Thanks! I think our crew was being a little xenophobic at the time, also a little guilty considering they attacked another Stryxis vessel in a previous game session. We dug into our backstory, the GM filled it out some more, and ta-da... space scavengers!
You're right though, no one in the group thought about that. There's also no guarantee that the Ex Umbra won't simply betray us...
Anyway, here is the latest chronicle!
Repairs to the Illustrious were completed with the Ex Umbra's crew's help. They provided the skeleton crew to take the heavily damaged vessel away, with repairs to its Gellar Field requiring scavenging the Blessed Enterprise's emergency field generators.
Luckily, my crew have yet to notice this as the repairs allowed for rampant--I'm not even going to gloss over this--looting of the corpse ship. By my order, any xenotech items 'discovered' were to be brought to the attentions of their commanding officer, and in turn the Magos or Enginseer in their sections. In return, they would be well compensated in throne gelt and other privileges.
It went well enough, with the usual assortment of xenos weaponry to be found in the ship's various vaults. Only seventeen crew had to be executed for trying to smuggle the weapons on board--the fools. If they had simply surrendered the weapons they would have earned a year's pay each, plus some other advancement opportunities. Almost right after this, several more xenos weapons were turned over and while some were already on board the Blessed Enterprise I have decided that they are to be treated much in the same way as those that simply came forward.
Of special concern was the Illustrious's Navigator. House Remelik is ancient and decrepit but still has influence, I'm told. A scion was on board, claiming to have been forced into working for the Naro dynasty despite his richly appointed quarters and harem. His survival complicates matters--if he was in league with the Naro then it won't take much to point them at us. If he was coerced then he could reward us well.
This Thandrik has already shared some secret warp routes with our own Navigator. She has corroborated some of the routes already with her own House's maps though others appear to be hidden routes traversed by the Naro slavers. It could very well be a trap, and it will require the Navis Nobilite's involvement sooner or later.
Favourable omens and a swift passage took us to nearby Naduesh in record time. Our Navigator has proclaimed that she has found a new, safer and faster route between Vaporious and Naduesh, though only time will verify her claims. She seems certain, however, and has charted the course through certain calm pools of nearby systems and used the 'gravimetric' pull of nearby warp phenomenon as a way to accelerate our passage. She is certain this is beneficial, though I don't foresee much trade opportunities between Vaporious and Naduesh besides the supplying the former with the latter's resources.
Several vessels were in the system already, some taking on supplies in orbit above the perfectly situated world. Others were anchored on nearby planets, keeping to themselves. I was content to keep our distance and head for the world proper as we decelerated, but our Master of Etherics raised an alarm over several bursts of vox communications.
Luckily, Explorator Binar was on the bridge at the time and was able to aid in deciphering the signals quickly.
Naduesh, in many ways, offers the perfect place to expand into the Heathen Stars. An easily navigable system with an easily defensible world with plenty of fresh water and food... it was the perfect place to set up a colony. I had often wondered how it was not already claimed, and only recently discovered that it had been. Several times, in fact.
The earliest had been established more than a few hundred years ago and had situated themselves in a portion of an abandoned hive city bordering a fresh water source. The locals did not wander too closely to the city, any of the cities, so the colonists used freshwater ships to conduct some limited trade across the vast lake.
A re-supply ship arrived months later to find no trace of the colonists. All their belongings were left in their homes with no signs of any battle or conflict. Further investigations by that ship indicated that the locals they were trading with regularly had been waiting on the lakeshore for the colonists to return. A month-long search was conducted and no trace of them was ever found.
This is repeated nearly a dozen times throughout the years. It seems my thoughts on colonizing Naduesh were not that original, yet it's curious that it doesn't have the same dark reputation as other worlds that have swallowed up millions of colonists in the Expanse.
The vox-burst was received by the Blessed Enterprise only because of its own ancient augur and auspex arrays. It included coordinates and a text message in garbled High Gothic that simply read "We are trapped."
SANDS OF NADUESH
I, however, did not come to unravel some ancient mysteries but to secure supplies firstly for my ship and then the starving wretches on Vaporious. The Fair Trade is due to arrive within a few weeks, charting its own course directly from Damaris to Naduesh and will bring with it replacement crew as well as trade goods for the primitive Nadueshi.
The Fair Trade should also bring low-grade ores that Damarans have no use for. The Nadueshi, however, can make jewelry or simple weaponry from them and is something they cannot acquire without entering the hive cities.
Our Astropath noted that all the failed colonies we knew of all had situated themselves within the comforting shadows of the hives. Perhaps a trade station out in the wastes, near some fresh water, would allow for some semblance of permanency. Already the shifting sands have covered up our own tracks and despite the ready alert of several attack craft squadrons overhead I feel a strange hostility in its manicured environs.
Aerial surveys have identified a potential site for our use. The locals we have contacted have also indicated that several tribes pass through the region, some camping on the site as well from time to time. We will make use of this place and allow any visiting tribes to shelter from the sun and sand for free, as long as they enter under truce.
Explorator Binar seemed eager to delve into the secrets of Naduesh's hive cities and we were eventually convinced to set out. The Mechanicus delegation was also eager and agreed to provide Desert-modified Combat Servitors for our new trade site's security. I'm thankful for that--the less firepower the Mechanicus has on board the Blessed Enterprise, the better. And of course, the site needed security.
Our first target to survey was a massive tower, built on a kilometre-long square. We gained entry to find ourselves in a gun deck. My senior staff commented that it looked like the inner workings of the Blessed Enterprise and I resisted the urge to correct them. Our Dictator class cruiser used las-batteries in broadside arrangements--it had none of the gantries to load macrocannon or motivators to raise and train the guns themselves. But I understood their meaning.
I had served aboard the Prince Alfour, an ancient Oberon class battleship in my younger days. Its gun decks were very much like this, though of course, the Prince Al's were filled with guncrew not massive machines. Even the more experienced among my crew neglected to see one detail--there were no railings. No stairs. No guiding chains, let alone any spokes to turn the weapons sitting far above us. Men were not meant to man these guns. It took my staff a while to understand that implication.
A service lift did exist and with our Explorator's numbed silence we took it to the top level. I had expected the actual command and control section to be far off site, which a Magos agreed with in between bursts of unintelligble chatter amongst their kind. But there was an on-site control room dangerously close to the guns themselves.
The weapons themselves were massive macrocannon, without a doubt. One massive shell was already pre-loaded into each of the two portals while the cannon itself seemed only waiting for orders to fire, though we could not discern any telltales to indicate a charge.
Our sharp-eyed flight marshal found disturbances... in the dust. It seems the mighty macrocannon had moved, quite recently.
I, rudely, interrupted the Mechanicus delegation that was too busy clicking to each other and demanded they calculate the macrocannon's target. I already knew.
The paired macrocannon had swiveled to track the Blessed Enterprise which had entered a geostationary orbit to provide local aerospace supremacy for the trade hub. There were seventeen other such towers nearby, each housing a pair of macrocannon that belonged on battleships.
It took a few moments, but I made it perfectly clear to the red priests not to touch a single thing that didn't pertain to locating the macrobattery's control centre. The young flight marshal correctly understood my intent and ordered a ready team of armsmen to join us.
That was when our Astropath screamed.
And that was how our saturday session ended. I'm very proud of my crew who didn't even engage in any combat at all this session, but we all found interesting things to do nonetheless.