[3rd part of the session report] The characters made planet fall in their Arvus Lighter (and somehow, I forgot to narrate the fact that it takes time to fly the Lighter from the edge of the system to the plant…well) and set up a camp on a clearing they landed on. While Silicia programmed the servitor autopilot for the “come-her-and-land-on-the-next-clear-landing-pad” routine they had in mind, Sister Valentina unloaded some of the equipment while Eisenstein secured the clearing. The four-armed, four-eyed, ape-like creatures with the huge claws that observed them from the treetop did not bothered the well-armed, well-armored throne agents little, but the sounds they heard in the distance made them wary. From the briefing they knew that the slightly higher gravity and the somewhat higher oxygen level in the atmosphere head lead to some quiet massive native lifeforms.
After they had a set of screamers up and ready (to shy away any wildlife that would try to approach the Arvus) and applied some camouflage nets to their craft, they decided to make use of the final six hours of daylight to get to the base to do a little scouting and observation( Saliwaan has a 20-hour-rotation with 14 hours of daylight and 6 hours of night). With the help of a navigation satellite (the Mechanicus had placed one in the orbit) they planed a route to the Research Base and got going.
From what they knew, the trip could take about three to fours hours and the forest ahead of them was dense and untouched by men. The flora was not as alien as they might have expect, but far from familiar. At the start, their surrounding was a lot like light wood, but the later appearance of fungal growth made Eisenhorn sneer [they had been on Temperance on their last mission, so this reaction was quiet understandable]. A wide, six meter deep chasm cost them some time, but they passed all their Strength and Athletic checks.
The forest grew more dense and they had to take turns with the machete work to avoid exhaustion. Still, they worked their forward even so the canopy above them grew thick enough to plunge the forest into darkness. Some of those monkey-like creatures followed them in the canopy, but did so quietly. The PC had their weapons up and the beasts did not attacked, and after a while, they left. Much later, as the forest grew a little less dense, they heard the bellowing and wailing calls of a LARGE beast nearby, but where able to avoid it by guessing its direction. Instead, they only heard how a tree was brought down. Fungal growth became more dominant and the ground got boggy as the slowly came into a partially flooded area. They feared for a swamp, as even a light bog would have forced the Sister of Battle in her power armor to take a detour, but managed to get through. Not without their first run in with the native fauna, best described a a cross breed between a bat, a macaw and a piranha. It took them a moment to recognize that the tiny teeth could not pierce their armor, and so they fended them off without a shot (to my dismay, they were smart enough to realize that firing a bolter might warn somebody off).
As they got near the Research Base, they found evidence of defoliant use (or better, “stray sprays & splats” of them) that got worse the closer they came. Plants where dead but for one kind of grass that grew in strange, thick groups like spica but as high as 1,50 meters. Silica took up position in the last tree that was stable enough to carry her and had at least SOME foilage left (which was about 500m away from the base) and tried to observe the situation through her scope for a while. She did not like what she saw at all: a servo skull flew in slow circles above the base, a kyber-mastiff prowled the ground and at least the servo-skull a “watch change” with another of its type (so it could get back inside for its reload cycle). There was small transport craft and half an hour before dusk, an anti-grav vehicle returned with a Tech-Priest and a guard. They unloaded some small boxes into the base (sample containers) and a little before dawn, three further servo skulls with sample containers came in.
Meanwhile, one of my players mumbled something about “kobayashi maru test”. I guess they are not at ease with the situation, since it means “assault with cover fire, and the close quarter fighters need to do the job”. Because they cannot lay a siege this time and they cannot solve it with grenades as they need the Magos alive and they need to make sure that the data is not deleted.
This is were we ended our last session. I need to put a little extra preparation into the assault. Perhaps…PERHAPS..I can make them sweat a little this time.