Sunday 18 March 2018

Fear and Loathing in the Kronus Expanse Gaiden: Electric Boogaloo - Kevins of the Wild OVA

Rogue Trader: A quest for profit in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium. But dying in mediocrity and misery is for poor people and losers, and a Rogue Trader's retinue is anything but.

But this particular story isn't about them. It's about the working class. The real heroes of the imperium.

It's about a bunch of guys named "Kevin".

Note: Due to internal memes, we rolled percentage dice to determine just how European our characters were, and for most of us, 2d10 of how many erections we had encountered. For obvious reasons, Slaaneshi cultists roll this as a d100.

It's been two years since flagfall on the Lord Captain van Hohenheim's new planet, Verloren. With the command staff out and about managing the grand scale of founding a planet, many of the minutae of day-to-day operations is left to the next tier of ship's crew -- trusted lieutenants all, they have forsaken their natural names for their Lord Captain, and taken up the mantle of... Kevin.

Two settlements have been founded to date on the yet-unnamed planet: The main one, unofficially known as "Landfall" in the absence of a formal name, and another, less developed settlement around 40 klicks away where the majority of logging operations on the forested moonlet's extra hard hardwoods occurs. The second site, rife with heavy logging machinery and other dangerous fixtures, has been marred by a string of disappearances and more recently, violent allergies to wood chippers.

A task force of Kevins is assembled:

- Yours truly, Fixy Kevin, an 87% European and having encountered 5 erections in the course of their service.
- Healy Kevin, a 78% European ex-slaaneshi cultist with 53 erections under their belt.
- Smarty Kevin K-Vin, one of the rare female Kevins, clocking in at 30% european with 5 erections.
- Psy-Kevin, a psychically-talented, veteran 9% European Kevin, with 13 erections to date.

We are summoned to the Kevin Barracks (aka "Holding Pen") by Lieutenant Kevin (92% European, 25 erections); with Amasec in hand, he delivers the briefing to us. There is some confusion about the objective, ranging from "go there, kill everyone" to the less inaccurate "go there, find out what happened to the last Kevin who got sent there, blame someone and kill everyone".

Once he's satisfied we know what they're doing, he shoos us out with a spray bottle, to the vehicle waiting outside. Chaffeur Kevin awaits us outside; he snaps a smart salute, and his foot goes clank -- he has what is undoubtedly the handiwork of Magos van Tannhausen grafted to his leg, the foot a circular disc recognizable as a best quality metal mess plate. He obtained it when demonstrating to the Magos that he was, in fact, deathly allergic to woodchippers.

Psy-Kevin calls Shotgun. Everyone else piles in the back. He turns the radio on, and gets the one radio station on the planet, Radio Emperor. All Emperor's Sermons, all the Time. It's uplifting stuff to keep us entertained on the 40km ride to the logging base.

En route, the motorcar makes unusual noises. Which are less usual when you consider it was built by the Good Magos. Still, Fixy Kevin is not dumb enough to try and improve a moving, operational car. It would need to stop first. He leaves it be for now.

All around are signs of the Aquila, as well as the Van Hohenheim family sigil, an Iron Gryphon over a Ship. In case we forgot who pays some of us.

The logging town is orientated around a large, stone pyramid, yet another of the ruins dotting the area. We pull up outside the most impressive-looking building, and get out. I spot a tent nearby, and suggest we go door-to-door, starting with the tent.

The tent is small, and designed for a single person. At most. Psy-Kevin gets inside the tent and finds it to be definitely Guard-Issue -- lasgun burns in tent, patches, the like. Even IG rations, which he notes are extremely close to expiry date -- Smarty Kevin IDs them as being produced for the Damocles Gulf Crusade -- other side of the galaxy, about a century ago. There's also pots and other cookware. Psy-Kevin wonders if he used them to kill some wildlife to supplement his diet. I propose that they were to kill the rations -- nobody knows what happens to IG rations that close to expiry. Psy-Kevin praises me, and I declare it is the reason I am the smart one of the party.

Psy Kevin finds a copy of the Imperial Guardsman's Uplifting Primer, ever reliable and multifunctional. The back has a few bloodstained pages, some torn out. Nothing unusual for the Primer. Psy Kevin finds on the back a note in Low Gothic. I can read it, and I do so. It's a rough schedule of:

- Incoming / Outgoing Logging Trucks
- Shift changes
- Strange drawings of some sort of gem.

We move on and leave the tent be. There's a number of people clustered around a work area, and we proceed to badger them. After a disastrous attempt at Kevin Cant by Psy-Kevin, we inquire further about the Kevin who was here before and fell in a wood chipper. They don't know much about him, but the Overseer probably does. Smarty Kevin immediately departs to speak with him. Psy Kevin lingers to badger the workers further, and lets a little psychic power off the chain; nothing disastrous happens, but we have to shepherd him away.

Smarty Kevin makes the acquaintance of the Overseer, a man in a high-vis vest, and the most irritating laugh, a nervous giggle. He agrees to lead us to the site of the Kevin and his woodchipper; it's been cordoned off, but there's not much we can do about the birds, unfortunately. He talks about the settlement and how Kevin was when he was here. Pretty typical stuff, nothing of note. Aside from an unfortunate incident where a man was cut in half by a crane cable, nothing has happened here.

We arrive at the cordon. There's not a lot of Mushy Kevin left, and one of the birds that the Overseer mentioned is pecking away. He shoos it away with a distraught expression on his face, and Smarty Kevin smokes it with his gun. Healy Kevin tries to perform first aid, but there's just no bringing Mushy Kevin back.

We quiz the Overseer. In short, the chippers are normally signed in/out, but they're only checked once a week. One of the people on shift at the time was Cassius, the Threeman. We could go ask him.

We do so. Cassius  gives us the run-down. He agrees that the settlement is shorthanded, and contradicts the Overseer's claim that there was nothing wrong here. Only a few people can sign out a wood chipper, and the Overseer is one of them. The Overseer is seeming ever more a suspect.

We thank Cassius for his time, and think up a plan. Two of us, Smarty and I, will distract him by asking him to witness our dismantling of the Wood Chipper, while Healy and Psy Kevins will go and be sneaky beeky.

We review the combat drugs we've been supplied with:

- Enough Frenzon for the whole team
- A dose of "Spook", with a handwritten label beneath that is filled with tiny writing -- the dose is experimental, cooked in-house, and we're to report the results of a completed dose to the Seneschal, Sebastian.

We are now the Kev-S-B. We embark on the plan to search the overseer's office.

Smarty Kevin and I approach the Overseer about the wood chipper; we need to know where it is so we can dismantle it. He agrees to show us; Kevin tries to distract him into forgetting to lock the door, but fails and he locks it.

MediKevin and Psykevin approach the office; they have Smarty Kevin's lockpick, and with a bit of fumbling, and thanks to the Van Hohenheims cutting cost on hab materials and lock quality, get in.

Psykevin quickly finds past guard rosters. Medikevin searches dataslates and finds something a little more unusual -- an inventory of equipment like voidsuits that people working in a logging camp have no business with. There's five, but three are damaged. There are signout sheets, and maps of the pyramid near the logging camp.

Meanwhile, we enter the chamber where the dread Wood Chipper resides, looming out of the darkness. I attack the machine with two screwdrivers. The Overseer questions my qualifications. I continue struggling with the fixtures, and he questions our identity; as Smarty Kevin tries to talk the talk, the Overseer is focused on him, and I try to king-hit him with the wrench from behind.

Impossibly, he moves. Like a demon. The Smarty Kevin demands to know who he is. The Overseer simply turns his head and calls for help: "Help! Intruders!"

I blast him with my hellgun. I score hits and we smell pork. I blow the smoke off my hellgun, and reiterate that I was, in fact, qualified for this by the Magos herself -- not my fault the final exam was trial by combat with tools. Then I tell Smarty Kevin to grab his legs so we can shove him into the exit chute. He helps, then departs to lure any potential reinforcements for the Overseer away.

The search team calls me by vox; they a) found a hidden door behind a bookshelf in the Overseer's office, and b) heard the shout for help. I reassure them it's fine, and I'll see them in like 30 seconds. I frisk the Overseer, looking for valuables and the keys to his office, per the search team's suggestion. I find that he is wearing a necklace, and glued to it is a big, red gem. There's something about it... it belongs to me now.

I hoist him out of the exit chute, and into the main feed, before turning the machine on and standing in front of the exhaust -- all part of the plan, I can lie and say a strange monster did it. As a victim, I am clearly innocent.

Meanwhile, Smarty Kevin lies and tells reinforcements that a monster snatched the Overseer, headed *thataway*. They go in the other way from us.

I regroup with Smarty Kevin, coated in blood, and reiterate that I had a plan. We head to the Overseer's office, me trailing blood.

Meanwhile, the search team has followed the secret corridor down to a storage room; neatly kept, it is filled with all manner of strange materials; the voidsuits listed on the manifest, damaged as expected. All belonging to the Righteous Path's crew? Rations and escape pod resources here, ancient.

We regroup with the search team here. After some discussion, we decide to press on, we need to find someone or something to pin the death of Kevin on, if we can't find enough evidence to convict the Overseer. Medikevin asks if anyone locked the door behind us. We probably didn't, so I track a trail of gore back up the tunnel to the office.

The next chamber is odd. It opens up with a steep angle, and there are bones here, arranged in a seven-pointed star. The room itself has been carved to have eight corners, making an eight-pointed star. Medikevin is able to correctly identify this as some sort of altar to Khorne, which is super heretical. I rejoin the party at the mention of blood for a blood god.

Medikevin notices my chest starting to glow. Psykevin immediately snaps off a shot, which splashes on me; I just get... so mad, my knees bend backwards, I grow like two feet at least, and pull a flaming sword out of thin air: I ascend to the ultimate in Kevinhood, a Kevin-Daemon.

Healy Kevin slaps their injector, and has a go at me with their staff; I don't even feel it. Smarty Kevin's lasgun splashes off me. Psy-Kevin focuses, and slapping his injector, summons a sword made of psychic energy; it crackles with power, and we all begin to float.

Healy Kevin has another go at me, and this time, gravity catches me off guard, and they strike deep. Khorne's intervention stays the blade just barely.

Smarty Kevin disengages to escape my wrath. Psy-Kevin lunges forward, and but for the grace of Khorne, I block the attack just barely.

Healy Kevin strikes once more, failing to penetrate. Smarty Kevin takes a shot, but is closer to hitting Healy Kevin.

Psy-Kevin's keen eyes pick something out, and he leaps forth, and strikes the dangling amulet around my neck; his psychic blade strikes my amulet, and there is an almighty crack. A spectral demon pulls free from me, and grabs him by the neck. Both scream violently as they are sucked into the floor, and the room becomes silent as I land heavily on the ground, now normal and naked.

My fellowship drops to 10. I gain psynicience +10, and feel that corruption can no longer change me. I have a wicked scar down the length of my face, neck and torso where Healy Kevin struck the daemon.

As I wake up, I can see a vision of the Overseer coming across a pod in the woods; amongst the voidsuits, the gemstone. Chipping away at stone walls with mining equipment. Feeding Kevin into the woodchipper.

I'm also naked, handcuffed, and cold. Everyone's erection encounter count increases by one.

Lieutenant Kevin has flask of amasec in hand, and wants answers. He gets them, and he stops Smarty and Healy when it gets mighty heretical. I'm stuck in a holding cell. The astropaths might send me to the Inquisition. They might not. I'm put back to work in the meantime, but I've got eyes on me, and I've lost a rank to "Provisional Kevin" again.

At least I'm still Qualified.

I laugh nervously.

Somewhere else...
Psy-Kevin hits the ground hard and finally stops falling. There's an easterly wind as he finds himself in a plaza, surrounded by well-dressed people. He finds the nearest person. "I need to send a message."

Saturday 3 March 2018

Dresden Files: Journey to the Holy Valley, pt 2

We sat down for dinner with the Guardian / Speaker. This valley is a haven for the tribes and peoples who will die. Or would have, if time worked right here. As it is, they're the last of their kinds, in a sense.

The size of the great spirits is discussed; apparently they were a little on the small size. Somewhat alarming. Tomorrow, we meet the spirit of the valley to speak with it. In the meantime, we're free to rest in any one of the communal homes.

We take our leave to have a wander around the valley; we find communities done in the style of their people, but with modern materials. The valley is roughly circular, and the village itself seems to match a seven-pointed star. Braxton seems interested in this, although I can't fathom why.

Braxton wonders where Prospero is; it turns out he and his apprentice were doing the same thing we were, but going the other way around the village, with Pat taking notes as directed by Prospero. We overhear them talking; Prospero's educating Pat about how the circle forms a greater seal of Solomon.

It's a "powered circle", a wall that stops magic. Which probably explains why this village is still safe. This particular one is designed to contain and... merge... a presence.

He starts talkin' about greater powers, messengers from the heavens, and spirits from the land. I don't really get it, but it sounds downright ambitious. I guess the fire one came outta this, and Prospero reckons the same.

Any information's good going into this whole mess. We bed down for the night, and wake up to the morning processes of native peoples. The Speaker arrives to collect us, and walks us to the resting place of the Great Spirit. He does the teleportin' thing again to give Braxton a drink, and it turns out he's able to just do that because he's "required" to do so, because Braxton asked.

Caliburn has developed a sudden and violent Irish accent.

The Speaker leads to us the center of the village, which sports a fire that seems to burn on it's own with no fuel. Braxton puts his finger in the fire, and unsurprisin'ly, is burned.

The speaker cuts his hand open, and puts his hand in the fire. It burns it down to a husk near immediately, but he ain't flinchin'. I ask if it's gonna grow back. He reckons it might. I got no words for this.

Surprisingly, the fire seems to cool, and forms a more tangible bein'. Braxton wishes he'd done that *first*. The Speaker's eyes roll back into his head, and turn to fire. We're alarmed, but he says it's simply the price for Speaking.

I ask how we can beat the ice giant. We need to find it's home, and seal it, physically or otherwise. I ask where it lives, and a map of the area appears in flame; it points to an area just outside of the village where there is no fire at all.

Caliburn wonders how burnin' the area down would go. The Speaker says not well. Braxton asks for hotter fire, and we get it. He creates a jar of earth and gives it to us. I take it and hold onto it. It's right proper comfortable.

The speaker's crispy hand has regained mobility. Impressive.

When the ice giant has been sealed, the land will return to the natural cycle and the spirit of the land will be able to rest. Time will resume.

The Speaker's eyes unroll, and Caliburn asks for a knife. He gets one made of obsidian, and the Speaker presents us with native american armaments. Made of stone, but quite impressive considerin' they can inscribe Braxton's name into his own steel knife.

I ask for a dozen or so stone chips. I get tiny little balls of stone, which will do the trick just fine. I start whittling away at my bullets to fit the stones.

The Speaker guides us to our destination just outside the valley. As we reach the top of the valley. he shows us where we're headed -- a deep ravine.

We go over the plan: Go in. Kill any intermediaries so they can't give the ice spirit life. Drop a rock on it. Draw a circle. Set fire to it.

Braxton interrupts. "Set fire to it first, *then* draw the circle. That's magic shit." He looks to Prospero. "That's magic shit, right?"

Caribou Bill volunteers to go on a scouting mission; and turns into a bear. Honestly wasn't that surprising at this point. I suspect I'm the only normal person here. Frost accompanies us.

We sneak closer to the ravine. We see about 5 human-looking things guarding the ravine in a clearing that wasn't visible from up the cliff. As I sneak, I wonder if keeping my spurs on was such a good idea.

With Frost suddenly absent, the call is up to me to order the attack. I put the jar of fire down gently to free up my hands, and motion for the attack.

Caribou Bear puts on a massive turn of speed, and shoots forward to maul a sentry. Like, rightly turns him to a slab of dead meat. Almost immediately, another sentry falls over, missing part of his head -- I wonder how Frost got his gun so silent.

I get my dander up, and lay out another sentry with a straight right to the nose; he goes down in a fountain of blood.

The bear lays out another sentry, and the remaining one staggers us with a small earthquake from slamming his staff into the ground.

I give him a good slug, but it just staggers him. Caribou Bear can't even land a hit on him. Then Caliburn comes out of nowhere with a flying dropkick and embeds his feet in the man's chest, killing him outright.

Someone who looks like Caribou Bill shows up, and sheepishly turns back into Braxton -- somehow, I'm not surprised by this transformation. He asks if we left anyone alive, and I show him the sentry I laid out.

He picks him up, and slaps him around a little to wake him up.

"Wakey, wakey, eggs and bacey," he says.

Braxton grabs the sentry, and stares into his eyes. Prospero looks alarmed, and Braxton begins to laugh. The sentry suddenly snaps his bonds as he grabs Braxton by his neck. Braxton seems revitalized now, but it's no match for this sudden turn of speed and strength by the sentry.

I whip out my gun and put a round into his shoulder; it blows a chunk out of his shoulder, but he doesn't stop. And he doesn't bleed.

The sentry begins to drag Braxton towards the ravine. Braxton resists, and his hands turn to vicious claws. They sink into the sentry's forearms, but only a little; Braxton can't do much more than break the skin.

Caliburn decides if we can't break the sentry's hold on Braxton, we might as well break the sentry's hold on the ground and lift him up.

Caribou Bear lunges in, and bites his spine clean in two; the was-sentry goes limp, and Braxton is freed. Braxton tells us what he experienced; a dark and terrible power. That sentry was no longer human.

Suddenly, the body starts to pull itself back together with inky black fluid. Caliburn has an idea, and places his knife in the corpse's chest. It does nothing, so he begins to stab wildly.

"The fire, the fire!" I run to recover the pot of fire from where I left it. Caliburn rips the head off the corpse, and with Caribou Bear's help, drops it in a small hole. Braxton draws a circle around it and seals it with blood by stabbing his hand. The head stops thrashing around, and begins to leak black fluid.

I return with the pot of fire, a little late to the situation.

After we're done sealing the corpses, we hatch a plan; Braxton disguises himself as a dead cultist. Caliburn and I grab spare robes. Caribou Bear turns back into Caribou Bill and puts on the last, bloodied set of robes, and leaving the wizards to finish the containment circle, we head on into the crevasse.

We have the feeling of being watched. Perhaps it the spurs and my hat. The crevasse appears to be deeper than we thought. "This crevasse is deeper than we thought," Braxton remarks.

Caliburn announces our presence, boldly and clearly. He gets no response, but the air feels cold. Braxton draws a circle around himself, and complains it doesn't work -- damn fool, it's gotta be blooded to be effective.

He calls back up to the rim to ask why magic is cold. Apparently it's just Braxton's interpretation of the energy. That is, it's only cold if he reckons it is. I yeehaw and fire my gun twice before reloading.

A stiff breeze pushes past us. Only Braxton seems to not feel it. Caliburn removes his robe and seems to feel it more, so he puts it back on.

We hear a sound and more ice men appear, charging straight for us; Caliburn shouts a warning, and thanks to that, Caribou Bill and I can get out of the way of the two that come for us.

Caliburn smashes my attacker with one chop of his hand; I put a bullet in the head of the ice giant attacking Bill, but it doesn't go down. It mauls Bill, and Caliburn finishes it off with a headbutt.

Meanwhile, Braxton has started approaching a larger ice sculpture. It was just a head, but suddenly begins to move, and we find a much larger ice man emerging from where he's been half-buried.

It's not like the others. It has an endoskeleton made of darkness... the king of Skeletons.

Caliburn engages it immediately; Bill joins in, and between the two, it is weakened. Caliburn staggers it, and I throw the pot of fire over the top of it, and shoot it; the fire doesn't just fall out, but it falls down and sticks to the skeleton, burning away at it.

The skeleton suddenly turns bright white, and turning to face me, walks forward and passes into me. I feel a change -- I used to be the most normal in the group. Now I'm something else. A voice whispers to me: Envoy of the First Flame.

We've killed the summoners, and slain the aspect -- all that remains is to collapse the ravine. Nobody bought any dynamite, but one of the wizards did have an earthquake stick. Before Braxton can use it, Caliburn wants to explore the tunnel. He doesn't get very far, though. Braxton gets further, but still blacks out at a corner in the tunnel. I look and see something terrible; I don't want to go any further, and I grab Braxton and drag him back out.

Outside the ravine, we prepare to seal it off. As they prepare to collapse the ravine, we notice it's not half as cold anymore; it's like summer out here now.

Braxton finally gets to hit the ground with his stick. To everyone's surprise, it actually does something, and shatters the rocks beneath. He becomes insufferable.

The actual wizards collapse the ravine, and it is now fully summer time. Heat begins to warm us, although it doesn't affect me anymore.

We return to the valley -- the village is now gone; scattered through time, if the Guardian was right. Mission complete.

As we begin to walk back, Frost begins to transform; he morphs, and turns into someone who looks like Phobos. Gray, as Braxton identifies him distastefully. Gray has a job for him. A job with a group for the formerly powerful and their offspring.

Braxton accepts, and tells him to find them in Washington DC before vanishing suddenly. Prospero is a bit spooked, but still up to finish the job; he takes us through the Ways back home. The block of ice we saw on the way in is gone now.

Caliburn, who took the head of one of the ice men, and finds it is not melting, puts it to use in a coolbox. He eventually dies of mystery frozen gut syndrome.

Caribou Bill went back home to Canada, and bought out the forest he was trying to preserve; with the money he was paid, and the support of a mysterious lobby group.

Braxton vanished for a while. I never looked at snarky assholes the same way twice after that.

And me? With new power in my hand, for once in my life, I have questions, and a taste of the world that holds the answers.