The air hung still as it always did in the vaults, each corridor and shaft breathing centuries of recirculated and recycled air that had been breathed before by thousands of different lungs, and yet still remained. Each new breather brought with it a new tang to the air, a mixture of the person left far beyond their mortal remains limited life span and hanging invisible to the naked eye but still contained the merest essence of a name long past. Each wisp of air shared between a people outlived each life and yet was added to it, each single act becoming part of one enduring whole, part of the same unbroken line that now passed through their lungs, an enduring strength of character that could be said to say the same about the clans both great and small within the holds. History like that mattered to those that studied the old ways during their ascension days, when youngling became clan and the path of the rite or the clarion call of the indentured rang in their ears and they stood before their elders and betters, joining their clan for life, and right now that sort of history was continuing on fair below their feet and the metal grills of the walkways as two figures stood quietly in the shadows of an air duct, out of sight from anyone else as the cool breeze masked their own. The first was a lanky youth no more than 17 years old, close cut brown hair revealing a myriad of inter woven tattoos covering the side of his head surrounding a singular marking shared by his compatriot, covering their left eye on an otherwise clean but stern face. The second was an older female, whip chord like muscles for arms covered by sturdy blackened armour covered with carved rune work that had been carefully cut into the metal plates and then dulled with a cloth. Both were rites in different stages of their life’s, one new and learning whilst the other took her steps to spread what she knew to the new blood that followed in her wake. They both remained completely silent as they pervaded the scene below them as various different clans jostled with one another as they passed through a slang market , sparks from sharpening wheels skittering out as the smells of cooking food, chatter of vendors and reek of rye alcohol wafted up towards them. For anyone else it would be just another normal day in the vaults for any other clan of the cellborn but for these two; scouts of the shadow clan, they had a job too do and they had already located who they were after. Just off to one side a small gang of clansmen stood by a side street, seemingly just chatting to one another as time past but to the two shadow scouts they were clearly waiting for someone. After a few minutes the group was joined by a figure bearing a new crest, a silver wolf by the glint of the mark on their shoulder, before following off through the crowds and through the market proper before beginning to make their way towards one of the side tunnels that housed some of the lesser used under hang bars. The two shadows followed after them, slipping by various over hanging ducts and cable bridges dangling in the shadowed spaces and set themselves up once more in a covered nest made from cargo netting, cabling and wiring, the silver wolf and assembled clansmen looking behind them before ducking into a open topped court yard bar in what had once been a exercise yard of some sort long ago. A few curt words had the very few other cellborn finishing their drinks and leaving before the bar keep slid the entrance shutter closed and disappeared off himself. For a while nothing past but the sounds of the market and some muttering between the clansmen, whilst the silver wolf sat at one of the rusted tables, a small piece of metal being played back and forth between his fingers in a nervous tick. The two shadow clan kept their gaze on him for the most part, the younger of the two being tested by the elder with hand signals, the women making the sign for ‘assess’ and watching the new blood as he ran through the motions of checking off each individual, signing back their weapons and effectiveness before listing their hierarchy and primary targets to be eliminated first in a fight. For an experienced shadow it would take 5 minutes to do this, for the new blood it took 20 just getting the initial basics right but this was why the thane had ordered such strict training, the shadows intelligence and ability to get anywhere and at anyone was what gave them their prestige and strength amongst the clans and she would not see that tarnished in her life time. A small sound caught the elder scouts attention as the silver wolf got up suddenly, the other clansmen drawing blades as a side door slid open to reveal nothing and just as quickly slid closed once more. Something seemed to be vindicated to the silver wolf as he motioned the others to lower their weapons as 5 individuals flickered into vision as a set of heat blemishes appeared in the air and were replaced with bodies, 4 heavily geared up with military grade equipment and carrying heavy weapons whilst the 5th appeared to be a women, two nasty looking side arms holstered to either leg whilst the rest of her was covered in less military gear than her escort beneath the blackened patched leather coat from what the two shadows could see. The silver wolf made his way forward and cocked his head to one side as he looked the women up and down, him being a good foot taller and almost twice her width, he began to laugh as he said something. Evidently it seemed funny to the other clansmen as they joined in until the women wasn’t standing where she had been and the sound of something metal impacting meat reverberated up through the air, the silver wolf doubling over and sucking air hard as the women stepped back, flexing the knuckles on one fist as her 4 escorts suddenly had the entire courtyard covered with a motion that the shadows had only seen in the arbiter breed before. A sound echoed through the tension as the Silver wolf began to laugh and stood up, spitting flem onto the floor before bowing to the smaller women and offering an open palm, after a moment the women’s face was split by the hint of what could have been a smirk, the 4 escorting soldiers lowering their weapons and looking to the one flanking the women’s right; an officer of some sort, a heavily tooled automatic of some sort sitting in his hands like an extra limb by the way he stood at rest with it. The figure nodded as the women sat down at the rusted table and motioned for the silver wolf to take a seat, seemingly now in complete control of the situation as the other clansmen looked on at the strangers in their midst, the clear point of this having been all arranged jumping across their features as the silver wolf held up an hand to forestall them from moving. The two couldn’t have been more opposite in style and appearance but within a few minutes they were chatting like old friends it seemed , the women’s escort standing silent, their weapons trained on the only entrances to the courtyard for the slightest hint of movement they hadn’t authorised. After 30 minutes or so the women stood up and motioned for one of the soldiers to come over, producing a slate as they did so, passing it to the women before she placing it on the table and turning it around to face the silver wolf. The younger shadow raised an eyebrow at the elder who signed to stay calm as she focussed on the slate, the silver wolf picked it up and scanned through it; nodding occasionally and asking a question before motioning over one of the clansmen carrying a large bag and handing it to the women’s escort, who heft it over one shoulder with little problem. At this the women turned and walked over to the lead of her escort who put one hand to a radio and murmured something that the wind barely caught, the silver wolf looking on from his seat. With a single gesture from the lead escort the band of 5 turned to the clansmen and silver wolf, and with a crackle seemingly disintegrated into the thin air, the women signing a fair well as they disappeared. The two shadow scouts looked at one another in silence as the small neuro tablet the elder carried with her jangled softly in its insulated pocket on the side of her leg, she pulled it out and stared at the single line of text floating on it above a small emblem of a phoenix, “I see you”...
Military Campaign Progress Edit
Humanity has always been driven by a singular sense, since its earliest days it has pulled at the core of human kind to always go that single step further, to see beyond what they know and to find what else there is to see. Often this calling that pushes them onwards would be stretched and twisted by their experiences, lost amongst a sea of distractions and tragedies, and yet it would still be present as it directs them through life in search of meaning to this urge, that they can not yet grasp but their eyes strain to see. This drive pushed the first humans out of their caves to see the next valley beyond, to expand and grow further and further on, driving forwards in a wave of determination to find purpose to their lives and so give birth to new purpose for the next generation to come. This singular sense of self pushed humanity to its greatest and worst parts of its history and gave new meaning each time it was reached, further giving way to yet new goals and ideals as those early people took to heart the lessons their forefathers had learnt. It would eventually carry them to the stars themselves, breaking laws the universe set to find that they had been but a test to see how far humanity had come and to lift the veil to show them just how far they could go if they had but the inner strength to believe in their conviction at heart. For the clans of the cellborn conviction of the heart is something that is grasped so tight to the core of every being that it transcends boundaries between clan and kin, creating a true bound of brotherhood that should never be underestimated. It gives purpose to each and every action they carry out in their lives and births the strength that burnt bright in the dark days before the arms of the cellborn could hold back the darkness to shelter the ember of light left that would grow to what they are today.
For the Iron blades this drive shows itself in their boundless enthusiasm for anything martial in every day life, from simple contests of strength against their fellows to full on bar brawls featuring dozens of individually fighting clansmen and clanswomen from every clan. Usually these fights are followed by a ring of shrewd rites spotting a chance to run the usual rackets of betting rings as crowds grow and the roaring din of cheers and war cries fills the air until one bloodied and near psychotic indentured is left standing the in the carnage of unconscious bodies, those on the ground bearing injuries laughing and chucking calls of amusement to their clan as the ‘victor’ of the impromptu brawl screams their name to the winds before promptly being knocked out by their thane for costing them the repair bill for the trashed bar. As such wherever the army makes camp is a lively affair, resembling a collection of enclaves each with their own positioning with the bars and armourers dens clustered at the centre of the camp with a large ring set up at the very centre point for every clan to come and hold whatever fights they wish whilst the army rests, the Hersekal seated on a pallet of ammunition cans and whatever else they fancy overlooking the ring and crowds, acting as judge for every bout should their be a need, otherwise using their position to get a better view of the fight.
Accordingly when the time comes to move on there is a lot of the usual moaning and griping but soon the excitement of the hunt catches in every cellborn and the army slips into the frenzied routine once more as they strip down the camp and begin to make their way towards wherever their hersekal or the council points, a sea of banners and the sound of war horns ringing as they move. This time however as the army breaks camp something is different and every Thaig and their troops know it, the banner of the council sits at the head of the cellborn as usual but this time in place of the pole of the first blades leading the army a new banner sits a top the standard. During the latest expedition to the green holds a hersekal has finally arisen from the clans to take the iron blade and wield them in war, chosen from amongst those of clan earl who bore the message of treachery the adjudicators have given their assent of the election as have the council. The difference takes a number of days to slip through the entire force but by the end of the first week out from their latest conquest the air itself tastes differences as the indentured of the army begin to feel the taste of blood in their mouths, chasing the scent like war hounds pulling at their chains to be unleashed and finding the chain being unfurled in response. As the next couple of weeks pass the army finds itself moving southwards as the hersekal directs them towards a new claim be it for conquest or war the army does not care as the sense of readying themselves for something catches in every cohort of clansmen and women, war songs skipping up and down the army as each force responds in their own way to the baying cries of war that bring smiles to their faces. The first month draws to close as the iron blade passes by their first conquest out from the holds, a new thrall hold having begun to take shape in their absence led by a clan called the ‘Rus’, making its home amongst a series of squat storage barns with an underground chop shop starting to take shape from the various rites moving about the place. The army camps for a few days in front of the gate to the new hold as the Thaigs make their cases to the Hersekal for objectives and claims before the talk turns to more earnest business, the rest of the iron blade making good the short stop to visit the new holds bars and reduce one of splinters as the biggest indentured from the Rus is found and promptly smacked in the face by a berserker from the first blades at the first chance. The ensuing brawl spreads out until the armies accompanying adjudicators alongside one from a small band of outriders step in as the amusement subsides and the necessary reparations are paid before the offenders are packed back off to their clans with a warning and a smirk from the Adjudicators.
The dawn of the second month sees the army pushing onward once more as they pass through long abandoned tunnels and along long silent roads, the occasional piece of gear or kit being found quickly trading hands multiple times as credits flit back and forth amongst the various clans. The end of the second week brings them into sight of the entrance way to the new conquest, but this time something is vastly different as the lead adjudicator requests a meeting with the Hersekal after two of his lead scouts return bearing news about the initial layout of the territory. The thaigs listen intently before raising an eyebrow at one detail that catches all their attention, the territory would seem to have been heavily militarised at some point in the far past, possibly well before the fall by the looks of it. Beyond the entrance way at the centre of the lands from what the scouts could make out a large squat fortress of some kind sits, no fire lights or watch embers visible in the half light but a very old marking could be made out, the crest of the Hive-sec. This raises voices quickly amongst the thaigs before the Hersekal silences them, leaning back in his seat as the adjudicators continue their reports, it would require an advance party to verify but the lack of visible signs of movement or habitation may mean the Hive-sec outpost is long silent and empty, the main issue that bites is the recent degree of honour the Hive-sec have shown the cellborn in the Green holds as the lead adjudicator is not happy at the idea of insulting honour bound blood. The hersekal remains silent for a few moments before looking over at the adjudicators and the thaigs of the army, this may be old ground to the Hive-sec but it does not belie the fact that strength demands they check the fort out for anything that may be put to use strengthening the cellborn as a whole. At this the adjudicators faces are grave but they leave the thaigs to organise which cohort shall have the task of scouting the fort in full.
The advance into the territory proper takes a full week as the army spreads out into a great wave rolling forwards in search of anything of note, the indentured amongst the clans present laughing and jostling with one another as they dream up what could possibly be held within the hold of the warrior kind, whilst their opposites amongst the rites concern themselves with the likelihood of old traps and defences they might have to splice their way through. Those amongst the younger of the army find the prospect of testing themselves against even the ghosts of the hive-sec here something to relish as the war stories of old fill their heads whilst the older amongst the army take a more pragmatic approach as those that had faced the Hive-sec in open battle before settle into the mind-set of figuring out the losses that may be yet to come. As the third week rolls in the army dispatches the advance party made up of a small group of rites with a body guard of indentured and a single adjudicator to check the old outpost for a way in and any information as to what it might contain whilst the rest of the army heads out to secure the growing number of ancient military installations littering their path through the territory. What the party finds vindicates the older clans men and adds a pinch of pragmatism and caution to the more impetuous of the younger bloods within the army.
The party makes good time ahead the slower moving bulk of the army and had the entrance way into the fort, the squat buildings actually sitting at the base of two larger block like fortifications that stand silent amongst the cold air. Dispatching a handful of scouts the advance party finds the gates sat open into the main compound that serves as an way in similar to that of the bulwark of the homelands. The initial buildings are empty beyond the odd sign of old fires from some scavenger and a series of scorch marks blistering the walls in places on each side of the large open path ways, metal blisters sitting a top towers on both sides at intervals marking the way. A couple of the rites argue over their purpose before the squabbling is silenced by one of the indentured at the fore as he turns around snarling at them to be silent as they passed through a great metal arch. His words are split between sentence and an electrified scream as the smell of ozone fills the air, the air itself seeming to momentarily flicker and peel as a series of dimples in the archway open and ignite, the indentured being caught in the beams and falling apart on either side of them as two halves of meat where an warrior of the cellborn once stood hit the ground. Around them a series of claxons begin to activate as the nearest two blisters split to reveal squat ugly twin barrelled turrets sat underneath their armoured housing, the adjudicator bellows at the party who dive for cover forward as the cutting beams disengage, the sound of creaking shutters rolling back as yet more blisters reveal defence installations that begin to cycle and come online. The only cover available lies ahead a further 50 metres at the open shutter of an underway, half do not make it as the turrets light up the old kill box with heavy saturation fire. Only coming to a halt when the sound of fire and the wet impact of weapons fire hitting meat has ceased the party of cellborn look to one another, the earlier cockiness gone from their eyes as they in turn look at the adjudicator who shakes his head. They cautiously make their way through the underway they have found themselves in looking for an entrance and after a few hours they locate what they have been looking for as one of the remaining rites manages to access an old security post and ascertain something about the place they find themselves in. It takes them another 3 days of searching to locate a safe way of the outpost before they manage to return to the army, their numbers cut down by 2/3rds to the ancient systems of the outpost. The Adjudicator reports to their leader before informing the hersekal of the situation, the territory itself used to be a defence station for the area and served as a base of an original battalion of rapid response forces somewhat akin to a more martial form of the CellBorn's own outriders, and has been silent for quite some time according to what systems they could access. They were not the first to fall afoul of what automated systems remained online as they discovered more bodies scattered through out the outpost of those that had trod there before them as the days had passed. Any way to access the armouries or storage warehouses had steadfastly remained sealed to them unless an concentrated effort could be made to break through them to the storages bins and crates beyond, one Thaig raises the question of asking the Hive-sec themselves for the right to the contents as the land is far from them and of little value via a dual of claim as would happen between two rival clans. The others each propose their own ideas as the hersekal sits listening to their schemes before raising a hand in silence as the adjudicators make their voices heard, in short they wish to inform the high adjudicator of the situation and request the council to put it to the clans as any prize must be claimed by right of blood should the Hive-sec affirm their claim to these silent former lands of theirs. Either way the army finds itself camped in the shadow of the towering outpost as the month comes to an end and the third dawns with barely a whisper.
Whilst the situation with the forts draws some attention from the clan thanes and those involved the rest of the army had busied itself with exploring their new surroundings with a further. As the first week passed various large barns crossed with old barracks and concentric rings of defensive walls are found to form a series of different barricades and easily hold able positions amongst the quiet of the ruins. Each compound is found to provide a view to the next and so on to form a solid defence where each position were it properly manned and maintained could defend one another from anything approaching their position. This series of revelations continues as the days pass with each adding onto the previous until the rites of every clan within the Iron blade find a mountain of information to work through that sparks a series of ongoing contests between the various clans to see who can unearth the next trinket or gem from the waste. For the large part the majority of this information is useless but a few pieces find themselves presented to the Thaigs and hersekal as the month begins to end, deep within the under ways of one compound the site of an old battle is found between two forces, one made up of scavengers and mercs whilst the other side left nothing beyond the scorch marks of their weapons to mark their presence. What ever the scavengers and mercs were defending was clearly long gone as the blown door way behind them stood moot testament to the charges used to destroy it, the only indicator of what it may have been lay in a partially recovered file relating to something called ‘sentinel’ what ever that may have been…
The Iron blades have secured a Secondus class military territory with an old Hive-sec outpost sat at the centre of the territory, it is clear the position was a dedicated military base at some point as the stores for ammunition and weapons is evident alongside the housing for troops and defensive positions. The still active automated defences proves a thorny point but the council or Hive-sec themselves may be able to assist if the Cellborn can find a way.
A Drawn Blade Edit
With the recent declaration of war amongst the cellborn the culture has turned its attentions upon those that would stand in their way, as such each clan has begun to make ready for the war to come and the tension has begun to climb at the prospect of the first great raids to be made in generations. Alongside this the growing interest in the battles against the separatists has been ever increasing amongst the council as information flits back and forth on the happenings in the green holds. With each passing day different clans test their mettle in tournaments and fights watched over by the adjudicators whilst the council clans make their own preparations. In this two things catch at the minds of the thanes across every clan as the baying is filled with cries and roars from every clan possible for the chains to be let loose for the clans to show those that would disrespect the clans of the cellborn the price of treachery. In the first the council discusses the next move to be made as the clans present in the green holds report the annihilation of another band of traitors to their brothers amongst the black market, the location of a potential base of operation having been produced from one taken prisoner and the information extracted by two of their strange hunting partners in all this. On that the council dispatch the shadow clans to learn what they can and have the information sent to the clans in the green holds should it be needed in the long term as for the short term it appears that whoever these new hunters are they share a common passion for dealing with traitors or those that disrespect their betters. On the second matter outriders dispatched from the Iron blade offered a situation that could prove interesting and lethal all at the same time for the clans of the cellborn, the most resent conquest of the Iron blades had secured a vast military position for the cellborn at the cost of a few lives amongst the army that would be easily replaced thanks to the inflow of food now making its way into the cellborn from the green holds. The main issue of the old Hive-sec outpost at the centre of the territory sitting like a silent spectre and how best to deal with it offers 3 potential routes the council puts to the clans, the first would be to simple storm the position at the high cost in lives as the Hive-sec were famed for the amount of damage they could inflict for every foot towards positions in their possession. The second would be to propose a rite of blood to decide the owner to honourable claim the outpost from the Hive-sec in return for recent owner shown the cellborn by those Hive-sec marching through the green holds, the final choice would be to allow the Hive-sec to march to the land, shut the position down and leave with what they claim as theirs before handing the outpost over to cellborn claims. Each choice has their own merits and just as many backers amongst the clans, but the council silence the baying at the behest of the high adjudicator as she signals that each choice will be conveyed to those who are required to vote on what shall be done as the cellborn have always done.
1) A vote is to be made on the situation of the old hive-sec outpost in the recently conquered lands, an adjudicator will be present to ascertain the votes of those clans present amongst the green holds. All Cellborn present must vote on this matter, this will be completed during the Friday evening.
2) A small force of shadow clan from the council are expected to arrive in camp during the course of the Saturday with information relating to the mysterious hunters that have been working alongside the cellborn to deal with the black market separatists.