You Shall Know No Fear

1/11/2014 Recap

The Kill-Team travelled to Karlack aboard Inquisitor Quist’s modest by highly customized void ship. The Angelus Invictus had no doubt served as a transport for the Deathwatch in the past, the accommodation’s provided to the team being retractable slabs built into the walls, equal in size to the stone plinth’s used at Watch Station Erioch.
The approach to Karlack is unique within the Jericho Reach. At the heart of the Crusade’s military power and the center of the Iron Collar that defends Imperial possession of the warp gate, the fortress world’s perimeter is littered with defenses. The first layer of fortified space is a sphere of mechanized battle stations, their augur arrays constantly scanning the void. A few track the Angelus Invictus with their plasma batteries as it passes. Next, on the outskirts of the occupied ring, are the massive space docks where Adeptus Mechanicus adepts repair and slowly construct new ships for the Imperial Navy. These jagged spires and gargantuan platforms berth everything from gleaming new fighters to the war-ravaged skeletons of cruisers who survived battles their crews did not. Supply stations, more advanced sensorium arrays, and voidfaring troop barracks orbit closer to the faded greyish-green planet. Karlack’s sky and atmosphere are thick with the smoke of industry and clouds of dirt thrown up by the ongoing construction. Once you clear the brackish cloud layer, the landmasses are patchworks of bare earth, dull armored fortifications, and the occasional stretch of green farmland where fast-growing crop strains are continually planted and harvested for processing into rations.
Tens of thousands of troops and transports stage from Karlack at any one time, regiment upon regiment preparing to replace the losses of an especially bloody battle in one of the Crusade salients. However, in addition to the many bases and emplacements in its orbit, the planet also requires a large permanent garrison for defense and maintaining order. Such troops occupy hundreds stations across Karlack, but the largest, first, and most important of these is Citadel Primaris. Citadel Primaris towers like a mountain above a plain of levelled earth. Observation decks and weapon emplacements jut from the sloping walls at regular intervals. The Angelus
Invictus lands on one of the immense duracrete pads between a Valkyrie transport and a huge Marauder bomber. Inquisitor Quist presents her rosette to the straight-backed guards at the main gate, and the Kill-team proceeds inside. A large gravel yard lies beyond the high walls, where several squads are drilling under the watchful eye of a Commissar. Before Quist and the Battle-Brothers can even cross the yard, a man in a General’s dress uniform emerges from one of the tall bastions, flanked by a dozen guards in black flak armor. The man is Lord General Castus Iacton. The General quickly greets the team before ushering them into his ready room. Recognition sparks in his eyes as Quist explains who she is and why she has come. “Inquisitor Quist, I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to come. Your colleague left this behind, with the strictest orders that I was to deliver it to you only.” He walks to a small adamantine vault edged with gold filigree, and aligns several dials. The door swings open, and he withdraws a lacquered box. It is etched with ornate designs, and held shut by a series of warded locks even more diabolical than the one on his safe. He carefully presents the box to Inquisitor Quist.

The Inquisitor spends a moment scrutinizing the interlocking chains and coded wards. Then, she slides a chain aside to reveal a circle of runes with the Inquisition’s symbol in the center. She depresses the symbol and the runes light up in an amber glow. In mute fascination the Battle-Brothers look on. Buried within the chain links and carved into the locks are partial icons, like pieces of a puzzle. In a very deliberate order, Inquisitor Quist rotates the fastenings to align the symbols. As she forms each one: a skull, a leering face, a sword, the amber runes turn green. At last only one remains. She pauses for a few seconds, squinting at the box as though to clear her vision. She rubs her temples and aligns the two halves of an Aquila. The final rune turns green. As Quist lifts the lid her breathing is noticeably erratic. She sways slightly. The box tumbles from her hands as she falls to the floor, color quickly draining from her face. The unlocked box lies beside her, open lid showing nothing inside. Inquisitor Quist is quickly administered to by Brother Wagrus. His presence barely saving the Inquisitor from death. Unconscious she is taken to the medicae facilities in the fortress.

Questioning Lord-General Iacton brings to light several new pieces of information. Inquisitor Vincent left Citadel Primaris (around the date of his letter to Quist). When he departed, he left the box in his quarters. The Inquisitor claimed to be here to staunch the
Flourishing Cold Trade of xenos relics in Kar’thir, but the Lord General knew he spent a great deal of time on other more secret matters. Finally after a few minutes of questioning Iacton says – “Isn’t there some report you can retrieve? I told all this to the other Space Marines just last week!” After staring blankly for a few moments, the team inquires of the Lord General “Other space marines?” It appears that Black Templars asked Iacton many questions about Inquisitor Vincent, and investigated the Inquisitor’s quarters, which had been left undisturbed since his departure. It was actually their suggestion that he move the box from Vincent’s room to his vault. Once the other Space Marines had finished their investigation, they departed; Iacton believes they may have had a few documents in their possession. Their transport’s trajectory suggested they were headed elsewhere on the planet. A quick journey to Vincent’s quarters was undertaken.

The room is a converted office, with an unmade and largely unused cot in one corner. The small, disorderly room could easily be mistaken for the home of a lowly scribe. Parchment litters the desk and the cot, books lie open—each with a dozen page markers in it, and stacks of journals tower perilously on every flat surface. Several of the drawings depict geometric symbols of xenos origin. Searching the room the team found an Artifact Manifest describing ruined fragments of the alien technology Vincent encountered on Karlack. One of his research journals is also found to be missing a page. The journal’s title page reads “Beneath the Cenotaph.” The book is full of hand-written observations, sketches, and theories about the ancient history of Kar’thir, where the Cenotaph of Achilus resides. Vincent’s notes suggest that the indigenous city may have been built on the ruins of a civilization that pre-dated human settlement. Torn scraps of parchment are also found behind a desk, that when assembled read: No door that we would understand leads into the city. This key will afford you entry.

It is decided that Inquisitor Quist needs to be questioned, but as she is still under medical care and not expected to gain consciousness until the morning the team is given quarters for the night. Not long after arriving at said quarters, they are approached by a native servant holding a perfumed envelope bearing the seal of a sleeping felid. The servant awaits a response as the team reads the missive:

Esteemed Warriors of the God-Emperor, You would do me great honour if you would meet with me at the summit of this magnificent Imperial castle. I know that men of your importance are always short on time. I promise you brevity, and an unparalleled knowledge of the places, people, and history of this humble planet.
Your faithful servant,
Prince-Prefect Allewis LXXXIII

The Prince’s receiving room is decorated with off-world luxuries and a large silver crest of a sleeping felid hangs prominently on the mantle. “Welcome, welcome fine visitors.” The Prince-Prefect ushers you into a richly appointed room that belongs in a noble’s hive spire, not a fortress. The exterior balcony provides a sweeping view of the murky sky and bare earth outside. He gestures at a side table obviously prepared by a shrewd diplomat versed in the Adeptus Astartes. A basin of ice holds large, sturdy goblets of wine sized so that even power-armored hands can grip them. The accompanying delicacy of Bekrin otter has been seared on large skewers making it equally easy to partake of. “Now, the Adeptus Astartes only call when something important is afoot. How can Karlack’s Prince-Prefect assist you?” Soon it become apparent that the Prince wishes the team’s assistance in acting as an intermediary with General Iacton over the issue of the latest muster of the Karlack 1st, in exchange for whatever aid he might be able to extend during their stay on Karlack. Taking the Brothers to an attached veranda he points out the 1st far below on the mustering ground going about its drill. Even from there the team could tell that this muster was scraping the bottom of the barrel. The men still wear their woven native clothing; many are boys too young to even undergo Space Marine trials, while others are so old and sickly they seem unlikely to survive the space voyage to their first deployment.

While observing the Karlack 1st the Kill-team witnesses a truck roll up to the far side of the grounds and disgorge a squad of guardsmen. At least they appear to be wearing uniforms similar to the Karlack 1st. These men, however, start shooting into the assembled Karlack 1st and start making their way to the fortress doors throwing grenades as they go. The team notices that they are all carrying explosive charges as well. As the Prince-Regent exclaims “They are here to get me!” Astramael leaps into the air and descends on his jetpack to the carnage below. Brothers Cadmus, Johansson and Wagrus quickly move to the edge and start ranging shots to the terrorists far below, all the while doing their best to not hit any real guardsmen they recognize in the melee. Brother Astramael does great damage descending as an avenging angel of the Emperor, and despite nearly being blown up by a thrown charge he and his brothers make short work of the attack. The Prince is quite impressed with their display of righteous power and thanks them for ‘saving’ him.

The team returns to their quarters to await their hoped for meeting with Inquisitor Quist. Unfortunatly morning does not bring any change in the Inquisitors condition and the team sets about following the supposed Black Templars to the city of Kar’thir. About this time they also receive a message, relayed by the Inquisitor’s assassin, from one Mediator Dyne intended for Quist. The mediator is one of Inquisitor Vincent’s team and he is requesting a meeting in Kar’thir at Taeg Manor.

Approaching the center of Kar’thir, the Cenotaph of Achilus looms tall. The Cenotaph is a gleaming monolith of black marble, built in the center of a sprawling feudal town. It dwarfs the muddy wooden buildings that huddle like supplicants around its base. Large swathes of bare earth scar the settlement and its adjacent lands; some of them hold the skeletons of abandoned construction. Large cargo haulers rumble down other dirt paths, throwing huge clouds of dust into the air. This towering black monument entombs the Crusade’s first Lord Militant, Tiber Achilus. Built upon the ruins of an ancient Imperial temple, it has become the spiritual heart of the Crusade in many regards—with all the curses and commendations that entails.

Skipping the landing pad on the edge of the city, the team has themselves disembarked in the Foreigner’s Triangle near the city center. Travelling to Taeg Manor the team has a chance to mingle with the inhabitants. They learn a few things of indeterminate veracity:

• “Everyone knows there’s something wrong with the oceans below. There was an ill wind blowing from the south the day my wife bore our still babe. It was the cold breath of the reapers that live on the ocean floor, coming to take our poor child.”
• “Have you come to avenge Baron Taeg? His spirit rests ill, I tell you. His shadow moves back and forth in the halls of his old estate, and I’ve seen the lights flickering late at night from the road outside.”
• “Eternity Charms are nothing to be concerned with. They’re just harmless little reminders that good works can be immortal. Worse things change hands in Kar’thir. The Transpired Circle come like vultures to pick the ancient bones clean. The tales of what they find in the mud and rocks are so nightmarish I couldn’t begin to tell you what’s true and what’s not. But if you want something to look at, how about a nice, safe Charm? I’ll give you a good price on this one.”
• “What sort of miracle or menace has brought the holy Adeptus Astartes to us twice in so little time? I think I’d best be strong in my ignorance—better not to know. But sure as I stand before you blessed warriors now, there was another group here in the Pavilion just a few days ago. They didn’t stop to bless us with their words as you have, just went right to the Cenotaph there.”

Arriving at Taeg’s manor the team encounters Mediator Dyne. He wears simple local robes with a draping hood to keep his cranial implants from attracting attention. Dyne is extremely pleased to contact allies he can reveal himself to. He offers his assistance on the Kill-team’s task unconditionally, and requests their aid with his duty. He has uncovered that the merchant Alexei Drahj is using Kar’thir as a hub for smuggling xenos artefacts. He has the channels to arrange a meeting by posing as a prospective buyer. However, without the rest of his cadre, he lacks the firepower to bring the well-protected criminal to justice. Dyne asks if the Battle- Brothers are willing aide him in this matter. The team accedes to this request and then asks about Inquisitor Vincent. For two years Dyne has investigated the “Cold Trade” of xenos artifacts in Kar’thir. Much of the last year has been spen waiting for his master to return – a possibility that has grown ever more remote. According to him, Vincent uncovered the location of the ruins beneath the sea just before he disappeared. He gathered his cadre to make some final preparations in the southern islands, and intended to then head for the sunken city. Dyne remained behind as he was close to rooting out the artefact traffickers. He never heard from the cadre again. He also knows that Vincent spent a great deal of time in Kar’thir studying the Cenotaph, but can only conjecture what connection it has to the xenos structures in the southern ocean.

Following the clues the Kill-team decided to head to the Cenotaph of Achilus. After passing through the pavilion in front of the cenotaph the Brothers made their way up to the obsidian monument. Doors that were supposed to be sealed stood damaged – an immediate sign that something was amiss. A large breach exists in the panels, easily wide enough for a Space Marine to enter. Within the tomb’s interior is a drastically different environment from the outside. The unexposed sides of the black marble retain strange golden markings that glitter in the low light. A giant white likeness of the lost Tiber Achilus stands in the monument’s hollow heart, equally empty. The original Lord Militant was lost to the warp, and the stone effigy serves the place of a coffin. The opening drops into the nave of a crumbling Imperial cathedral. The wooden pews have long since rotted, and any ornamentation been stripped by scavengers, but statue fragments and faded patches of murals remain. The Battle- Brothers find themselves facing fragments of their own likenesses: Space Marines in old marks of armour carved into the support pillars. However, the tunnels continue. The walls of multiple altar niches and the apse gape open, revealing that an even more ancient site exists behind the Imperial construction. All of the chambers beyond are walled in the same sleek black material that forms the Cenotaph itself.

Descending the team finds an empty mausoleum. Among the ruined furniture most everything has been looted generations ago. A sound is heard in the distance that of metal tools working in the dirt. Silently approaching the team discovers three men in local clothes. They are using spades and shovels to dig underneath the rubble. A scrap of conversation is heard: ““Don’t you think if they’ve spent all this time down here they must know the place better than us?” Another voice replies, “Didn’t say they don’t. Just saying I don’t want to gamble they’re the types to share.” They freeze the moment the notice the Battle-Brothers. One of the men lobs his shovel at the team before turning to run deeper into the rubble. Another brandishes his pick and tries his best to look menacing. The last falls to his feet and begins praying to the Emperor for forgiveness. After securing the local men the team learn that this was the third time they had been into the Cenotaph. Mostly just digging up Eternity Charms, but there was an unusual item – a strange staff with branching crescent blades – which they sold to Alexei Drahj. The men are sent packing after vowing to never enter the ruins again.

Moving further into the rubble the team comes upon twin tunnels that wind back from two of the altars. Their walls covered in remarkably preserved images. While the familiar vertical strips of geometric golden script do occur at regular intervals, it is carved reliefs that dominate the passage. The imagery varies: landscapes with geometric structures, odd skeletal faces, and sarcophagi. A circular panel ringed with glyphs depicts a series of structures beneath a horizontal line. This could be interpreted as the level of the ocean above the buildings. Closer look detects a recurring mathematical them in the symbols around the relief, suggesting map coordinates. However, without a cipher key, no further decryption is possible.

The carved tunnels unite in a small vestibule which opens up to an immense man-made chasm. This opening is 30 meters wide and appears to stretch down into the ground for hundreds, if not thousands of meters. Deep below a warm light glows faintly, and soft voices echo.
Taking what precautions they could, the team slowly descended into the chasm. After descending about half the distance to the light they see figures gathered below, dressed in the simple wools and cotton weaves of Kar’thir’s residents. Rising above them in the center of a room is a crude statue. Its metal body is humanoid but vaguely defined—either deliberately or due to poor craftsmanship. Only the head is clearly fashioned and painted; it depicts a stark white human skull. As they close the distance the start to hear pieces of a vibrant story of generosity and benign deeds performed by beings referred to as the Undying: “And then the Undying said to the farmer: ‘I see that you have learned well the lessons we have taught. Your crops flourish in the drought while those of your neighbors wilt. I shall grant your request.’ The farmer fell to his knees in thanks as the Undying floated gracefully to his ailing child. The Undying laid his cool hand upon the boy’s brow. The sickness left his body, and he was whole again.”

Outraged at this heresy, Brother Astramael descends on wings of fire to smite the heretic. And lands among the gather throng of seventy or so congregants. Killing many he is soon joined by Cadmus, Johansson and Wagrus in destroying the ill armed heretics. Blood and body matter fly as the Emperor’s justice is meted out with merciless measure. The cultists used some sort of lightning projector from alcoves set 20 meters in the air, but they did much more damage to the cultists fighting on the floor then the Space Marines. Soon only the cultist’s leader remained, the rest of the heretics dead or fled. After having tried to kill himself in any fashion he could (knife, beating his head against Astramael’s chest and finally trying to break his own neck by thrashing wildly) the leader refused to answer any questions. Even under duress. Brother Wagrus believes he can concoct something when they return to Taeg house that would force a confession from him.

Following the passage the few cultist’s who escaped used to do so, the team proceeded upwards. For a few hundred metres the walls are smooth, as though cut with the same technology that built the ruins. However, after that the walls become uneven, braced by rotting wooden struts and frequently twisting around rock formations. It would have taken generations to tunnel this far at Karlack’s current technology level. The Battle-Brothers finally emerge. Even before you see the light of the exit, your Auto-senses alert you to the stench of rotting flesh and excrement. You may wonder what sort of charnel house lies ahead. However, when you step out of the tunnel, the only dead you see are the skins of animals. You are inside a tannery, where hides are splayed in the various stages of curing. A pair of young boys toil over the reeking vats.

The boys are found in a state of utter confusion and terror at the Space Marines appearance. When asked they tell the team that the leader of the cultists is the owner of the tannery, a man named Oldreg. They appear to know nothing about his activities outside the shop, or even of the existence of the passage. Oldreg’s rooms turn up several hand written stories similar to the one that was overheard in the chasm, and several Eternity Charms. Each of the boys also has an Eternity Charm given to them by their master. As they cannot read, they have no scriptures, but innocently confess that Oldreg has told them many fables of the Undying. As the team prepares to leave, Wagrus points out that the children are heretics now as well, having heard the blasphemies about the undying. Astramael inquires as to what to do and Wagrus promply takes the boys out behind the tannery. Two bolt pistol shots are heard before he returns to the rest of the team…

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A Missing Inquisitor
The rumor of an Inquisitor’s arrival a few days ago is confirmed by your Watch Captain’s order to attend a meeting in her chambers at the Tower of Brass in the early hours before the waking cycle. The vaulted doors into the Tower of Brass have remained unchanged over the millennia, inscribed with the catechism of hate: The Mark of the Xenos. However, the guard stationed outside them changes as the title Inquisitor of the Chamber changes bearers. The size and nature of an Inquisitor’s sentry force is indicative of the resident of the gleaming edifice. In keeping with Inquisitor Hezika Carmillus’s violent and martial nature, she keeps no guard at all: a message that she can face any threat on her own. You pass through the unlocked doors and ascend two spiraling flights of stairs to Inquisitor Quist’s audience room. One wall is a transparent plate of glassteel facing into the void. At this time before Erioch’s weak dawn, it faces the dim light from the system’s cold, rising star. Quist stands in the center of the patterned marble floor, arms clasped behind her back. After exchanging brief, cursory greetings with the kill-team, she begins: “I will be brief, as time is of the essence. Too much has already been wasted by the careless and the idle. I do not believe any of you ever made the acquaintance of my colleague, Inquisitor Zaer Vincent. He was—is—a fine man with a nose for secrets. It may have finally been his end. He has been investigating an increasing number of harmful incidents and rumors of a xenos presence in Karlack’s less tamed southern hemisphere. I’m sure I do not need to elaborate on the ramifications if such rumors should prove true on the Crusade’s key fortress world. Yet no one has heard from Vincent in many months.” She holds up a folded letter. “Until now.” Quist goes on to tell the Kill-team that she received the letter, written in Vincent’s hand, only hours ago. It is dated 816.M41. The perils and inefficiencies of war on an unclaimed frontier kept it from her hands for almost a year. Now, long after his disappearance his last communication has finally reached the Ordo Xenos. “Here is that letter”, she says as she hands over a small document.

InqZaerLetter.png

When you are done reading Inquisitor Quist says: “Whatever malign forces protect these secrets, they may have already killed one of my Ordo. I do not intend to be their next victim. Will you aid me in exposing and purging any xenos taint on Karlack?”
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12/15/2013 Recap
Session opened with the battle brothers preparing for the the Hunt under the helpful guidance of Alkedre Firestarter. The space marines were allowed to take nothing of their own to the hunt and were provided with traditional weapons. Alkedre described their quarry: “It is the largest of the Reaving Canyon’s denizens. It stalks on

two legs, and favors the inferno of the Deadlands.” She sketches
a distinctively uneven four-toed print in the dirt “That is the
shape of its track.” Then she draws their attention to her brilliant
red armor. “But most-over, you will know it by the color of its
scales. Its hide is patterned like the blazes of hell itself."
The kill team,

Rylus, Alkedre, and scores of curious Aurans made the trek through the winding farmland to the Reaving Canyons. The entrance fissure was clearly marked by talismans of protection and splayed human skeletons that warn of danger. The onlookers were silent to a man when the Battle-Brothers crossed into the Canyons. Rylus solemnly wished them luck. Just inside the threshold stood a weathered stone plinth with a varied selection of worn but reliable weapons. The terraced path was narrow as the Battle-Brothers entered the network of canyons. Aurum’s lauded virility was obvious as they proceeded. Grasses grow on sheer slabs of stone; climbing plants flourish as they cling to the rocky walls. A canopy of trees lining canyons’ summit mostly blocks the amber sky. Within that shade the vegetation is not tall but dense, and it rustles constantly with the movement of unseen creatures through it. Not long after the entrance disappears, muffled reptilian shrieks began to echo through the lush maze, the calls of its many inhabitants. Even as the passage widened, it was still only wide enough to accommodate two Battle-Brothers at a time. The team first came to a wide clearing flanked on all sides by thick undergrowth and bushes. Clutches of eggs peaked out of pebbled mounds scattered around the center and bright, scaly shoulders and heads of roaming theratryx could be seen as they prowled through the grass. staying together, the team was able to move across terrain avoiding being detected by the 30 or so odd creatures. Taking the northern of two paths leading from the theratryx grounds the group ascended the path to an open plateau with a sky teaming with flying reptiles. A cursory look over the side showed the deadlands stretching out below, but the brothers had no interest in trying to climb down the cliffs again. Backtracking, the marines took the other path and found themselves having to go through a damp, dim tunnel. Pushing through the roots, rock and soil of the narrow tunnel the party almost made it out. The tunnel begins to destabilize with all the traffic and as it starts to come down Astramael jumps clear. Johansson is able to push Cadmus and Varran out before being covered in the falling detritus. Luckily the Space Marines are able to quickly dig him out. The harsh acidic air of the deadlands takes its toll on some of the marines, but soon all are moving forward into the red gorge to search for their prey. Soon the pungent stench of sulpher gave way to the putrid scent of rotting flesh – the lair of a diablodon had been found. A fine powder of crushed bone coats the uneven floor of the Diablodon’s lair. The recessed ledge is the ruddy color of a charnel house, painted in dried blood and heaped with skeletons. A gas vent deeper beneath the overhang spews an acrid yellow cloud from the cavity. Like a daemon stalking through the smoke of hell, an obscured red creature prowls the lair. It noses at a scrap-coated ribcage. A sharp cracking sound follows as it tears a rib free to devour the marrow. Soon the scout, Astramael, spots him: This scarlet monster is the pinnacle predator on a planet teeming with deadly midasaurs. It has a distinctive sagittal crest that seems to blaze in the sunlight, and stands taller than a Dreadnought. Its giant yellowed claws alone are the size of power swords, each one permanently stained crimson by the blood of the dead—along with its overlapping needle fangs. Spotting the Battle-Brothers it charges and while it nearly bites Cadmus in two it is soon brought down through the efforts of the kill team. The return to the city brings a change in the inhabitants. They seem to hold the space marines in a higher regard. Rylus meets them at his residence: “Well done, my friends. Truly you live up to your legends. Thank

you for undertaking the Trial. It will mean much to my people. It
is only proper that we celebrate your great accomplishment as we
would any warrior’s. However, I suspect that first you would like
to speak of the lurking, scythed death that has infected Aurum.”
Details about Grensvayl are given, the withdrawl of the settlement and subsequent quarantine. After the topic of Tyranids is broached Rylus comments:
“Your Crusade has talked of these devouring mantises that bear
down on all of us from the edge of what is known. If I did not
believe them once I certainly cannot deny it now. In truth, it was
never a matter of disbelief. Aurum is a world of many beauties
and many dangers. Why should the galaxy be any different? The
real choice before me has always been one of the lesser enemy. I
have learned all that I can of your Imperium. Are they truly a
kinder master to their slaves than the Malissectors?” He shakes
his head. “But do not let my musings distract you from your duty.
Whatever I may think of the other men of the Eagle, you are
undoubtedly worthy. I grant you leave to go where you will on
Aurum. These Malissectors, these Gene Stealers, are a plague on
all of us. Is there any aid you require in purging them?”

The kill team readily agrees and prepares for the trip to Grensvayl. Fortuitously deciding to take the Thunderhawk gunship to transport them there. The settlement finally ceases to be a flicker of balefire on the horizon and materializes into a blazing inferno. The tainted settlement of Grensvayl has been completely sealed into a circle

of cliffs by man-made avalanches. Dozens of Auran sentries keep watch from above, and drip a steady coat of unrefined promethium down the cliff edges to keep the blazing wall of fire fueled. Barely visible through the flames is the scorched, desolate town. Its river is close to dry; its buildings are burnt and blackened; its famed orchards are withered. Yet, something moves in the dead town: hunched, hideous shapes weaving between the flickering shadows.
Upon landing they meet Heydal who has command of the fire perimeter. Talking with him the party learns of attempted escape attempts by the xenos quarantined below. Quickly a stealth drop is decided upon, but first Johansson mentions an orbital strike by the light cruiser Horizon’s Pride might be in order. This rain of fire, while not perfect due to the angle of the canyon walls, razes most of the canyon. As the Thunderhawk takes the team into Grensvayl soon after, not a structure is standing and the orchards are ablaze. Still, some genestealers were alive to make it a tough go for the space marines. But with the help of the gunship only minor injuries were sustained. After purging the valley,near the western edge of the settlement, spotted something unnatural set into the cliff wall. A shock of twisted, corroded metal marred that world of plants and stone. Looking closer, they saw that fragments of artificial
rock face still cling to what appears to be a mangled bulkhead door. Larger chunks of the shattered veneer lay in rubble nearby. Once, the hatch might have been well hidden, but now it is just as ruined as the surrounding town. Within the Battle-Brothers find a cavern strewn with mining equipment and Decavane crystals. Within a side chamber a large plasteel cylinder, covered in a thick layer of grime and holding a six-shackled adamantine restraint harness was found along with a pile of parchment schematics. The durable parchment and rich inks survived years of dirt and dankness well. These were scribed with care. The main diagram shows an octagonal crystal conduit of indeterminate size. Several notations and sub-diagrams detail runes and complex circuit patterns. The papers seem sorceress in nature. Another side chamber contained a pile of tubes, coils and manipulators that once were of a mechanicus adept. Nearby a pile of cogs that once formed a grotesque machine of indeterminate nature are found. Several of the components are etched with the symbol of a cog inside an eight-pointed chaos star. Other than a large sub-cavern that had been denuded of its decavane crystals the team only encounted three infected Auran warriors that almost succeded in killing some of the team in a huge electrical discharge of some booby trapped crystals.

After calling for extraction the heroes returned to Haistand and an audience with the Caele – Rylus. The Caele needs little convincing to join the Imperium at this point, but he offers one last alternative:
“Will you at least consider another option? You could tell the Imperium that the Gene Stealers had planted their roots too deep. Tell them that our world is doomed, and that your people must flee it for their own safety. The ancient soul of Aurum tells me that the Crusade will not be kind to our people. How long before we become only farm laborers for your armies? Until all that makes this planet glow is stripped away? For years the Aspirance has preached that death will soon come to Aurum if their armies do not stop it, and this may be true. But our warriors would gladly fill the war grounds to lay down their lives against an enemy. They will not find such peace in servitude.”
Realizing that this option would lead to Exterminatus, the Battle-Brothers maneuvered Rylus into joining the Imperium as discussed. A great celebration of the purge of Grensvayl and the upcoming Imperial submission is planned for the next day.

The Battle-Brother looking resplendent in their Deathwatch armor are met by Alkedre at the Caele’s homestead. She presents each with a necklace displaying the fangs of a Diablodon threaded with the scales in distinctive fashion. She also present a couple of the team with fire scaled cloaks as requested. The rogue trader Diaz Lan and Brigadier Heth are also present in dress uniforms. Diaz Lan made sure to be present now that negotiations had finally concluded. A large and garish (to the Space Marines) procession takes the assembled dignitaries to the Warrior’s Hall. The road is lined with cheering Aurans and Imperial settlers as well – each seeming to enjoy the company of the other in this hour of celebration. Upon arriving at the hall, Rylus comes forth to stand in front of the huge bonfires and Genestealer corpse monument. He raises one hand and the crowd falls silent: “My people, as I look in your faces, I can see you know that today is a great day. By this act of bravery by the Imperium’s warriors, by these Adeptus Astartes, our lives are changed forever.” He gestures at the monument. “For

more than a decade these monsters have threatened our planet, as the Imperium’s speakers have tried to tell us they threaten the lives of all men. We would not listen.” He turns to Brigadier Heth, and then to the Battle-Brothers. “Whatever else may come, we hear you now. Whatever other rocks of grievance we may split, the ancient Spirit of Aurum knows you as noble warriors.”
The crowd erupts in cheers, which go on for some time before Rylus turned to the team and indicated for them to address the crowd. Reluctantly a brief address was given and then the dignitaries filtered into the hall.

The warm Auran sun filtered into the hall through high windows, bathing the feast in warm gold light. Several long tables had been prepared with the planets bounty. Dozens of varieties of sliced fruit and baked grains surround centerpieces of whole, roasted argrax and platters of basted midasaur ribs. Pitchers of handfruit nectar and fermented red sap are available. As the chosen attendees file in, small emerald lizards assemble around them to beg for table scraps. The large hall fits a great number of people around many long tables for the feast. Many more are not able to gain entrance and remain celebrating outside. Each of the Deathwatch sit at different tables headed by notables from the planet or Imperium. The feast carries on with much carousing and telling of tales from both sides until one of the kill-team hears a shrieking hiss over the clamor of the hall: The Genestealers’ appearance in the hall is so sudden that they seem to have materialised, like a discordant element of a dream— or a nightmare. Many of the creatures are stained black, and drip viscous crude promethium. There is no moment of posturing, and no time for their victims to scream. The first Aurans cut down never even see what murdered them. They die with cups in hand, smiles on their lips. The next few are not so fortunate. They have

just enough time to begin reaching for their weapons. They die with the reflections of the xenos monsters in their dead eyes. At the head of this teeming brood is a monster larger and more hideous than the rest. It towers above its smaller kin, every midnight plate ridged with protrusions, and a wicked intelligence gleaming in its malicious eyes. The Broodlord leaps towards the Caele’s table as its chitinous minions progress down the banquet laid out before them.

The feast hall is quickly overtaken by carnage. The entire building is a frenzy of battle, with distinct fights breaking out at each table. Fire is quickly put to use to set ablaze the promethium soaked genestealers and the Broodlord is brought low by an intense pounding from Johansson’s heavy bolter. A concerted charge near the end of the fight nearly takes out Diaz Lan, but he escapes with minor scratches. Numerous people have been infected in the hall, but the apothecary Verran is able to run tests to determine who is or is not infected. The Caele deals with his own infected in dour fashion. After this purge the Battle-Brothers return with Lan to the Horizon’s Pride – hoping that a final purge against the planet can be avoided. Lan sincerely thanks the team on behalf of the Crusade for their help with Aurum, but otherwise keeps to himself, sobered by his brush with the Genestealers. When the ship reaches Erioch, he bids them a formal but brief goodbye before leaving them to debrief with their Watch Captain.
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Session 12/8/2013 Recap
For the Emperor

Recap for session on 12/8/2013

The Battle-Brothers’ introduction to Aurum began with a visit from a Rogue Trader named Diaz Lan. The Kill-team’s Watch Captain had already accepted the Mission at the time he sent the Battle-Brothers to hear Lan’s request, although he had not yet informed Lan of his decision. The Deathwatch arranged for Lan’s audience to take place on a platform overlooking one of the Watch Station’s numerous practice ranges. This one was for arctic training, and the sound of live-fire exercises billowed up with the frigid air. All of the brothers, except for the Librarian Cadmus, approached sans armor.
Lan was waiting (and appeared to have been waiting for some time) when the Battle-Brothers reached the riveted metal platform. He was swathed in a cruxermine fur cloak, which he was holding tight around his trim frame. Ice particles clung to his short silver hair. The Brothers waited in silence for Lan to talk, and after a moment he did so:
“My humblest apologies if you have already heard something of our plight. I will be frank with you. The Lord Militant believes that some kind of alien creature has descended upon Aurum. I’m sure venerable warriors such as yourselves will be more than a match for it. However, the truth that the Crusade needs your help in another matter on that planet—possibly one that only you can address. Aurum is a valuable world, and its people did not turn to dark powers during the Age of Shadow. However, they have proved remarkably resistant to negotiation. Their leader, a devil of a warrior who calls himself Rylus Darkscourge, won’t permit any sizeable Imperial detachments to land, nor will he allow our people to stray beyond their capital city. Some over-zealous prospectors tried to stray beyond these edicts once, and their deaths nearly shattered our fragile peace. The Aurans are a proud people, and the truth is I think they’re not impressed by us. We could pacify the world, but the last thing we need is one more population held by force instead of faith.”
As to why the world was important, Lan explains the presence of the Decavane Crystals, as well as the extraordinary agricultural opportunites it presents make it important to the war effort.
He also provided more information on the recent deaths. Since 783.M41, the Imperium has had a presence in Haistand, which passes for Aurum’s capital city. Small groups of diplomats and missionaries have resolutely persisted in their efforts to forge a lasting alliance with the natives. Both the previous and current Caele allowed Imperials to land, but not to venture beyond Haistand. Over the last few years, the missionaries have observed an unusual number of disappearances; these events are doubly suspicious because the populace, and the Caele in particular, meet inquiries with stony silence. The situation came to a head when Sister Rachayel, a Sister Hospitaller accompanying the Ecclesiarchy, was found dead. As Lan describes it:
“Her body was found in the Mission, with her own dagger through her chest. The locals were eager to call it a suicide due to a weak spirit. She may not have been a Sister of Battle, but no loyal member of her order would throw away her life. And there have been other deaths. Perhaps just a few, perhaps many. It’s hard to say as the Aurans seem to be concealing them from us. The few bodies we’ve seen were meticulously stripped of everything: flesh, skin, blood. Some had deep grooves in the ribcage and arms, as though something had cleaved through to the bone itself. Since the Imperium has been unable to survey beyond Haistand, some sort of xenos could easily occupy other regions of the planet. Perhaps the Aurans even know. I shudder to think that they may even be thrall to some alien presence we know nothing about. It could be why they are so insistent not to let us go beyond the single city. Whatever is behind this, I’d say there is more than the Imperium bargained for on Aurum.”
Brother Cadmus called the rest of the team to the side at this point and feigned a great debate over whether or not accept Lan’s proposal. Finally acquiescing they agreed to meet lan aboard the extremely opulent “Horizon’s Pride” – an Imperial light cruiser that belongs to the rogue trader.
The teams Captain was pleased with the treatment Lan received from the Brothers and authorized them requisition as he tasked them with their mission and oath taking. The mission’s Primary Objectives follow:
• Primary Objective: Discover what is committing the murders on
• Primary Objective: Eliminate the threat on Aurum
• Primary Objective: Convince the Aurans to re-assimilate into the Imperium
After deliberation Brother Librarian Cadmus was given leadership of the squad and the Oath to the Emperor was taken in the Erioch Fortress main chapel.
Not long after armoring the Kill team boarded the Rogue Trader’s vessel. To the Brother’s, the opulence of the Horizon’s Pride was wasted and while the luxurious rooms given for their passage were extremely well appointed only the beds would serve beings of such stature. With that, only Brother Astramael slept on one.
Travelling with the Deathwatch team was Brigadier Archibal Heth, the new Ambassador-Militant to the planet of Aurum. He has a dual role – diplomacy and command of the few Imperial Guard troops permitted in Haistand, the capital of Aurum. Heth was greatly relieved the team would be involved on the planet. The Brigadier was more then willing to tell the Battle-Brothers much about the politics, people and geography of Haistand. (that info was in the two handouts given previously).
Not quite two weeks out from the watch fortress, about midway in the trip to Aurum, the team was attacked in their suites by a group of corrupted servitors. Luckily there were only two minor injuries as the servitors seemed inhibited in their ability to hit anything, a slash to Brother Johansson and a singeing caused to Brother Astrmael by Brother-Librarian Cadmus’s psychic blast. The team was also able to come to the timely rescue of Brigadier Heth, whose room was under assault just down the hall. Evidently there were limited attacks around the ship by corrupted servitors. This was reported a few days later by Lan as having been caused by an Enginseer named Kreth who had previously been killed by a ship’s crewman by the name of Kohl Bennex. Bennex was in the brig awaiting judgement for murder of the enginseer when the attacks occurred. He has been released as it was now believed he acted in self-defense when Kreth attacked him after reporting witnessing oddities about some servitors.
After about a Month the Horizon’s Pride arrives at Aurum and Diaz Lan sees the Battle-Brothers off:
“I fear I’ve worn out my welcome with the Aurans. You know that particular sour look your Watch Captain gets whenever I darken your threshold? That expectation that his patience is about to be tried? It’s rather the same look Caele Darkscourge gets when he sees me. Your Mission will go better without my aid, rest assured.”
Aurum is true to its namesake. The atmosphere is a soft gold as you descend through it. The shuttle speeds over sandy plateaus wrapped in leafy vines before Haistand comes into view. The tribal capital towers on the border between the planet’s canyon savannahs and its fertile mesas. Haistand rests on the flat top of a great cliff, where time has tightly packed more stone and wood structures into the same space. A wide road winds up the cliff-side to accommodate a steady stream of natives from the outlying lands. The shuttle sets down in a wide circle where the rich brown soil is exposed. The primitive landing pad at the edge of town is the only accommodation made for off-worlders. Two other crafts with Imperial markings also sit there, empty.
Aurans look every inch the part of a warrior people. They stand taller than average humans by nearly a head, and their bronze-skinned bodies are lean and fit. Auran garments are cut from skins and hides, while interlaced reptile scales form the common basis for armor; their implements of crafting and war are largely bone. Most of the planet’s fauna is reptilian, including the unusual saurian strain dubbed midasaurs. These creatures have incredibly resilient scales that glitter with streaks of gold in Aurum’s sunlight. The primary herd animal is the argrax, a slightly less temperamental strain of grox whose larger relatives remain wild on the plains, and are often hunted for food. The primary mount and beast of burden is a sleek bipedal lizard called a theratryx.
The Auran reaction to the Space Marines varies. Here their iconic power armor is not a legendary profile, but a point of curiosity. Natives of all ages and genders show an obvious interest in this new breed of off-worlder, but no fear. Haistand’s buildings are mostly of primitive but sturdy masonry, and their ceilings are high enough to accommodate most Space Marines because of the natives’ natural height. Residences and shops crowd each other and the busy streets, which throng with carts, livestock, and pedestrians.
As soon as the Battle-Brothers entered the city, they made for the prominent residence of the Caele of Aurum. The Caele’s residence sprawls along one of the cliff edges. The main structure is three stories high and ancient, dating beyond the memory of any living Auran. It has a flat roof and striking granite columns at the entrance. Time and the elements have eroded the columns, but large swathes of their original inscriptions remain visible. They portray overlapping ellipses, angles, and vectors. Smaller stone annexes connect to the large house by gravel paths. The complex includes a small pen for theratryx mounts, and a large garden of hanging plants. A few warriors come and go from the main building, but they seem to be on errands more than patrol.
The Kill-team meets Alkedre Firestalker Sinsar (second in command) for Caele Rylus Darkscourge. She carries a giant two-handed sword and wears bright red scale armor; more of those scales hang in her blond hair. Alkedre seems positive and happy that the Brothers are there, this is an opportunity to improve Auran technology and battle techniques while seeing other stars.
The team is almost immediately ushered into the homestead complex for an audience. After introducing themselves in too ingratiating of a manner for Astramael, Cadmus broaches the subject of integration with the Imperium. Rylus is dismissive of the Crusade’s overtures of alliance, saying that the Imperium has yet to prove they have either the capacity or the worth to govern the Auran people. After a little back and forth, Rylus agrees to see the team after he has a few days to think about their petition to become closer to the Imperium.
Leaving the Caele’s residence, the group decided to visit the Aspirance which is the Imperial Guard barracks in Haistand. This two-story stone building sits on the corner of the war grounds that provides a space for Haistand’s protectorate to practice their trade. The war ground is quite large, but only being actively used in one smallish area, the rest of the field starting to show incursions of plant life from the surrounding grassland. A platoon of Aurun warriors are exercising on the grounds as the team enters Brigadier Heth’s new HQ. They find Heth behind a cramped desk going through the papers of his recently deceased predecessor who had slighted one of the nearby native warriors with a careless remark and then compounded that mistake by accepting a challenge to battle – with lethal results for him. Heth offers to help the Battle-Brothers however he can, offering his troops up for questions as the Brothers feel necessary.
In the meantime, Cadmus had approached the war grounds and was observing the Auran warriors at their practice, most of which was unarmed or with melee weapons. Only a single bow was in evidence. After a few minutes the rest of the team joined Cadmus. While the Aurans did give the Battle-Brothers curious glances, they quickly and deliberately ignored them. In an attempt to impress the Aurans, Astramael challenged Johansson to a duel and promptly thrashed him in but a few quick moves. Noticing that this did not receive a lot of attention, Brother Astramael approached the group of warriors. Their leader came to stand in front of the space marine fixing Astramael with a hostile gaze. Astramael offered to fight him to in a show of comradeship. The Auran acted as if insulted and ordered his men off the field saying over his shoulder to Astramael, “You are not a warrior”.
The Brothers decided to visit the Ecclesiarchy building on the other side of town. No doubt to reinforce their faith in the Emperor after being rebuffed by the Auran warriors. Approaching the converted single story residence with a meticulously painted Aquila above the door the Battle-Brothers witness A gaunt, balding man in worn Ecclesiarchy robes standing outside the mission. He holds a worn copy of the Imperial Creed in one hand as three Aurans tower over him wearing mocking expressions. One of the young men makes a half-hearted grab for the book. “Why would a real god need his stories saved in your see-speak?” The missionary narrowly avoids the first Auran but almost backs into another. The second one leans in “Why does he use frail old men to spread his name? If your Emperor is so mighty, why don’t real warriors follow him?” It is at that moment the missionary catches sight of you. His eyes alight with hope, as though the Emperor himself has just answered his prayers. He straightens his posture and points defiantly towards you. “Here, here is your answer! I have told your disbelieving ears that the Emperor protects, and the proof stands before you. These men are his holy champions, and the mightiest warriors in the galaxy.”
The sudden appearance of such imposing off-worlders combined with Father Marius’s speech is enough to startle the natives into silence and they melt off into the streets. The Father is happy indeed and leads the brothers into the chapel where they pray. After he is very helpful in relating some activities. He was the one who found the sister’s body here in the Word of Faith, by an altar to Saint Dominica. The body has since been returned to her order for final rites. Rachayel bore great suspicion towards the faithless of Aurum. Towards the end of her life, she had begun to suspect that they were hiding a dark secret. She confided to Father Marius that she sometimes saw flames dancing on the western horizon and small convoys of men setting out from Haistand through its back gates in the dead of night—always heading north. Rachael thought the recent deaths were the work of a daemon, and spent many nights searching for it. Marius is not sure whether he believes her assertion or not, but he cannot deny that she must have encountered something dreadful during the midnight hunts. He does not believe she would have been so cowardly as to kill herself, even in the face of a daemon. Marius knows she ranged at least to the cliffs beneath Haistand and the surrounding lands, but says she was sometimes gone days at a time, so her search may have extended further. The last time he saw her alive, she had been planning to follow the next suspicious train of wagons north.
Leaving the helpful and happy Father Marius, the Kill-Team headed back to the Aspirance, weaving in and out of merchant stalls in the Commerce Aisles. The Brothers were stopped by a merchant wanting to purchase their “fabulous thinstone armor” (actual stone is used to make the Deathwatch iconography on their left pauldron). Offering a herd of lizard livestock, his personal residence in Haistand and a set of axes edged with the diamond hard fangs of a diablodon he was rebuffed. Finally he reached into his clothes and brought out a very unusual knife. Its handle was carved stone, but the blade was a large, curving talon of sleek charcoal black chitin. This was identified as a Xenos blade from some sort of Tyranid creature. He promised 4 of them for the armor. Under casual questioning he revealed that a merchant had sold them for not very much, a few months back. Said merchant having left Haistand not soon thereafter.
The Battle-Brothers made use of their new lodgings in the Imperial Guard barracks to talk to some of the guardsmen and perform their daily absolutions. Astramael went to the roof to look for the glow to the west and did indeed see one in the far off distance. The smell of something burning led him through Haistand to the edge of the northern cliff, identifying promethium he returned to gather the team.
Upon returning to the cliff face all of the Brothers were able to detect the smell of promethium in the air. Far below on the winding path from the Haistand to the lowlands the Brothers detected a couple of wagons carrying a cargo of bound men. Brother Librarian Cadmus decided to descend and follow them towards the source of the promethium. The squad took to the edge of the 200m cliff and began its descent. Leading from the front Brother Astramael lost his grip and was unable to catch himself, falling almost the entirety of the distance to the valley floor before igniting his jetpack and softening his landing.
Catching up to the slow moving wagons, the team was able to stay undetected as the land sloped steadily downwards. As the smell of promethium was almost overpowering the terrain dropped into a lowland of black bubbling rents in the earth. Crude promethium welling up into large pools. Men with black-stained limbs were scooping the promethium into buckets and carrying it across shaky wooden planks that connected one uneven piece of solid ground to another. From a distance the Brothers observed the wagon crews being attacked by a wheeling, shrieking ring of reptilian predators that seemed to surround the pits – the heat and fumes keeping them from getting in. Only the bows kept them at bay enough to pass into the perimeter, but even then one of the shackled prisoners was dragged from the cart and covered in devouring reptiles.
As the party watched the carts pass around a rock outcropping they weighed their options and then decided to skirt the workers as much as possible and continue further in. Almost making it into the protective cover of the promethium fields Brother Johansson crushed a rock under his armored boot and gained the attention of 8 or so sky ravagers. Instinctively he brought his heavy bolter to bear at the shrieking mass descending towards him when a quick sub-vocal warning stayed his trigger finger. Instead Johansson proceeded to dodge and weave as the reptiles circled and repeatedly tried to hit the swift moving Space Wolf. The rest of kill-team, given this opportunity charged and utterly destroyed the flyers in quick fashion. No alarm being raised the team continued into the interior of a perimeter that seemed unguarded. Perhaps the flying reptiles acted as unwitting jailers…
Despite the Apothecary and Brother Astramael dipping into pools of promethium the team was able to view the crude penal barracks area. The barracks, really no more than a framework of bone covered by treated hides, provided shelter for the many prisoner engaged in sleeping at this early hour. A few early risers were about preparing the morning meal as one left the main area and approached closer to the Astartes in hiding. As he passed but a few meters from them he stopped in looked into the dark. Not changing his aspect he continued on. After a quick discussion Astramael approached him and took him under tow to the waiting Brothers. A very intimidated but dull prisoner responded to their questions about Auran justice systems and his own crime (one of cowardice) before learning that wagons brought prisoner in from Haistand and promethium left out the other direction after other wagons were loaded. This has been going on for years. Not fearing discovery the Brothers returned the prisoner to his task and retraced their steps to the foot of the mesa upon which Haistand sits.
What should have been a quick climb to the top almost turned into tragedy as Brother Librarian Cadmus almost fell to his death. Barely 40 meters into his ascent he lost his grip and was unable to arrest his fall. Cadmus had no jetpack to save him as he plummeted into the floor of the valley. The apothecary swiftly back tracked down the cliff face expecting to have to harvest geneseed but discovered the Librarian still alive. For a hundred meters the only soft sand amongst a broken rocky surface cushioned his fall. Truly the Emperor protects. Swiftly applying first aid the Kill-team was able to make the ascent and return to the guard barracks.
The next day, a swiftly healing Kill-team decided to pay a visit to the Caele. Deciding to go before being invited again. This time to make use of information garnered from the Caele’s Sinsar before leaving his residence the day before. They would ask to be allowed to prove themselves warriors to the Aurans in order to effectively prosecute their mission.
Once again, they are quickly given audience to the Caele by the Sinsar Alkedre. While not the open book of friendship being offered by Alkedre, the Caele seemed happy at the request saying:
“Even if I wished to grant you an exception to the laws which have governed your emissaries for decades, my people would never accept it. Honoured warriors though you may be in your own Imperium, you are unproven here. No Auran has a voice in our councils until they are initiated through our rituals. I am told your Brotherhood has similar traditions of choosing, so surely you understand their importance.” His expression, while still grim, betrays a spark of hope. “I will offer you an opportunity I have presented no others: undergo a Trial of Proving. Do this, and not only will you advance your Imperium in the eyes of my people, but I will then be free to grant you whatever freedoms and answers you need in pursuit of the threat which brought you here.”
The team accepted this trial and the offer of help preparing extended by Alkedre Firestalker.

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