All the excitement was already over. The corrupt Governor had been deposed and martial law instigated by the initial Imperial invasion. Petty greed and tax avoidance had been the cause of his downfall after vast deposits of promethium had been discovered by some lucky prospector. Governor Schilltz had set up a promethium refining company called Star Shmuks as a front for embezzling the vast amounts of money that would normally have gone into the coffers of the Imperial Tax Collector. What with that and the rumours of a rebel presence in the Azura system and possibly on Lox itself, it was no surprise that this dreary corner of the galaxy, once known as Boone's Landing, had found itself thrust under the spotlight of Imperial scrutiny - not something that the locals had taken to kindly so far. As for Schilltz himself - along with his financial indiscretions, he had shown some leanings towards the rebels and was now languishing in the cells of the Imperial fortress.
Another group of malcontents was gathering in the dour shadow of the Imperial stronghold. Yavin Meyon looked on at the bedraggled throng with pride, various looted small arms barely concealed under their tattered robes. They would strike such a blow for the People's Popular Alliance for Freedom, Rebellion, Democracy, Secularism and Non-Proliferation of Planet Killing Super Weapons (or PPAFRDSANPPKSW for short) that the hated Imperial oppressors would find themselves beset on all sides as the people rose up as one against them.
In the fortress itself, the new garrison of Skittarii were getting jittery. There seemed to be a lot of movement around the castle walls registering on their bioscanners which didn't bode well when coupled with the periodic reports of civil unrest. Nor had the regular PDF forces been exactly welcoming, not that the Skittarii of Inquisitor Sinon's retinue ever expected to be greeted with open arms. The Inquisitor himself had last been seen heading off into the jungle in another of his obsessive searches for Xeno DNA.
Of particular interest to them was the Eldar Dance Troupe who were lurking suspiciously close to the fortress. They had already been exposed and fined for falsely imitating the mysterious Harlequins and warned that such frivolous activities as interpretative dance would not be tolerated under the newly puritanical Imperial rule. No doubt the Xenos bore a grudge and would bear watching closely.
Captain Jax's small infiltration force rendezvoused near the Space Port. The presence of the Golden Fists on Lox was not strictly official by any stretch of the imagination. Jax listened to each of his brother Marine's reports and nodded grimly. So the worm had indeed turned and it seemed likely that an escape attempt would be made imminently. It was imperative that the traitor, Schilltz be secured and the extent of his interactions with a Xenos agent be discovered. There were worrying indications that the alien scum was interested in more than trading promethium. The possibility of a full scale Xenos invasion made this a high stakes mission indeed.
And so the stage was set and the players were in the wings, unwitting pawns and devious schemers alike. The uneasy calm was soon to be broken...
Imperial speeder bikes streaked out of the main Space Port entrance, the weird burbling howl of their powerful engines echoing among the trees, Behind them Captain Gasma signalled her troops to move out.
In the distance the hulking shape of an Imperial robot stood guard by the Imperial fortress and a small group of power armoured figures filed towards it.
The Skittarii looked on impassively. There hadn't been an order to move the Governor from his incarceration but the presence of Imperial Marines assured them that nothing was amiss. So far.
The Goonies broke free of the vegetation and came across a small ATV in a clearing. Goon Fishin, the erstwhile leader of the gang, nodded his assent as two of his henchmen scrambled into the buggy, the passenger hefting his heavy stubber into a better firing position.
The small gaggle of figures emerging from the main fortress gate suddenly erupted in chaos. The Eldar Dance troop saw red when they recognised Governor Schilltz and his personal retinue and charged into combat with a chorus of yells and screams.
With the addition of the rumble of the buggy to the heavy footfall of their enhanced Ogryn, the Goonies began to attract the attentions of some of Lox's larger fauna. Two large furrows began to break the earth of the jungle floor as an amorous bull Ambull, although already in possession of a mate, was drawn inexorably towards what it thought was an even bigger prize...
Deciding that the Imperial stronghold might be a little foolhardy to assault, Yavin Meyon led his enthusiastic rebels through the jungle outskirts to see what pickings there were to be had at the Space Port.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fort Governor Schilltz was furious. Didn't those damned Eldar know he was trying to escape! Sejanus, the former chief of his Guard in happier times, had even procured several Marines as a bodyguard - money even talked to the Imperium's finest if you had enough of it! But now a disgruntled dance troupe were going to put all this at risk by attracting the attention of an Imperial robot and the newly arrived reinforcements. Schilltz looked on with some satisfaction as his expensive bodyguard formed a firing line and a few of the preening aliens fell under their fire power.
Captain Gasma's communicator crackled into life with reports of the disturbance over at the fortress. It seemed that perhaps not all the excitement was over after all. With a wolfish grin, she motioned for her squad to fan out of the Space Port and investigate the ruckus.
No sooner had they left the cover of the Port's walls than they were met with a hail of Heavy Bolter fire. Two troopers were cut down before the Imperials could react.
More of the Eldar Dance Troupe fell as Governor Schilltz's men began to get the other hand.
Inquisitor Sinon was not a happy man. Not only had his search for Xeno DNA in the Boonedocks been a complete failure but it had also been interrupted by more civil unrest. Reports of a firefight erupting all around the fortress filtered in through his communicator. Seeing the flash of plasma fire bursting from the jungle nearby, he motioned his followers into an attack pattern - someone would pay for this interruption!
Captain Gasma's response was quick and by the book. She and the exposed troopers dashed back towards the cover of the Space Port under covering fire from the rest of the squad. Although much of their fire didn't find its mark, the cultist with the Heavy Bolter paid for his boldness with his life.
In the midst of the firefight, the air began to shimmer and distort. Slowly several shapes began to take on a more definite form and coalesced into two very confused Imperial couriers and a rather large pay chest. Cursing their incompetent teleporter operator, the two civilians threw themselves to the ground and cowered behind their cargo as best they could!
Seeing that the Marines seemed to have the Eldar problem under control and still unaware that they had just witnessed the Governor's dramatic prison break, the Scout Troopers swung their Speeder Bikes round so they could strafe the cultists who had opened up on the rest of their squad earlier. Captain Jax eyed the troopers warily as he and his infiltration team took up position in the refinery and continued to monitor the Governor's progress. Their Dreadnought, AU F1st focused its targeters on the portly frame of Schilltz himself.
Sinon didn't like the look of this - multiple life forms were converging on his position through the jungle although so far only the group of rebels on his right had acted agressively. Accordingly he ordered his Thallax, LE10, to set blasters to kill and opened fire, felling several of the rebel scum.
Goon Fishin beckoned his men to proceed silently and with much shouting and hissing they finally managed an approximation of stealth. Even the two petrolheads in the buggy managed to curb the urge to put the pedal to the metal.
The People's Popular Alliance for Freedom, Rebellion, Democracy, Secularism and Non-Proliferation of Planet Killing Super Weapons returned fire at the Inquisitor's retinue - such a prime target would be an enormous propaganda coup and would put their little group on top of the pile of malcontents and rebels vying for power on Boone's Landing. Unfortunately the large volume of fire succeeded only in wounding the Inquisitor and killing off one of his lackeys. Still it was a start!
Larjcod Unchieps worriedly babbled at Goon Fishin - he was well aware that Inquisitors were bad for business and this particular one was known to have a penchant for chopping aliens into little pieces. The Piscean glanced nervously at the Goon who sat behind the wheel of the buggy. Although the vehicle's engine was only quietly idling under Fishin's orders, Unchieps didn't like the slightly crazed look of its driver or the way he was eyeing up the small rise in front of him...
Gasma reacted quickly to the sudden appearance of the civilians and what looked like her squad's wages for the next few months. At her orders the Speeder Bikes rushed in to give covering fire and two of her troopers dashed forwards to assist with the pay chest.
However, once again Imperial marksmanship lived up to its rather dubious reputation and many of the rebels escaped unharmed from the troopers' next volley.
Jeremiah Klaxon grasped the steering wheel, his sweating hands slick on the cheap plastic finish. He knew he could do it. Then he would be the boss' favourite and top amongst the Goonies Gang. His fevered eyes darted across the short space of ground that would be his run up. The small crater provided the ideal ramp... Even if it achieved nothing else, the stunt he had planned would be the coolest! Jeremiah gunned the engine and released the handbrake.
Inquisitors, rebels and Imperial troopers alike looked on dumbfounded as the foliage parted and a small buggy sailed through the air towards the space port. The Heavy Stubber's barrel flashed almost in slow motion as Goon Downihl opened up on the Imperial Troops, now below him and unprotected by the Space Port Wall thanks to Klaxon's impetuous jump.
Yavin Meyon reacted quickly to the confusion the buggy's entrance had caused. Fearing that the rest of his brave brothers would be cut down by the massed Imperial firepower they faced he brought out his most prizes possession. It was a grenade - that much he knew. But it was like no other grenade he had seen, A winking blue light seemed to indicate a power source of some kind. Meyon pulled the pin and threw it with all his might at the Inquisitor.
Nothing happened. Yavin Meyon craned his neck in vain, preying that his secret weapon had not been a dud. Then slowly he realised that all this time the Inquisitor had not moved. A terrible crashing to his right caught his attention and he was astonished to see the huge bulk of an Ogryn barrel into the rigid form of the Inquisitor. And then also stop dead. Then it dawned on the Rebel Leader - his prize had been a stasis grenade and possibly the saviour of his band of brothers for as long as the stasis field lasted.
Trying to ignore the buggy sailing past them, the Scout Troopers opened fire with their twin linked bolters on the rebel cultists before them, albeit somewhat ineffectually.
Gunner OR1269 had better luck. Somehow, despite reeling from both the shock of seeing the buggy sailing through the air towards him and the Stubber shells pattering off his armour, the Imperial Trooper drew a bead on the vehicles exposed fuel tanks and fired his Lascannon. The air was rent with a tremendous explosion and as the smoke cleared nothing remained of the buggy or its occupants. Not much remained of the civilians or their rescue team either, other than a rather shell shocked trooper and a badly burned accountant!
Aware that things were hotting up rapidly, Schilltz ordered his whole retinue to get rid of the last Eldar dancer. Luckily the huge Imperial robot's Robo-police protocols had meant that it hadn't interfered so far - obviously judging the situation as under control due to the presence of the Marines.
Staggering through the flames and twisted metal of the buggy, the surviving trooper and accountant made their way back to the Space Port.
Governor Schilltz could not suppress a smile as the last Eldar fell. Now the way was clear for him to get clear of this pitiful rock. However, it was not to be so simple as Heavy Bolter fire erupted all around his retinue in a warning not to proceed any further. Looking back over his shoulder, Schilltz's heart sank at the unmistakable silhouettes of more Marines in their vantage points, high up in the Refinery buildings. It looked like the long arm of Imperial Law still had him in its grasp.
Having narrowly avoided the massive explosion of the buggy, the Scout Troopers accelerated in to the jungle, zipping in and out of trees and strafing the Goony Gang as they went, picking off one of the thugs. However the sight of two Ambulls bursting out of the ground in front of them was not one they could have predicted!
With their attention firmly on their attackers outside the Space Port, the Imperial Troopers failed to notice the smugglers and other assorted scum organising themselves behind them. Hans Oph, the smuggler captain had only to overhear two words - pay and chest - to get his attention. Now that the Imperials had suffered several casualties, it should be easy pickings.
Larjcod took full advantage of the chaos to make a dash for the Space Port walls, glancing nervously at the frozen Inquisitor as he went.
Hans Oph glanced back to check everyone was ready and gave the signal. Laser and autogun fire exploded around the unsuspecting Imperial troops but somehow they survived the fusillade unharmed! However the situation looked desperate...
The Speed Bikers took evasive action and one of them managed to jink past his assailant. His comrade was not so lucky and he found himself with a most unwelcome passenger in the form of an enraged female Ambull clinging on to his under carriage!
Even at short range the continued fire fight in the Space Port didn't claim too many more casualties. Captain Gasma was hit however, but her displacer field teleported her safely on board the Eon Kite, Hans Oph's pride and joy and reputedly the fastest ship in the galaxy. Gunner OR1269 found himslef in the grip of a graviton gun but his armour protected him from its crushing effects.
Despite the warning, Governor Schilltz and his trusty chief legged it! Behind them the robot paused and emitted strange bleeps as the Golden Fist tech officer hacked into its controls. The pursuing Skittarii looked on with some small trepidation.
Larjcod Unchieps could almost feel the delicious cool of the moisture bath that awaited him - the Space Port and a ticket off planet were nearly within his grasp.
Captain Gasma could hardly believe her luck as she sat at the controls of the Eon Kite. With no difficulty she located both the controls to the large Quad Guns and to the loud speaker system. Swiveling the ship's main armament round in as threatening a fashion as she could, she ordered Hans Oph's snugglers to stand down and await Imperial justice. Forgetting the specs of his own ship in his panic, Hans threw himself under the cover of the Eon Kite, his men following swiftly behind him, That the guns could not be angled down enough to target him was neither here nor there!
Yavin Meyon's once proud People's Popular Alliance for Freedom, Rebellion, Democracy, Secularism and Non-Proliferation of Planet Killing Super Weapons was now reduced to him and his best mate. Taking what cover they could, they spied a target ripe for the picking in the portly form of Governor Schilltz however, in their haste, their shots went wide.
Inquisitor Sinon had found the experience of being stasis grenaded a novel one. Despite being physically frozen, his keen mind had already been working on new applications of this interesting weapon. Unfortunately, however, he hadn't seen or heard the thunderous charge of Sloth, the Goonies pet Ogryn. As the stasis field finally flickered out, the first the beleagured Inquisitor knew of Sloth's enthusiastic attentions was an almighty clang.
With their heavy weapons gunner still struggling in the clutches of the Graviton gun, the Imperial troopers hit back desperately. Their fire became somewhat more effective now it was at point blank and several more smugglers fell to their Shuriken Catapults. Hans Oph charged into combat with a rather surprised Servitor, known affectionately as Mr Snips...
Governor Schilltz panted along behind his former chief, Sejanus. The steady tread of robot feet behind them spurred them on, although the furious firefight going on in the Space Port did not fill them with confidence. Schilltz sprawled in the dirt as yet another salvo of fire crashed in from all sides, including from the Speeder Bike over shooting the advancing rebels.
His comrade was struggling to keep his bike aloft with the additional weight of a rather surprised Ambull. Behind them came the ululating cry of her mate, bereft of his recently subjugated mate!
Things were becoming touch and go for Governor Schillts. He felt the volume of fire raining down around him intensify. He knew the end was near. Then all went black...
A single Lasrifle shot drilled a neat hole through the back of his head, fired by one of his erstwhile Skitarii guards from the walls of the fortress. The Rebel Alliance had lost another figure head.
Sloth and Inquisitor Sinon were still locked in a desperate struggle. The pair battled mightily - raw brute strength pitted against centuries of combat skill and the finest technologies the Imperium had to offer. Unfortunately for the brute, technology won out and with a plaintive cry, Sloth ran from Inquisitor.
Hans Oph found himself beaten back by Mr Snips and suddenly fearing for his future children, he took off at a run for airlock of the Eon Kite.
Inquisitor Sinon watched the faintly ridiculous figure of the fleeing Ogryn with a grim look of satisfaction. Now it was time to put a stop to the bedlam that was raging around him. As he turned, however, he caught sight of two figures swathed in purple rags. Suddenly a plasma pistol wheeled out and Sinon received the full blast head on.
Yavin Meyon's hands shook and he could barely control the yell of triumph that rang from his lips. This was a proud day for the People's Popular Alliance for Freedom, Rebellion, Democracy, Secularism and Non-Proliferation of Planet Killing Super Weapons. They had struck a blow right to the very heart of their Imperial oppressors. The death of an Inquisitor at their hands would have rebels from across the planet flocking to their banner,
Yavin turned to ask which of his merry band had that banner and was met by the frightened stare of the only member still standing. This complicated things. Unless they could get out of here alive, the momentous news of their achievements would die with them...
Around the pay chest, loyalties were being re-evaluated as circumstances changed in the heat of battle. Trooper OR1369 had heard and seen nothing of his Captain for some time. Most of his squad had been cut down by either rebels or smugglers and the Space Port now looked like it had fallen. What was more the accountant was beginning to get bolshy and wasn't following orders and after all - there was a lot of money in that chest...
Suddenly his mind was made up for him as Sejanus, fresh from similar thoughts of his own, dashed over brandishing a pistol and demanding the chest be handed over to him. A short struggle ensued and yet another life was lost over the promise of riches.
Trooper OR1369 and the accountant regarded each other warily.
A new noise joined din of battle in the Space Sport as the Ambull that had clung to the Speeder Bike was finally encouraged to let go. Shrieking and hissing, the huge insectoid tore into the hapless smugglers it had nearly landed on as the relieved Scout Trooper roared overhead on his newly buoyant speeder.
Hans Oph had freedom within his grasp as he neared the entry ramp of the Eon Kite with the angry snapping of Mr Snips' large servo pincers ringing in his ears. As he rounded the corner his face crashed into something very hard and very shiny. Seeing the grenade pins still swinging round the Imperial captain's finger, who he had knocked over, Hans put two and two together and came up with a huge explosion. With his ship booby-trapped and an impending vasectomy heading his way in the form of Mr Snips, he kept on running!
With a cry of rage Captain Gasma picked herself up. After her ruse with the quad guns on the ship hadn't worked to save her squad, she had been busy jury-rigging a bomb around the fuel tanks with her Krak grenades. The Smuggler captain would pay for the death of her men.
Sloth wasn't sure how long he had been running for. The sounds of battle had receded behind him and before him lay something wonderful. An all terrain buggy was parked up by the jungle's edge, seemingly unattended. With a cry of joy, Sloth began the laborious process of working out how to get in. And how to get it started...
Goon Fishin allowed himself a sly grin. He had done it! He had evaded the fierce fighting around the Space Port, scaled its walls and sneaked into an Imperial shuttle with his slimy but rather rich paymaster. The loot would soon be his - all he had to do was get this bucket into orbit.
A vast array of flashing lights, buttons and switches spread out before him as he entered the cockpit. Larjcod looked on hopefully as his paid muscle began stabbing a grubby finger at them, seemingly at random. That hope turned to exasperation as the alarm suddenly went off and the wipers began furiously scudding across the wind screen...
A dull crump signalled the end of one of the Speeder Bikes as the smugglers fought on.
In the distance, the shadowy figures of the Golden Fists began their extraction - their mission a success. The robot, still under the control of their technical officer, tramped dutifully after them. Horrified at the large amount of Mechanicus tech wandering off into the sunset, Sinon's Techpriest hurried after it but couldn't keep pace with the long legged machine.
The death of Sejanus had a profound impact on the Imperial trooper who had been escorting the pay chest. He had once been an exemplary soldier, loyal and unquestioning and totally devoted to Imperial dogma. Now he had killed for personal gain. Now he was an outlaw. The accountant's eyes widened as the trooper turned to him, bloodied combat knife in hand.
Dusting off the filth of the Space Port from her sparkling armour, she set off in pursuit as the receding form of Hans Oph disappeared into the Imperial shuttle. Pushing past the sweating servitor, Gasma sent several plasma blasts through the shuttle doorway and was satisfied to hear a suitably agonised scream.
The accountant shook his head and reached for his side arm but too late. Trooper1369 had already given in to the dark side. The pay chest was his for the taking.
His triumph was not to last long however. The female Ambull, confused and angry, came charging out of the Space Port.
Her mate, pining for his lost love, vented his rage on Sinon's Servo Skull, crushing the tiny machine with ease.
Trooper OR1369, with his back turned and Imperial Credits running through his fingers, never stood a chance as Ambull mandibles crushed his head.
The sole surviving Scout Trooper wheeled his bike round, looking for targets of opportunity. As trees whipped past him, he targeted a crouching cultist and the Bull Ambull. It was no contest - Twin-linked Bolters spat their fiery death and Yavin Meyon breathed his last. As did his almost unbelievable tale of how he killed an Inquisitor.
Giving Hans Oph's body a contemptuous kick, Captain Gasma was shocked to hear the Imperial shuttles alarms go off. Kicking open the door, she was confronted by one of Goon Fishin's heavies and received an Autogun blast for her troubles.
Shaking off the wound, she charged into combat, cutting the Goon down before he could get another shot off.
Strange chittering cries rand out through the Boonedocks as the mating pair of Ambulls were finally reunited. Mandibles clicked and slavered over each other as the creatures embraced and yet the happy moment was not to last. The air shimmered in a clearing to their left and Rohburt "the Raptor" Muldoon and his Jokaero assistant, Klyde, teleported on to the planet surface. The famed Galactic game hunter took aim with his digital Lascannon and the female Ambull sank to the ground. It would be Ambull caviar for tea after all!
Larjcod's sensitive auditory organs sensed something was wrong and he beckoned for another Goon to check out the rear storage area. Goon Fishin had finally found the ignition and nothing was going to stop the alien's escape now.
The rear storage door burst open and Captain Gasma burst in, dodging the Goon's hastily fired shot. She rolled across the metal floor, brought her Plasma Blaster up and ended another Rebel's life.
Mr Snips stood watching the Imperial Shuttle struggle into the air. The ticking behind him seemed to be getting louder for some reason. The next thing the servitor was able to divine from his limited sensory perceptions was a huge orange flower blossoming out towards the receding shuttle and a great heat roaring around him.
The explosion of the Eon Kite's fuel tanks knocked him to the ground and left only him and one of Hans Oph's smugglers alive in the charred remains of the Space Port.
The explosion rocked the Imperial shuttle and Goon Fishin struggled to regain control of the wildly bucking ship. Gasma steadied herself and grimly advanced through the ship...
Her communicator crackled unexpectedly in to life. One of the Scout Troopers had survived and was in hot pursuit of the stolen shuttle. Bringing his speeder bike skilfully alongside the ship, he bravely leapt from his saddle and clung to the shuttle's access ladder. Reaching out a hand and battling against the buffeting winds and the ship's rapid acceleration, he fumbled for the doorway. Fingers closed around the handle but his strength was spent and all he could do was grab desperately for the ladder and hang on for dear life, watching the ground drop sickeningly away beneath him.
Larjcod Unchieps rolled his eyes and brought out an elaborately decorated power sword. Paid muscle was all well and good up to a point but sometimes one's personal safety was best left in one's own hands. Rows of spiny teeth glistened as he snarled and pounced on the wounded Captain Gasma. Overcome by his fishy stench, Gasma reeled back in disgust, desperately parrying the Xeno's vicious lunges with her blaster. Yet it was to no avail and the shiny chrome of her armour was parted like butter by Larjcod's blade. With a fetid hiss of triumph, Larjcod rejoiced at his newfound liberty and that moisture bath that could surely not be so far away now.
Goon Fishin caught sight of a large form in the jungle below. Was it his imagination or had he heard a mournful cry.
"Heyyyyy youuuuu Guuuyyyyyyyyyyysssss!"
There was no stopping now - not even for Sloth, who was still fiddling with a now slightly dented buggy. Fishin rocked the joystick from side to side, waggling the shuttle in a final salute to his pet Ogryn and wiping a tear from his eye before Larjcod saw it.
Outside the shuttle the last Imperial trooper finally lost his grip as the ship jinked from side to side. With a scream he plummeted to the jungles below...
And so ended an extremely entertaining game of Rogue Trader. Thanks yet again to Warlord Paul for a great job GM'ing all the crazy goings on and many thanks to Nik and his wife for being such great hosts - amazing fish pie for lunch! Thanks to to my fellow players - always a pleasure lads and looking forward to our next meet.
Check out Ollie's blog for more pics!