We shipped our wounded back to the Aspirance and took stock of our situation. The medical staff at the Aspirance were adequate to tend to Sarlock, and in a few days’ time he was up and working on repairs for his badly-damaged armour. For more reasons than one we thought it best that Hrolfgar be attended by one of our own.
Hrolfgar had very nearly died, but the genestealers – no doubt recognising their taint – didn’t quite kill him. He was very fitful in his sleep, no doubt wrestling with the Hive-Mind’s assault on his mind. But I am glad to say that he held strong against it, and I assisted Ogur in finding and removing the source of the infection, a bundle of corrupt matter implanted in his neck. Hrolfgar will probably have some nasty scars from the experience, but no doubt that will please him.
On his recovery, he announced in his loudest Space Wolf voice that he’d had a vision – perhaps induced by his close shave with the Hive-Mind? He confirmed that we’d killed about half of the presence at Grynsval – but, confirming my fears, he’d also glimpsed a Genestealer presence elsewhere.
While Hrolfgar and Sarlock healed, we spent much of the next week investigating, attempting to root out any trace of a ‘stealer cult in Highstand or the surrounds, but with no success. We also took the time to make several fly-overs in Grynsval. On the first, we dropped a large argrax into the village to see if the presence of a large food animal would draw genestealers out; Thorhammer killed one, but the rest took cover, and we decided it would be futile to try again. They’re not stupid.
We’d agreed that it’d be useful to find the ship we believed to have brought the infestation, and so Sarlock tuned his auspex to hunt for metals, rare on this world. We found a concentration near Grynsval, which made some sense
Finally, once Hrolfgar and Sarlock were recovered, we returned to Grynsval in force. This time we started by adopting a suggestion of Hrolfgar’s, and firebombing the village by dropping buckets of promethium from the air. The result was quite gratifying; although we couldn’t kill them all, especially the ones embedded in heavy cover, we reduced their numbers considerably before we landed. Ogur had taken samples from our earlier victims, and had synthesised a toxin for our blades, quite effective if a little short-lived.
We began at the warrior lodge. The wooden top floor was burnt out, but the ground floor was solid stone construction, and Sarlock detected three ‘stealers lurking inside. Krak’atoa took the lead by punching through a window and saturating the inside with his flamer, flushing out one of the vermin for me to kill. The other two refused to come out, so I ventured closer and baited them into charging, whereupon Thorhammer and Hrolfgar blew them away before they could reach my waiting blade.
Next we tackled the storehouses. Inside the first we found a group of filthy hybrids huddled together – the first hybrids we’d seen – and I threw two grenades in to flush them out. When they rushed us, Krak’atoa flamed them. Once again, Sarlock’s auspex detected several ‘stealers hiding inside; Krak’atoa went through the doorway and immediately five of them dropped on him from above. (In hindsight, probably should have mentioned that they like to do that, but I just assumed that all chapters would cover this sort of thing in initiation. My mistake!)
In any case, we reacted quickly and slaughtered the lot before they could cause any serious trouble. While our attention was on that storehouse another group of five burst out from the next one, but Thorhammer had been watching our backs, and by the time I turned around there were only twitching corpses.
From there, we swept the village but found no more life of any kind, so we moved on to the caves. And here we found the metal Sarlock had detected: a metal hatch, clearly not local workmanship, that had once sealed off the mine but now stood open, smashed.
We headed into the cave and found glowing decavane crystals on the wall, along with signs of what seemed to be a mining operation – very odd, given Tyranids’ usual lack of interest in such things. Our auspex picked life-forms and we followed it into a large chamber guarded by several more hybrids, among them four who had adapted two heavy mining lasers to use as weapons.
One of them shot at me and I narrowly dodged, then triggered my jump packs and flew across the room through a wave of hybrids to take off his head. His companion glanced Krak’atoa before I finished him, but no serious harm was done. Meanwhile Sarlock killed the other crew with a well-aimed burst of autofire, and our comrades killed the mob that had rushed them.
The chamber had clearly been used for a mining operation, extracting decavane crystals – some of them were powering the lasers that had just shot at us – which added to our suspicions that this wasn’t a straightforward ‘stealer infestation, if any such thing exists. We also found the same symbol we’d seen before in another cave: two concentric circles, linked by horizontal and vertical lines, with an upwards-pointing arrow at the top.
Near the back of the room was a large downshaft, which I approached with some caution. Inevitably there was a genestealer lurking down there (isn’t there always?) and it latched onto me, but I triggered my packs again and popped out of the shaft, ramming it into the ceiling and scraping it off before it could do too much damage. My battle-brothers killed it with concentrated fire, and I returned to the downshaft. It looks as if a large amount of decavane had been extracted, and it no longer seemed to be in evidence – apparently moved out of Grynsval. (Do genestealers eat such things? I doubt it, but who knows?)
Exploring another fork, we found a room with eight hybrids sleeping in cots. Having learned from experience, Hrolfgar looked up to see several purestrains lurking on the ceiling in ambush, and he blasted them with psi-lightning; by the time they hit the floor they were charred and broken. The hybrids offered little resistance, and when we searched the room we found two bodies, long-dead, in amongst a mess of mechanical parts and black ichor that reminded us of the treacherous servitors who’d tried to kill us at the start of the mission.
The bodies themselves had not been eaten – unlike every other scrap of organic material in Grynsval – which suggests that they must have been very badly tainted indeed. What is so noxious even a Genestealer cult won’t eat it?
Exploring the last branch of the cave, we found no more opposition, but we did come to a large cryo-cylinder with six shackles inside a plasteel tube. The conclusion is clear: somebody deliberately shipped a captured genestealer here. Looking around we found a crate holding sinister-looking scrolls, runes, and circuits. While Sarlock couldn’t identify them, we suspect the hand of the Ruinous Powers behind this. Our best guess is that a heretical cult among the Tech-Priests brought the genestealer here to cause distraction (and provide security?) while they mined decavane.
But we found no other Tech-Priests, no patriarch, and no magus. We’ve cleared Grynsval, but there must be another pocket somewhere on this planet – and perhaps a Chaos traitor pulling their strings – and we must root it out.
And what do they want with all that decavane? Nothing good, I’m certain.