"Scoop" Yurik, Freelance News-Agent
Once again, I must apologize for my lengthy absence from the news-channels. The subsectors below Sump's Drift have been treacherous. We have made our way deep into the immediate vicinity of The Collapse, and our caravan have been forced to slow our pace due to a significant threat of plague carriers, unimaginable creatures, and the incredible instability of the structures that surround us.
Nevertheless, I humbly submit this reporter's account of the events of day-cycle 20080906.
+++ARCHIVAL ENTRY FOLLOWS+++
Our party's travels into the depths of Subsector 19 were once more punctuated by violence as the OI-FU led us into an exceptionally gloomy dome. As we started into the darkened ruins of the Underhive, we noticed that almost without exception the light-panels in the area had failed from what seemed to be an electrical fire of some sort. We had little time to discern the true cause of the light-system failure, however, because within moments of our arrival, ganger "Ugly" Sean emerged from the murky shadows with grim news. The scars on his face twitched as he spoke.
"Mínádúrtha. In the ruins ahead."
Although this reporter had seen no evidence of plague carriers in the area, the last weeks have served as an intensive education in the true nature of the Underhive, and our party quickly moved to high ground, picking our way across gantry and platform to avoid the majority of the carriers. Despite the rather arduous task of climbing and descending various ladders and stairs, the moans of the plague victims were enough to remind this reporter that it was all indeed worth the effort.
Finally locating a suitably defensible location atop a series of mechanical platforms, our group began to make camp. As portable shelters were opened and cooking coils lit, we heard shots ring out in the darkness.
Without pause, the carriers below us began to lurch into the deep shadows of the hive, heading for easier prey. As the threat of the mínádúrtha eased, this reporter made ready to seek out the nearby battle. In spite of the relative safety afforded us by the sudden absence of undead, my pictographist was exceptionally reluctant to leave camp; his sentiment was shared by the OI-FU. Indeed, Seamus expressed his incredulity at my proposal in words that are quite unfit to report here.
After a great deal of negotiation and a few harsh words from both sides, this reporter was able to convince not only my pictographist, but gangers Liam and Murphy and even stalwart juve Michael from the OI-FU to brave the dark and fulfill our role as journalists (and mercenary bodyguards) by reporting the events unfolding below the Drift.
Thankfully, we observed the strobing effect of multiple muzzle flash-patterns in the gloom, and moved quickly across the dome towards the light-show. Where we could not negotiate a high road, we hastened across rubble-strewn floors in what the OI-FU call the "roadie run" - essentially a crouching trot named after the sound technicians of synth-grind musical groups. The undertaking of this method of motion would be utterly ridiculous were it not so effective in avoiding incoming fire (or in this case the attentions of any lurking mínádúrtha). But I digress.
Liam led us to the base of a large refinery tower that had long ago suffered a cataclysmic explosion, and we clambered up after him to a steel deck nearly ten meters above the dome floor. From here we could easily follow the pict-bulb flashes of gunfire and the streaking sparks of richoceting solid-stub rounds back and forth across the battlegrounds.
Thanks to the light-sensitive night-cycle lenses provided by my pictographist was this reporter and able to determine that the Delaque leader King and his crew had once more found themselves in conflict with the notorious Nex Manus Imperator of House Cawdor. As we clambered up to a suitable observation post, we were greeted by the sharp report of a shotgun blast, fired from a bridge by one Caius of the NMI. The shot narrowly missed its target as it staggered through the dusky gloom of the hive. While the Cawdor ganger’s missed shot drew the attention of the undead in the area, sneaky Delaque fighters took the opportunity to advance quickly through the dark shadows of the ruins, holding fire until valid targets presented themselves in the piercing blackness.
The members of Nex Manus Imperator matched this advance, although their movements were joined with a great deal of devout battle cries and gunfire. Caius, seemingly unfazed by his previous miss, bellowed an oath of “Purgatus!” and let fly with a Man-stopper round, taking down his target in a spray of coagulated blood. Nearby, heavy Callixtus drew his batterd shotgun from its carrying straps on his pack, and blasted the legs out from beneath another of the carriers, howling a victory cry as the miserable creature flailed in confusion on the ground.
However, it would seem that these cries of celebration were premature, as a sudden scream of terror pierced the air. My pictographist panned his lens across the battlefield just in time to capture the last mortal moments of Cawdor ganger Conon as he was dragged to the ground by a carrier, its jaws locked on his neck. The cry of pain and fear was suddenly cut off in a gurgling rasp, and the red-robed ganger ceased his struggles. Once more the Voodoo Posse took advantage of their adversaries’ misfortunes; their gray coats could be spotted flitting between cover, across gantry and gravel alike. Their weapons stayed silent; only the occasional crunch of grit under running boots could be heard as they moved forward.
This graceful advance was further aided by Urbanus, his autopistol illuminating his cowled face along with the decaying features of yet another odorous carrier. The numerous auto-rounds ripped gaping wounds into the creature’s torso and dropped it to the ground as bones shattered beneath the fusillade. Before any other members of the Cawdor gang found other targets, Delaque weapons fired for the first time, a burst of fire from an autogun driving Caius into cover. A burst of heavy stubber fire from Posse heavy Replay found a target, but unfortunately for the Delaques, said target was not in fact a carrier, but Posse juve Sweet Tooth, who was shot several times before staggering in pain off of a platform edge to the ground several stories below. The young man lay still, quickly soaking the floor with his blood. Las- and auto-fire also clipped Cawdor Juves Pius and Innocent, sending the former sprawling at the base of a processing tower and the latter tumbling into the dirt mid-stride. Both promised retribution in terms that would have seemed incredibly vulgar for supposed holy men, had they not been uttered by members of the NMI “crusade.”
Seeing the juves of his brotherhood wounded by the brazen Delaques, Caius steeled his nerves and sprang up from cover, leveling his shotgun at Replay and letting fly with a shot that wounded the heavy and knocked him to the floor in pain and confusion. Unfortunately, this last spectacular shot not only wounded his opponent but spectacularly backfired, wounding Caius and blasting him off his perch to the floor below and rendering the crusader unconscious in the dust. Above the battlefield, Father Benedictus opened fire for the first time in the engagement, using his elevated position to his advantage as his bolt pistol sent a powerful round streaking into the trenchcoated form of Posse ganger Tom Tom, taking the man down hard.
Meanwhile, Posse ganger Prince took careful aim with his trusty shotgun and caught NMI ganger Urbanus full in the center of mass with what must have been a Man-stopper; the crimson-clad man dropped like a slag deposit and laid still as a stone. Nearby, NMI ganger Vigilius spotted one of the vile mínádúrtha moving hungrily towards his downed comrade. The ganger raised his autogun and neatly put a round through the walking corpse’s head, ending its unlife. Unfortunately, as this threat to Urbanus was dispatched, another plague zombie had fallen upon juve Innocent, wounding the young man severely before it wandered back into the shadows.
As the Voodoo Posse positioned themselves for a final assault, Father Benedictus’s voice rang out, reciting a chant which called for, and I quote, the “…most valiant of the Emperor’s servants to praise His name in the act of humble retreat…” The Cawdor pulled their wounded to safety and faded quickly into the darkness, leaving the Voodoo Posse victorious.
Immediately before our group made to leave for camp, Liam grabbed hold of my sleeve and pointed to Conon’s corpse. The ganger was on his feet, his bolter forgotten. The mínádúrtha groaned plaintively as its dead eyes met mine, and then it turned and staggered clumsily into the darkness.