Session 8. – Let the bodies hit the floor.
Sometime during the evening we heard gunshots coming from the area back by the train that we hit. A while later, James came stumbling out of the brush. It seems that a job had come up and our furlough was being cut short. Management knew that we’d left the city and thus he’d been sent to fetch us. When we asked him about the gunshots, he claimed that he’d killed some Guild guards and had then had to run, but he assured us that he had lost his pursuers. He was obviously lying so we made sure to keep an extra eye out, just in case. Even so the fool hadn’t thought to try and hide his identity or his appearance, not to mention leaving his MSEC badge on. Hopefully none of the Guild guys noticed.
The next morning, we tied Scott’s body onto Roger’s horse and headed off back towards Malifaux. As we walked, we discussed plans for getting Scott back into the city and to Levi’s. We’d begun moving through a stand of trees when we noticed the smoke of a campfire up ahead. It’s good that we saw this as we then noticed that we’d stumbled upon a group of nephilim that were lying in wait, looking as if they were preparing to ambush the camp! It’s going to be one of those mornings.
Xun (of course) moved first. He charged up and punched on of the small ones to death with his knuckle dusters, then he motioned at the campsite up ahead and teleported up by the fire, probably went to warn whomever was at the camp. I shot the larger one nearby, luckily I was far enough away to be beyond the range of its charge, James, however was not. 2 more tots charges us from the left. Roger froze one to death while I took out the other with my carbine. Hector stepped up and took a shot at a tot, he missed badly though. James was still engaged with the large one that had charged him, he’d done a good job of wounding, but he was covered with blood splatter and the beast’s black blood was sizzling away on his exposed flesh!
Xun appeared back amongst us, wounded and seeking medical attention. Roger meanwhile had hoped up on his horse and moved off to the right, headed up to the front of the skirmish. James struck his neverborn with a devastating blow that drops it, not dead, but close enough. The fight was beginning to look up when one of the tots landed a blow that killed Hector. As he fell, the nephilim seemed to drain his life force and before our eyes, it grew into a larger nephilim! This isn’t good.
Xun moved off and attempted to shoot the incapacitated neverborn on the ground, his shots didn’t do enough and we have bigger fish to fry. James then turned his attention to the newly grown neverborn and dealt it some serious wounds, all the while taking damage from the blood splashes. Roger had continued his attack against another of the larger neverborn and managed to freeze it to death with his cold blasts. In the meantime, another neverborn unlike any I’d seen before came through the trees from the direction of the camp. It wore a mask made of bone and seemed to have strange abilities. When it got close to me, I felt a warmth spread through me. The warmth soon turned into heat and I was wracked with pain as I felt my blood begin to boil! It ceased as I moved away though. It was due to this that I noticed something else. My new bracer began to glow green and some of its energy leeched into me. Whatever it was, the energy had a restorative effect and my injuries were healed!
As I’d moved back to get away from the blood boiling field, it afforded me a better look at the area. From off to the left, I saw a Chinese guy in the garb of a cowboy. He ran out of the brush with a tot hot on his heels. The Chinese guy then stopped, spun on his heels and grabbed the tot as it came within arms-length. He then bit the creature’s throat out! Damn!
Once again, I thought that the fight was well in hand. Then things got even worse. The neverborn that James had been fighting, reared up and bit at James. He must have stumbled for he was unable to dodge and the creature literally bit James’s head off! The creature then grew a second time into an even larger nephilim! I believe that I’ve just witnessed a portion of the nephilim lifecycle! Although they may grow into maturity naturally with time, their primary mechanism of growth seems to be fueled by life energy drained from their victims upon death. They begin as the child sized tots, then grow/evolve into the larger yet still immature specimens, akin to teenagers possibly? These young versions then grow into mature specimens that are quite tall and imposing creatures. They stand a good 3 feet taller than a human with 6 inch claws and some serious muscle mass, these things look like they could tear someone limb from limb. With James dead, I contemplated that we may need to break and run in order to survive. I’ve not heard of any descriptions of creatures such as this. 1 reason may be that they are rare. The other and more probable as well as disturbing reason being that most who face beasts such as this do not survive to report their encounter. I shudder to think of what it could become on its next evolution. My mind is racing with the possibilities.
Luckily, flight did not become necessary. Roger hit the mature neverborn with a cold blast that froze it. This gave me time to put a couple slugs into the masked one’s head which dropped it cold. This enabled the Chinese guy and I to concentrate our fire on the mature neverborn and with Roger keeping it frozen and immobile 3 more shots to the head from the 2 of us finally served to destroy the abomination. Most creatures skulls would have disintegrated from that type of punishment, however, as this horror had a head double the size of a humans, it simply bore its bullet holes as a testament to its difficulty of destruction.
The Chinaman approached and introduced himself as Jack. We exchanged greetings and mutual thanks. We finished off the last neverborn and I then used a couple corpses to heal everyone. As neverborn heads fetched a nice bounty back in Malifaux, we made sure to take their heads, we also rolled Hector and James’s bodies. As we did this, Jack borrowed a shovel and wandered off, he came back looking somber, thus I suspect that he had his own burial with which to attend. We invited him to travel along with us as these woods seemed a bit more dangerous than we were aware previously. So, we then secured Hector’s body to the horse along with Scott and set forth. As no one really gave a shit about James, we left his corpse for the buzzards.
As we walked, we discussed our plans further. Jack looked perplexed but didn’t ask too many questions. He obviously recognized that we were concerned about re-entry into the city. I think he suspected it was because several of us were non-Guild magic users. Our neverborn heads would be the key. We needed to ensure that we made the city in the late afternoon so that the guards who saw us leave would more than likely be off duty. We could then simply claim to have been out of a nephilim hunt where we regrettably lost a couple comrades whose bodies we were returning to be properly buried. Provided they don’t scrutinize us too much we should get away with everything.
After walking for some time, we happened upon a clearing. In the center was a lone tree. Under the tree was a squad of Guild enforcers, a Witchling Stalker, a priest and an individual with a book and wearing an old fashioned lawyer’s wig? In their midst was a horse. Atop the horse was an older Chinese man with a noose around his neck. Off to the side in some brush was a firing line of Guild riflemen. It seems that the Guild was about to have themselves a hanging. The lawyer was reading off a list of charges. The condemned was accused of being a neverborn and a changeling and thus sentenced to death. I motioned for everyone to quietly do an about face so that we could circle around the clearing. However things didn’t exactly work out like that. Jack suddenly charged forward and attempted to shoot the rope strung from the noose to the tree! Everyone then looked in our direction! Damn!
Jack’s 1st shot missed as did his 2nd. Xun didn’t hesitate. He ran into a nearby stand of trees and began firing. Using the distraction, the changeling changed into a child. His head slipped out of the noose and he then jumped off of the horse and punched the nearest guard. I ran for some cover behind some trees. The priest, lawyer, witchling stalker and guards began advancing on us. I guess we are committed. Xun had already wounded the stalker and I was able to finish it off.
The changeling/child had run into the same grove of trees as Xun and Jack. He then said something in Chinese, then he turned into a bird and flew away, you’re welcome. The lawyer had been trying to close in on me. I’d been backing to keep some distance, it was a good thing too as he attempted to put some type of spell on me, it didn’t take though. I’ll tell who what did that, the lawyer. He took my 2 rounds to the chest that opened him up and dropped him like a stone. One of the guards tried to mount the horse and ride off, probably to summon help. Xun ensured that he didn’t make it very far. Jack then scored a nice shot that blew away the priests arm, his crossbow arm at that. I then finished him off with a shot from my carbine.
A second guard then tried to ride off. Jack was able to wound but not kill her. The riflemen attempted to form a firing line to protect her flight. Xun handled that one as well. He teleported right next to the horse and executed a flying punch that nailed the guard and took her right off the back of the horse! Jack, Xun and Roger then picked the riflemen off one by one. One last guard had attempted to find cover in some trees and fire at us, a round from my carbine finished him off.
Having cleared the field, we looked at Jack for an explanation. Despite his reticence to provide answers prior, in this instance he recognized that we were due. He didn’t elaborate much, only saying that by rescuing the changeling hew was honoring a promise that had been made. Fair enough. We looted the corpses for anything of value although much of their gear was stamped with the Ram’s head of the Guild, thus useless to us. After throwing away the marked loot, we still had a decent haul, plus another horse! We packed everything up and set forth for Malifaux keeping our pace so as to make the gates in late afternoon.
We were in luck. Upon reaching the gate we found that it was manned by a different shift of guards. Given our neverborn heads, I had little difficulty in spinning a tragic tale of a group of neverborn hunters venturing out into the wilds and though they returned triumphant, their victory was blunted by the tragic loss of 2 of their party whose remains they’d brought back so that they could be returned to their families Earthside for a proper burial. The guards were sufficiently impressed so as to not overly question our story. They admitted us directly and even paid out the bounty on the neverborn heads, except for the shaman. As they’d never seen anything like it before, they refused to pay any bounty. I hate the Guild. Not wanting any undue attention, we took what was offered and went on our way.
As we traveled to Levi’s, we filled Jack in on the situation. To a point. We advised him that we’d hit the Guild train to recover Scott’s body as payment for some information. I also mentioned that this Levi was not the kind of man with which one trifled and asking questions wasn’t a great idea. Jack seemed to understand.
It was late by the time we arrived. Alice was waiting in her usual perch on the roof. As we approached, she hopped down. Jack got a good hard looking at, but we assured her that he was solid. I think he recognized that she was also quite dangerous and he very quickly took a very respectful tone. Alice shrugged and opened the door for us then escorted us back into the waiting room while she bellowed for Levi. I saw the Babbling Cow still in its corner where it had been left.
Levi emerged from the back and inspected Scott’s body. Proclaiming it satisfactory he called for “Stephan” to come and get the corpse. Stephan was another of Levi’s part human part machine creations. He picked up Scott and carried him into the back. Levi then spent several minutes giving Roger and myself the particulars of the Babbling Cow along with a crash course in charging and using the soulstone pendant, which we would need in order to utilize the spells.
We thanked Levi for his time and departed. It’s a long walk back to the MSEC compound and we will need to make a stop along the way to sell our loot. We invited Jack to come along, he seems capable and we can probably get him a job, hell, since we are down 3 guys it shouldn’t be too hard. Although that brings about another issue. As we walked, we conferred and agreed that the best approach regarding James was to deny that we’d ever seen him. Our story would be that in order to help with my “condition” the individual to whom we’d gone had requested that as payment, we bring him some neverborn internal organs for his research. Thus, we left the city. While in the outlands, we’d come across Jack as some nephilim were preparing to attack his camp. During the fight, Hector and Jack’s comrades were killed. We returned to the city with Hector and Scott so as to have his body returned to his family Earthside. As for James, we had no idea that he had been sent, we never saw nor heard from him. It will go down as just another disappearance. Too bad for Leyla, though. She seemed to have really taken a shine to him. Oh well. Hopefully his replacement will be more level headed.
Through the Breach, Into the Unknown
Journal of Dr. Thaddeus Sartorian - Session 8: Let the bodies hit the floor.
Chronicle of the adventures of Dr. Thaddeus Sartorian in Malifaux
Session 8. – Let the bodies hit the floor.