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For Profit and Plunder - A pc's tale

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Im running a RT campaign for 4 players and one of the pc's has been keeping a log of what happens.

I will post the first session and if enough interest is shown I will continue to post the logs.

The crew consists of....

The Dureen Rogue Trader Dynasty

Current Profit Factor: 49


Name: Rico Dureen
Role: Rogue Trader

Name: Patronius Proscesu
Role: Navigator

Name: Nicandar Hak
Role: Enginseer Prime

Name: Kilgrim Hartek (Squat)
Role: Arch-Militant

Name: Lucius Spence
Rank: Void Master - Gunnery

Furnace of Redemption          Firestorm Class Frigate

The Great Fortune         Wolfpack Class

The Revenge          Wolfpack Class


Prologue: House Dureen; a new Dynasty

++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Tech-Priest Nicander Hak ++



I had been in the service of the Omnissiah for fifteen standard years, and based in the Lathes for almost ten of those, when I was given the opportunity to achieve greatness for myself, the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Omnissiah himself. It started as being my most important duty to date, the refit of a Firestorm Class Frigate that was to be assigned to a new Rogue Trader Dynasty. The Inquisition had procured the ship, and although it had abandoned for years, it was of high quality. Why they were willing to give such a wonderous gift to this new Rogue Trader, the Mechanicus heirarchy were unable to fathom.

The vessel was ancient, and magnificent, and I wanted to give my best for the machine spirit that resided within her, and fortunately was left to do so by both the Rogue Trader, and the Inquisition. Indeed, the only time during the refit that I met the mysterious sponsors was when it came to fit the ship with her weapon systems.

I was in the process of looking for the standard loadout for a Firestorm, a lance weapon and a macrocannon battery when two visitors were shown into the workshop. One introduced himself as Inquisitor Attelus, a name I recognised from the work order specifying the refit, but my attention was immediately drawn to the figure that flanked him. He was introduced simply as Castagir, and he was huge, dwarfing even my heavy lift servitors, I had never met one of his type before, but I knew instantly, even though he was all but hidden by his plain robes, that he could be nothing other than an Astartes, although his rank or Chapter was never disclosed. I discussed the progress of the refit with the Inquisitor, while the Astartes sat back and listened, and it was only when the weapons were discussed did he lean forward.

In a deep, rumbling voice, he asked some suprisingly pertinent questions regarding mass, power drain, and destructive capabilities, before leaning back. I thought that would be it, but after a few minutes, he made two suggestions, which I almost laughed at, before catching myself, after all I did not want to anger him. And then I thought about his suggestions more seriously and realised that they would work. With the space available, and the power from the high quality archeotech plasma drive in the hull, the Firestorm could mount a Pyros melta-cannon turbo-weapon battery in place of the usual macro-cannon battery - a potent upgrade in its own right, but we would be able to replace the lance weapon with a Titan Forge lance battery. I looked at the Astartes in shock, a lance battery on a Frigate! I am sure that I could see a smile from within his cowled head.

"There are Tech-Marines within a Chapter," his voice quite, "I believe that they spend three decades on Mars before returning to the Chapter. Spend time with them, and some of their knowledge, and their respect for the machine spirits passes on. And as a fighting force we do have the reputation to have a greater impact than size or numbers would suggest."

I nodded mutely as they got up to leave. It was at that point that I vowed to the Omnissiah that I would never discount an unusal approach to a problem again, or indeed be afraid of an unusual solution.

The refit was almost completed when Magos Scall summoned me. I was shocked by the offer he made. A Rogue Trader Dynasty needs an Enginseer, and relies on the Adeptus Mechanicus for support, and apparantly the Magos was impressed by my work on the vessel, and by the unusual configuration of the ship. (I did not tell him where that idea had originated). Accordingly he felt that I would be suited to becoming the Enginseer Prime for the new Dynasty and would be assigning me as such. He left me with the thought that a Rogue Trader goes to many unusual places, and the technology uncovered would always be of interest to the Adeptus Mechanicus.

It was only after I left the meeting that I realised that my "unusual approach", which he appeared to praise, may have caused him worry, and he was effectively sending me into a place where I would be of little threat to the mainstream Adeptus Mechanicus methodologies... Still little matter, I found myself excited by the thoughts of the new challenge.

I made a few minor changes to the vessel prior to completion, and as a result was able to fit a well equipped workshop into the space remaining. After all, I reflected, I would need to keep her sailing, and no-one would begrudge me the ability to do so, or realise that this was not exactly standard on such classes of ship.

The vessel was redesignated the "Furnace of Redemption", and with my new staff, and a skeleton Adeptus Mechanicus crew, we made the short journey to Malfi in the Malfian Sub-sector for the cermonial granting of the Rogue Trader's Warrant, the final loading of equipment and supplies, and the embarkation of the crew.

++ End of record ++


++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Rogue Trader Rico Doreen ++


After returning from my infiltration of the Agents of Khoros, with there hired assasin following closely behind, I had hoped for a chance to lie low, to rest and recuperate, at the expense of the good old interrogator of course. With my thoughts in the boudoirs of Malfi and the beds of any lucky noblewomen I could find. I was looking forward to a goodly period of sojourn. Unfortunately this was not too be. Immediately upon my arrival back to Malfi, a genecoded message was delivered to my quarters in my covername.

I got the feeling that this wasn't for an ordinary meeting so hastened to meet with "A". How did he break this identity, how did he even know it existed, worse still how long did he know about it, **** him.

It was with some trepidation I went to the meeting, and lo and behold, when he said where we met he literally meant where we met, an interrogation chamber in the underhive of Malfi. With a shudder I sat in the only chair, trying not to flinch as I remembered the cold adamantine shackles clicking around my wrists and ankles. Seeing my discomfort one of the robed figures removed his hood, chuckling to himself quietly "Just a little reminder my friend of how things may have been". It was Attalus, by which it was safe to assume the other was his pet assasin.

I was a little disturbed, there was something about Attalus demeanour which seemed darker, over recent months he'd seemed more positive, something must've happened to have caused him to relapse to his old way. My thoughts went again back to my first visit here and the information extracted from me and my eventual execution. How I'd prayed for death, for it's final release only to have it snatched away just as the welcoming darkness engulfed me.

Attempting to pull myself together and to put on a show of bravado; "Interrogator, how may I be of assistance to you?"

Again that chuckle, "I am a mere Interrogator no longer my friend, you are behind the times..."

He turned to a scanner on the wall which read his optical and fingerprint. "Greetings Inquisitor Attalus, identity confirmed". Indeed things had changed.

Attalus turned back to me "Now Rico, you had recently come to my mind, I wondered why my good friend Rico had not made his regular reports. He must be very busy, thought I. So, imagine my surprise when I casually came across a familiar name one Jeron Dahlschmidt. My good friend Rico could not be upto his old tricks again could he? Anyway I had need of your attention so summoned you here to remind you of your duty to the Emperor. I'm sure you couldn't have forgotten."

I again felt that strange pressure in my mind, that unwanted link, that link that I believed had been disrupted by Attalus' loss. Is it back, is this something else something more insidious?

I started to talk, but Attalus continued "I have another job for you, one which would be of great interest to you with your shall we say unique skills. I have a need for an operative to infiltrate the Koronus expanse. One I can trust implicitly."

He again chuckled as if at his own private joke, "I have arranged for you to be granted a ship." He consulted a datapad, "The Furnace of Redemption, an appropriate name considering it's new Captain, Captain."

"But, but what ho..." I started to stutter.

"You will be operating under the name Rico Doreen, of the newly granted "Doreen Rogue Trader" dynasty. An old dynasty that has fallen to bad times I believe..." Could it be was he referring to my great grandfathers line? "Anyhow time is awasting your Ceremony of Instigation will take place in two days at the Governors' palace. I will take you now to your command staff."

As we walked away, he kept talking; "I have reasons for needing you to be in the Expanse, I need you to prepare to assist this Sector in a battle for all our souls. We don't know where or when this is coming but trust me it is coming. Your nature will cause you to seek your own power and profit, in fact it is this I am counting on, but when I call in my marker I expect a quick response, you don't want me looking for you. What the Inquisition grants we can just as easily take away..."

Then, almost as if a switch had been flicked, something changed and Attalus’s face lit up again, and, in an almost friendly manner he continued, "Look Rico, this is a great opportunity for you. Yes it's a double edged blade, one that could cost you as much as it gains you but for the right person a Rogue Traders license and ship is the route to fame and fortune. It’s taken a lot of favours and influence to swing this for you, but I'm sure you won’t let me down, and, be assured the "Furnace of Redemption" is no ordinary ship - I've seen her. Can I count on you?"

I had no choice. He was right, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and Attalus knew I knew it, he knew he held all the cards at this time. So I accepted, taking the Inquisitors proffered hand and shook it. At the same time, I couldn’t shake a thought from my mind; who was this Attalus, the friendly Attalus of the last few months, or the darker soul I first met, I couldn't help but shudder at the realization that I had no idea whom I served.

Attalus hurried me to an antechamber where five figures stood. "This will be your command crew. Trust them well for they all posess unique abilities that will be useful to you in this task. Listen to their advice and you may succeed, and make a huge profit for your dynasty."

To the others . "This is Rico Doreen. He will be acting as the Rogue Trader during your sojourn into the expanse. I will leave you know to get to know each other. Please be at the Governors Palace for the ceremony in two days time."

And with that, he turned on his heel and left.

++ End of record ++


++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++


Well, I have met the Rogue Trader. I am not entirely sure what to make of him, the man does appear to have a history, and he appeared to be nervous around the Inquisitor, although that is probably good - it shows he has good survival instincts which will benefit us all in the long run. Anyway, enough of that, back to the pertinent facts.

There was great excitement around the hives of Malfi on the day of the Granting of the Warrant. The hivers and under-hivers, I feel, would use any excuse to throw a party, whilst middle and upper-hivers saw the creation of a new Rogue Trader as an opportunity to create new trading links, to make Thrones, or to gain political influence. All the stories about the intrigue and manoeuvrings of the nobles of Malfi were exemplified here, and I think I prefer the simplistic outlook of the under-hivers.

Having said all that, the parade, and ceremony were very impressive, with the command staff and senior officers in their formal Dureen Dynasty uniforms, and a smartly presented cohort of house infantry marching through the streets. The Warrant was presented by the Sub-Sector Governer himself, and just behind him I saw Inquisitor Attalus, and the Astartes, Castagir, who I must say looked far less comfortable in these surroundings.

Once the official ceremonies had completed, we were free to roam, and many individuals took the opportunity to speak with the Rogue Trader, no doubt angling for some sort of exclusive deal for the supply of goods, or to act as his representative in some capacity or another. I, fortunately was left alone, and took the time to introduce myself to the Senior Adeptus Mechanicus representatives on the planet. Not being entirely politically ignorant, I asked whether there was anything in particular they wanted me to watch for on my pending journeys, however they simply echoed Magos Scalls words, stating that the Mechanicus was interested in the discovery of technology. They wished me the guidance of the Omnissiah, and effectively dismissed me from their presence.

I was about to head back to the ship, when I noticed the Rogue Trader and his abhuman Warmaster (Squat, or Homo Sapiens Rotundus as I am told, is the correct biological designation) in a somewhat uncomfortable discussion with a man in the uniform of an Imperial Guard General. Intrigued I dispatched my servo-skull, Yorrick Gar, to listen in, and fortunately as it later turned out, to record the conversation, both in audio, and video. Effectively the General was attempting to elicit bribes from the Rogue Trader, telling him that he could make our lives very difficult, or very easy should he so wish. It took our diminutive Warmaster great self control to stop himself murdering the General there and then. The Rogue Trader stated flat out that bribes would not be forthcoming, so the General replied that we should expect a ship inspection the following day.

At that, the Warmaster growled low threats of violence at the General, who hurried off, and Rogue Trader Dureen recalled us all to the ship, where we gathered for a command meeting. He described the actions of the General, and we began to formulate a plan to deal with this. I called everyones attention to the holo projector, and instructed Yorrick to play back the recording of the meeting. Whilst they were digesting this I proposed that we contact the General, suggest a quiet meeting, show him the recording and then offer him a deal - we would make him responsible for suppying all our military hardware whilst on Malfi, and he could then take a fee for his services. This, I reasoned, could be couched as a legitimate business deal, and change his focus from working against us, to working for us. This met with approval from those in the room, and I was given the benefit of an evil little grin and a nod of the head from our Warmaster, which I chose to take as a compliment.

Interestingly, while searching through the ships cogitators I came across the Rogue Traders personal records, and "accidently" decrypted them. It is perhaps useful to consider his view of the same events;




+ + + "The ceremony was a pompous affair, extremely formal and very overlong, and during the procedings the Governor made a not so veiled reference to the expected brevity of my tenure as Rogue Trader. The parade afterward was even worse, sycophants and wellwishers crowding the street trying to press the flesh. All the time all I could think of was how the Agents had vowed revenge and this would be the perfect place for an attack.

After the the Parade I noticed a solitary figure striding purposefully to our group. He introduced himself to the Warmaster as Sector General Seth Sinclair and apparently had a business matter he wanted to discuss with myself. It appeared the good old General had a desire to muscle in on my newly created Dynasty, hoping to better his current situation however his attitude grated upon me as he attempted to blackmail me as he became aware of the vast amonts of Thrones being spent by my colleagues to equip the Furnace of Redemption. My nervousness and desire to get off the street must’ve come through in my demeanour as I brusquely brushed the General off, after what I had been through over the recent months no petty bureaucrat was going to blackmail me.

With hindsight this was a bit of a mistake as the General could make life more difficult for us on Malfi. However unbeknownst to myself the Enginseer Nikander had recorded the events and gave us leverage to get him to consider our counter proposal. We proposed the General would be our go-to man for legitimate imperial goods which would obviously make him a lot of profit but in return gave us access to those materials we may not otherwise be able to acquire." + + +


Personally, I like the fact that the Rogue Trader realised his mistake, at least it's less likely to happen again...

The next meet with the General, whose name I discovered was Seth Sinclair was scheduled for that evening, so I retired to my workshop, downloaded a copy of the recording into one of my private cogitators, and worked on setting the parameters of my new combat servitors which I intend on using to defend the workshop, should the need arise. I also deployed units of Tech-Guard which had been assigned to me to defend the Plasma Drives, Warp Engines, and Gellar Field.

Shortly afterwards, the Warmaster contacted me, stating that he had a problem that he would like my help with. Apparantly, members of our crew had been assaulted while loading equipment onto the shuttles in the docks, and he wanted to put a stop to it. We both surmised that this was an element of General Sinclair making life difficult for us, and decided to take a detachment of troops down to the docks the next day in an attempt to catch the culprits.

That evening, the meeting with the General went well. He took one look at the evidence we had, and agreed to our proposals, as long as I deleted the recording, which I did, safe in the knowledge that there was a copy in my workshop. Hoewever, he had no idea who the men assaulting our crew were. As expected, the inspection of the ship the next day passed off without incident.

With all that settled, the Warmaster and I left the rest of the crew making final preparations for the voyage, and headed down to the docks, with his men, to deal with our mysterious attackers. If they were not Guardsmen, it was evident that someone else was upset with our new Dynasty. With a commendable eye for small unit tactics, he set the soldiers into ambush positions, and we settled doen to wait. Less than a standard hour later, a dozen rough looking men appeared and began to cause trouble, so the Warmaster sprang his ambush, and the ruffians were quickly subdued.

I left the questioning to the Warmaster - he was very, very good at it. He asked the self appointed leader who he worked for. The man cursed and spat at him, so the Warmaster shot him in the head with a bolt pistol. He moved to the next man in line and repeated his question.

Apparantly this man was named Sergio Nico, and worked for an underworld boss named Don Mario Fenducci. Don Mario moved around the hives regularly, so was difficult to contact, but Sergio was willing to do everything in his power to find the Don, and contact us when he did. He told us all this without pausing for breath. The Warmaster and I smiled at each other, and marched the men, at gunpoint into our shuttle, taking them with us to the ship, throwing all of them, except Sergio into the brig. Sergio was taken to the Chirurgeon, where a micro-bomb I had created was attached internally to his spine. It was explained to him in graphic detail waht would happen if he did not do as he promised, and then we returned him to the docks and released him. I sent Yorrick after him to shadow his every move, and although the man made a couple of failed half-hearted attempts to shake off my trusty familiar, he was as good as his word, and two days later we had the location of Don Mario.

Not entirely trusting the word of Sergio, we returned him to the brig, and the Warmaster and I returned to the surface of the planet, with a platoon of his best men. We quickly reached our intended destination, a restaurant in one of the more exclusive areas of the hive, and left our men in hiding, listening in on the vox.

As we attempted to enter the restaurant we were stopped on the threshold by a large, heavily muscled man, who demanded to know our business. The Warmaster loudly gave a formal reply, stating his many titles, and introduced me in the same manner - I had now idea how important I am - and requested a meeting with Don Mario. After a brief pause, as messages were passed to and from the rear of the room, we were granted entry, as long as we relinquised our weapons. I handed over my hellgun, but protested that I must retain my Holy Symbol, and they allowed me to do so. I smiled inwardly, Holy Symbol, Omnissian Axe, they are the same thing really...! The Warmaster growled as he handed over his bolt-pistols.

The meeting with Don Mario was successful. He was a likeable, and jovial character, and it appeared that there was nothing that went on in the criminal underworld that he did not have a stake in. He had been given the impression that we were attempting to muscle in on his business, and was reassured that we were in the process of buying weapons, not selling, and that we would soon be heading off world in any case. He nodded, and we made a proposal for him, offering to make him our Malfi distributor of some of the more "interesting" items that we may discover on our travels, and sensing the opportunity for profit here, he readily agreed. He then asked about his men, and we informed him, with regret, that one had died in our initial confrontation, but that the rest were aboard our ship. He described one man in particular, who it transpired was his nephew (thankfully not the one who had spat at the Warmaster), and asked for him to be returned, which of course we agreed to. It was then that the Warmaster asked Don Mario whether he would like for his nephew to gain some off world experience, and offered to train the young man, and guide him through a career. Don Mario smiled broadly, and agreed, telling the Warmaster to make a "Proper man of him!" As for the rest of his men we held, he told us to keep them as crew, or to do with them as we would. We thanked for his time, and left him to his business.

Once again, it is perhaps interesting to take a look at the "accidently" decrypted Rogue Traders personal records, and in relation to these events;




+ + + "The Warmaster and Nikander went to pay the Don a visit, upon arrival at his place of business, the Don did not even appear to recognise the reason for there visit, and claimed that he wasn’t aware of any ambushes on our men. However it turned out that there was an issue that the Don had been mistakenly informed that we were mass selling illegal weaponry, and therefore treading on his trade. However when the Warmaster explained that our desire was to purchase said weaponry the Dons demeanor changed considerably. Even to the point where the Warmaster has a new boot boy, one Antonio, the Dons nephew. Strange how these things work out. I must remember to thank Nikander and the Warmaster for there quick thinking as they have successfully defused a difficult situation and gained us a strong contact in the shall we say seedier side of Malfi.." + + +


It is nice to be appreciated, and I must let the Warmaster know that our efforts have been noted.

After the end of our meeting with the Don, we returned to our ship, and assigned Don Marios men to various posts, their turn in fortunes accepted with remakable equanimity, and then I took Sergio back to the Chirurgeons, and has the micro-bomb removed - to say he looked relieved was an understatement. I then told him that we were going to return him to the surface, on the understanding that he would act as our go-between with Don Mario, and as our fixer whenever we returned to Malfi. As an incentive, I reminded him that we were friends with Don Mario now, which focussed his mind, and then I handed over a few hundred Thrones as his retainer fee, and the man looked overjoyed with his change in status, promising to be there whenever we needed him.

With that business completed, and all our stores and supplied loaded, we were ready to embark on our journey, and the Furnace of Redemption left port, and headed to the outer edges of the system, charting a course for Port Wander and the Koronus Expanse.

++ End of record ++ 



++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++


The Rogue Trader informed me that we would be leaving the vessel to visit the Port Wander Space Station. I had no great desire to visit the station itself, although I felt I should pay homage to the Omnissiah in the Halls of the Mechanicus, so decided that I would accompany the group. The remainder of the command staff had also been selected, and, so as we made the short journey from the docking arm to the port area itself, I was accompanied by Rogue Trader Dureen, his Warmaster and First Officer - the biologically interesting abhuman Kilgrim Hartek along with four of his Armsmen who I assume are good at what they do, the Navigator Patronius Proscesu, who seems to take every opportunity to leave his bubble on the ship (I must speak with Dureen about this, Navigators are hard to find, and it is illogical to risk such a valuable resource this way, although I doubt he'll listen to me, the man can't seem to shake his early, rebellious life...), and the Gunnery Void Master Lucius Spence - a man I'm told is an excellent shot, as befits his position, and frankly needs to be, as I have yet to have a stimulating conversation with the muscle-bound flesh-sack! Most importantly, as always, the Skull Servitor Yorrick Gar, my closest confident, accompanied me. I felt he deserved to feel the presence of the Omnissiah in the Halls too, and anyway, he rarely leaves my side.

The Station itself is reasonably well maintained, however has an air of the frontier about it - all on board seem to be armed in some manner, and it is not the cleanest of places, and neither was the individual that met us in the quaintly named 'Court of the Dead'. He had given his name as Orbest Dray in the vox message he had left for Dureen, claiming he had an important message for the Rogue Trader. In all honesty, even with my standard human senses, I could smell him before I saw him, it seemed as though he hadn't washed in years, had filthy matted hair, and was wearing the ragged remains of ships coveralls, covered with broken trinkets. He was very greatful for us meeting him, and told a story that in his younger days he had served as an officer aboard the Emperor's Testament part of the fleet belonging to a Rogue Trader named Vos Karlorn, and after being caught in a Warp storm, they had discovered an uncharted system. On arrival, their Astropath had picked up a distress call from a lost Imperial vessel, however, it was soon ascertained that this was an old echo from a ship named the Righteous Path. This ship dated from the days of the Angevin Crusade an the creation of the Calixis sector, and legend had it that her Captain had filled the ship with great wealth and treasures, going so far as to strip the vessel to make it all fit - I pitied the machine spirit of such a noble vessel, tortured in such a manner. After the re-discovery, Vos Karlorn felt that he didn't have the resources to exploit his find, so returned to Port Wander to try and raise an expedition to salvage the Righteous Path. Not willing to risk the loss of his hard won knowledge, he left Dray on Port Wander with a map of the location of the treasure ship, and headed out on his recruiting mission, never to return. Dray has been waiting for a century for someone to return to complete the salvage operation, and it appears that our Rogue Trader has a link to his old master. Dureen praised the man for his commendable loyalty, and offered him a place on the crew, which was accepted with an almost ecstatic joy. I just hope the Rogue Trader has the good sense to get him deloused first.

As the story unfolded, I became aware that we were in a crowded public place, and my sense of paranoia that has served me so well over my life caused me to send Yorrick on a high sweep of the area, and with my attention half on his sensorium feeds, I turned back to the meeting in front of me, in time to see Dray hand a small, sealed container to Dureen, which opened at Dureens touch. I surmised this to be a gene-coded stasis casket (correctly as it turned out), and it contained what looked to be smooth black stone. I was about to step forward to take a closer look at the casket, fascinated, as always, by the technology, when a warning chime from Yorrick forced my attention skywards, and I caught sight of a cybernetically enhanced bird swooping from the shadows of the chamber ceiling. I shouted a warning to my companions, however "Beware of the bird" appears to have been too little for their fleshy brains to comprehend, sometimes I wish I had stayed with the Mechanicus fleets, there, at least, the crews understand simple Gothic phrases!

As the bird swooped down and seized the stone, I unslung my Hellgun and tried to draw a bead on the villainous cyber-avian while the slack jawed flesh-bags stood unmoving, however, at this time the rest of the trap was sprung, and a number of armed men stepped from the shadows and opened fire on us, and this seemed significant enough to galvanise the others into action. Fortunately for us, the first salvo of fire seemed to be interdicted by a number of unfortunate bystanders, and our superior skill and training allowed us to quickly turn suprise into offence, and to win the gun battle, forcing the attackers to retreat, the few remaining healthy ones dragging their wounded with them leaving four of their number dead on the deck. The civilians hadn't be so lucky, with nearly twenty dead or severly wounded.

Understandably, I had been distracted during the shoot-out, focussed on killing our assailants, so I missed the avian thief dropping its stolen booty and our Rogue Trader, ably protected by the Warmaster, recovering it. As the others gathered to assess our situation, I walked over to the bodies of the assailents that I had killed, to look for clues as to their identity, or indeed that of their master, however was unable to discern anything of use. I did however notice that one had an almost perfectly shaped skull, and so claimed his body as a spoil of battle. Once again, a warning chime from Yorrick alerted me to some new arrivals, and an Arbites squad arrived, having already scooped up two of our assailants. The Arbites requested our presence at their Precinct, a request that Dureen refused, but did arrange to speak with their commanding officer from the Furnace of Redemption where he told the Sergeant in charge we were heading next. Strangely, Warmaster Hartek seemed more relieved to be clear of the Arbites presence than worried by the attack itself.

Safely back onboard the ship, I headed back to my workshop, to begin the process of creating my new servo skull, putting the unneccessary parts into the protein recycling tanks. Our wounded were delivered to the Chirurgeon for treatment, and Navigator Proscesu worked with the Astropath Choir Master Santoro Golgotha, together they were able to decipher the message on the stone from the stasis casket - it presented an astropathic mind image detailing a stellar location, and although noone aboard was able to identify that location, it gave us a starting point. Rogue Trader Dureen spoke via the vox to the commander of the Arbites, Precept-Marshall Kyra Valkyran, and arranged for himself and the Warmaster to visit here to present our perspective of the ambush. I have been informed by the Tech Priest maintining the vox that the good Warmaster did not look particularly happy with this arrangement, but acquiesced to the request of the Rogue Trader. I must try to find out where Kilgrims aversion to contact with the Arbites stems from...

I gave the two of them a copy of Yorricks recording of the ambush to hand to the Precept-Marshall, and they went to keep the appointment. The Navigator had hit on the idea of tracking down a Master Map Maker on the station to help decipher the stellar location that had been gleaned from the stone, and had been told that the very best was Magnate Scrivener Journ in the Chambers of Gold. He took Void Master Spence, and they too left the ship, heading for the Chambers of Gold. I stayed in my workshop, pleased that I could continue removing the unnecessary parts from my new servo skull.

Apparantly the meeting between the Rogue Trader, Warmaster Hartek, and Precept-Marshall Kyra Valkyran was amicable, for the most part, with our account of the ambush being bourne out by the facts and the circumstantial evidence (and Yorricks recording), however the Precept-Marshall obviously was not enamoured with Rogue Traders generally, largely because they operate outside the normal range of Imperial Law, and with out very solid evidence she is unable to act against them. Unfortunately, although she promised that intervention would be swift should hostilities break out again, my interpretaion of that was this was as much a warning to us not to look for revenge, as it was reassurance. She was also candid enough to reval that our attackers were in the employ of Hadarak Fel, from the vessel the Fel Hand, another Rogue Trader. I have since discovered that the Inquisitor who was the driving force behind the granting of the Dureen Warrant of Trade has an interest in this Rogue Trader himself. Truly, the ways of the Omnissiah are wonderous indeed. As I understand it, the meeting ended on a sour note because of some perceived slight aimed at the Arbites by the Rogue Trader, who, I believe has no great love of the Arbites due to certain experiences in his youth. What was actually said, has not been revealed, and I believe that our Rogue Trader may be regretting his hasty words. Of course he'll never admit that...

Navigator Proscesu and Void Master Spence were successful in their mission (and far more diplomatic), and quickly located Magnate Scrivener Journ in the Chambers of Gold. He readily agreed to help, and quickly identified the location we sought as the Egarian Dominion in Winterscale's Realm. If we agreed to transfer certain texts to a contact of his named Cyrus, on Footfall, he would provide a map for us, and promised that confidentiality in all dealings with us would be kept. After promising that the texts were not heretical in any way, although proscribed by the more puritan elements of the Ecclesiarchy, and after the Navigator had a brief vox conversation with the Rogue Trader, the deal was struck, and Armsmen sent from the ship to carry the boxes of texts back to the vessel. I hope the Rogue Trader has the good sense to keep that part of the bargain a secret from the Ships Confessor, or things could get complicated! Nevertheless, I have seen the charts that Journ created. They are exquisite, and well worth the price paid.

On their return to the vessel, Dureen called the command staff together for a briefing - I am considered part of that, which is useful, at least in keeping abreast of the flow of information, and passed on all that he'd learned from the Arbites. I asked them to wait a while, and briefly excused myself, and after a brief vox conversation with some of the servants of the Omnissiah in the docking arms, learning that the Fel Hand had left Port Wander at speed, shortly after the ambush had taken place. Armed with this new information, Rogue Trader Dureen recalled any crew still ashore, and we set off in persuit, unfortunately, our rival had a 12 hour headstart...


I doubt that there'll be many among you that are unaware of the dangers of travel through the warp at the best of times. It is fair to say that warp travel in the Koronus Expanse rarely fits the "best of times" designation, and to travel into the Expanse through the Koronus Passage, skirting two huge warp storms, is as dangerous a passage as there is, as the dozens of missing ships will testify. It was with knowledge in mind that when we approached the Maw, we chose to wait to avoid a particularly violent warp eddy, unfortunately the crew became unsettled by delay, muttering about missing the chance to make good on collecting the treasure we were chasing. We really should keep a tighter rein on the rumour mill...

The nature of the journey into the Expanse requires a vessel to drop out of the warp and into realspace from time to time, to prevent it being dragged too far off course and being lost for good. Accordingly, we dropped into real-space at the Battleground, near enough the half way point through the Passage. It is an area of space full of dead and stripped ships, twisted wrecks, and debris, and I made my way to the bridge for a better view. The sight of all those dead ships shook me, and I muttered a silent prayer to the Omnissiah, for all the noble machine spirits silenced for good.

The Great Fortune.Suddenly, one of the bridge crew called out that a weak signal from a salvation beacon beacon was being detected in a nearby debris field. On interrogation, the beacon was revealed to be from a pilgrim ship, the Penitent Traveller. As we closed on the stricken vessel, I called out that this would be a perfect place for an ambush, and something had clearly damaged the Penitent Traveller, so we ran a scan of the area, however, this turned up no threat. My sense of paranoia was still nagging me though, and I obviously was not the only one with feelings of unease as the crew were ordered to action stations. Our suspicions were well founded as soon two vessels appeared from behind larger pieces of debris, and we were hailed by a self styled Admiral, Bully Hayes, demanding our surrender. Needless to say this was dismissed in short order, and we prepared for battle.

As we were effectively bracketed by the two pirate vessels, we quickly made the decision to turn towards the ship that appeared to be reacting the most quickly. This was a raider class vessel identified as The Revenge. As we turned in it opened fire with both macrobatteries and laser weapons, and the enemy was lucky, hitting our vessel repeatedly with the hab-sized macro shells, overloading our void shilds and damaging the hull, although fortunately not damaging anything critical. The ships captain, one Grace O'Malley, chose that moment to hail us to gloat, and in common with her fellow raider Captain, demand our surrender. We ignored the ignorant woman. Rogue Trader Dureen wrestled the ship into an advantageous position, and we found ourselves placed to return fire. The void shield crew worked to bleed off the excess power that overloaded the shield, and, repsonding to their drills and training, raised it again. Each of us worked to give Gunnery Void Master Spence the best possible firing solution, and he more than lived up to his reputation with perfectly aimed shots from both our melta-cannon and lance batteries leaving the enemy vessel on fire, listing badly, and trailing atmosphere, shattered hull fragments and the bodies of unfortunate crew caught in the spaces opened to the void. Perhaps I had been somewhat harsh in my initial summary of the man, he does seem to be able to interact with the machine spirits of the great weapon batteries of the Furnace of Redemption with ease. I may have to research his background and see whether his genetic line has had any connection with the Adeptus Mechanicus in the past.

The other pirate, The Great Fortune accelerated towards us to try to rescue her crippled sister ship, catching us with another macrobattery salvo, overloading the void shild again, and causing more damage to the hull, however again, not damaging anything critical. As the damaged ship drifted past us, we were hailed once more; this time a man identified himself as captain of the vessel, explaining that Captain O'Malley no longer lived, and accepted our terms to remove himself from the battle. Once again, Rogue Trader Dureen exhibited excellent piloting skills forcing the ship into a sharp one hundred and eighty degree turn, putting us on course to go head to head with the The Great Fortune which had just fired at us. We exchanged fire with the pirate at extreme range to no real effect on either ship, but, then as we closed we were hit by what I deduced to be an energy mine, leaching power from the plasma drive, reducing its capabilities by nearly two-thirds. I headed down to the drive chambers to attempt to counter this attack, and so missed the end of the battle, but have since reviewed the recordings.

We closed to within teleportarium range, and the Warmaster led the Penal Cohort in a lightning boarding action, disabling the void shield generator and setting fires in vital spaces. This superbly led, critical raid, was sucessfully completed with a loss of just twenty-one soldiers who had earned redmeption in the eyes of the Emperor. As soon as the Warmaster and his men were back on board, the gunnery teams opened fire with everything the had, devastating the enemey, and Bully Hayes quickly hailed us once more, this time to offer his surrender, which we graciously accepted.

Eventually, by the grace of the Omnissiah, I was able to detach the leach mine from the vessel, and we were able to rescue the stranded pilgrims from the Penitent Traveller. We took control of the two raiders, and they are now vessels of the Dureen Rogue Trader Dynasty, their crews and captains throwing their lot in with us, recognising that they have a greater chance of fortune working with us on our Holy journey. We took the damaged ships under tow, and placed a Navigator on each vessel and made the final leg of the trip to Footfall.


I have assessed the status of all three vessels. The two raiders will need months of repair and refit before they can be properly void-worthy again, but they are worth salvaging. Most of their systems have been damaged, but none have been destroyed, their crews have suffered grievously, The Great Fortune losing over 14,000 people or 57% of their complement, with The Revenge losing over 8,000 people or 33% of their complement.

The Furnace of Redemption has suffered 60% hull damage, and will require a week or so of repairs, depending on the skills of the maintenance crews here, however, if pushed, we could continue our journey without delaying to fix the vessel. We have suffered losses of slightly over 5,200 loyal crew, may the Omnissiah watch over them, but we will continue on our quest in rememberance of their glorius sacrifice.

++ End of record ++ 

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++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



Our arrival in the Footfall system, was uneventful, placing us just a week from our destination, so I used the time efficiently, putting work crews to making as many repairs to the damage on all three ships. On a more personal level I, with the grace of the Omnissiah, was able to complete the crafting of an additional servo-skull, based on the ambusher from Port Wander. I recruited the talents of one of my Medicae Tech-Priests, who was efficient, but nervous. Possible because I had threatened to air-lock him should he damage the skull during the fabrication, although he should have known that I had no intention doing so, as such a waste of resources is a sin in the eyes of the Omnissiah, still, he appeared to take my threat seriously. Perhaps that is why he pronounced so dramatically as the skull powered on, "It is done. Henceforth let him be known as Horatio Vir". I just gave him a look - of course that’s what the skull was going to be named, it was the man’s name previously and I tend to keep them as it makes identification easier. I equipped Horatio with an auspex, and ran a few tests to confirm functionality.

On the journey in, we were challenged by the controllers of the station with regard to the exact nature and purpose of our vessels, however the Warmaster quickly and forcefully stated our case, and if not exactly putting their minds at rest, then they certainly stopped aiming weapons at us. The Rogue Trader contacted a number of ship yards to arrange repairs to the damaged vessels, and after some hard negotiations managed to strike a deal that worked well for us - we paid an energy tithe, and offloaded some supplies of fresh grox-meat, which apparently were much sought after. We chose to spend a two standard weeks repairing the hull damage on the Furnace of Redemption, halving the outstanding damage, before having to push on in our search for the Righteous Path, knowing that we needed to make time on our rival, Hadarak Fel. Having previously assessed the damage to our new Raider Class vessels, we arranged for these to stay in dock for repair in our absence. I specified that The Revenge be focussed on initially, as it was least damaged, starting with the systems before repairing the hull.

While I was focussing on this, Rogue Trader Dureen questioned Captains Hayes and Perez with regard to money making possibilities in the Expanse. Although trading was not their forte, Hayes stated that he had heard of a planet in the far off Heathen Stars that had potential for great profit. Closer to our current location, they had heard that there was potential for profit in the Winterscales Realm – after all, it is known as the system of a thousand routes...

The Warmaster, so I hear, has began his retraining Antonio Fenducci, his Cadet Trainee. Apparantly he is in the deconstruction phase. I believe he takes this phrase less literally than I do, but, as the Omnissiah says each have their own way of service.

Footfall is an interesting place; it is a network of connected asteroids, and constructions, centred on a macro-statue of the God-Emperor. It is quite spectacular, and I intend on making a number of detailed recordings of the structures. It is also a centre for most of the Rogue Trader houses, the Inquisition, and many other organisations, on both sides of the law. It is also the home base of Warmaster Hartek, although he did not seem too happy to be back. I still need to find out why, although it increasingly appear that he has spent a large proportion of his life at the wrong end of an Arbites shock-maul.

Happy or not, tied in with an inspirational speech from Rogue Trader Dureen, he managed to recruit willing void-farers to replace our crew losses. He also suggested allowing the crew some shore leave to blow off steam, and clear their heads of the losses from the battle and from all the time in the void. The Rogue Trader had to pay a few thousand Thrones to repair the damage to some of the dockside bars and houses of ill repute, but the time away rejuvenated the crew, and the owners of the damaged establishments were left happy as we overpaid for the damage, so it seems to be an equitable result.

The pilgrims we rescued departed here, ready to stage their journeys further into the Expanse, they left the ship, virtually singing our praises! At the same time, we sent a squad of trusted Armsmen to deliver the texts we were carrying for Magnate Scrivener Journ, discharging our responsibilities in good order.

The Warmaster joined some of the crew, using his time to listen for rumours and pick information from "below decks", looking for profitable opportunities, that may be, and I quote directly here for accuracy, "Outside of the law, and may, or may not be taken up by other Rogue Traders." Such imprecision worries me, particularly from one in his position. However, in this case his approach appeared to work; from a burnt-out explorer he discovered that a heavily forested, and resource heavy, unexplored world named Ashant existed in the Heathen Stars, and after securing the co-ordinates the Warmaster ensured that the erstwhile explorer could not speak to anyone else about this place. I am happy to class this as a merciful release to the embrace of the Omnissiah, as it appears that the man was well on the path to self-destruction. From other sources, he was able to pick up some information regarding a new way-station and trading post, named Blemish, which has appeared in the Galematus System in Winterscale’s Realm. It has formed in a space hulk which has dropped from the warp near the gas-giant in this system. Although it is chaotic, it is a popular haunt for criminals and pirates, and offers endless possibilities. It does seem that imprecision has its own place in the eyes of the Omnissiah, praise be to him.

Rogue Trader Dureen spent his time rubbing shoulders with the upper classes, or what pass for the upper classes here, but bumped into an old rival, Darius Boltshmett, who had been spreading rumours about our fledgling dynasty, and as a result, Dureens efforts were fruitless. If I get my hands on that man, I will have a Boltshmett servo-skull in my retinue – I will not be smeared by such as him, and I do not quickly forget such things.

With both crew and ship rejuvenated, we left Footfall and headed to the warp jump point, to continue to the Magoros System. Too look after the Dynasty’s interests, we left a detachment in system; Mistress Cassandra Salvatore, the Dynasty Seneschal, her staff, a Cohort of the Warmaster’s troops and some of my Tech-Staff to look to establish a base, and continue developing our reputation.

We prepared to jump to Magoros, and entered the empyrean, however, part way through the journey we were forced to into real space by a warp storm, and stayed here for several weeks, until the worst of it had passed before continuing our journey, and eventually arriving safely at our destination. Fortunately, the delays were ameliorated by our troublesome warp engines, and, Omnissiah be praised, this fluctuation worked in our favour, speeding our journey, surely reflecting the righteousness of our quest. (I still need to pinpoint that flutter in the Warp drives, and although so far it has acted in our favour, I need to discover what ails the sacred machine spirit.)


For whatever reason on arriving in the Magoros system, out Navigator Proscesu decided to us out of the Warp as far from the planets as he possible could, and in the tail of a comet. Whether this was accidental, or whether he had some bizarre reasons for doing so in truth I do not know, but whatever the reason I feel that unless he becomes more efficient I will have to keep a close eye on the man, and possibly upgrade him with more efficient systems... Void Master Spence was ordered to fire the main batteries in an attempt to destroy the debris which were battering the ship as we attempted to steer out of the tail, and his rapid action allowed us to escape, damage free. Once everything had settled down, the Navigator calculated we had three weeks travel to reach the planets that were being displayed by our holo-projector.

The Magoros system used to be part of the Egrarian Dominion, and although this empire appears to have fallen, we were cautious, as befits our combined experience, and undertook repeated detailed scans as we sailed in towards the planets. (After all, thanks to the Navigator, we had plenty of time to spare).

At their centre lies a pulsar dubbed the "Flickering Eye". The system is bathed in hard radiation from the star, and after analysing the data I let it be known that I had identified a pattern whereby our senses were blinded by the pulses, which occurred every one-hundred and two standard minutes. After a number of bursts, I was able to announce that each pulse lasted fifty-eight seconds and any living creature caught unshielded on one of these pulses would very quickly, and very painfully be dead. For some reason this seemed to grab everyone’s attention. I also made the point that as we could be effectively blind during these periods, we would be very vulnerable to ambush, although I rather hope that our military minded crew members would have identified this themselves.

Orbiting the pulsar are three distinct planets, Magoros Minor, Magoros Prime, and Magoros Secundus and beyond these, a halo of ice shards and asteroids which circles the system. Once we had cleared the halo, we closed on Magoros Secundus, and initial scans showed it to be an icy jungle moon, covered in frozen vegetation, and surrounded by a toxic, frigid fog. Magoros Prime was detected as dust choked, and covered with ruins. Magoros Minor, closest to the star, as expected was scorched by the power and radiation bursts from the pulsar.

As Secundus was the closest to us, the Warmaster, in his role as First Officer made the executive decision to start our investigations there and work towards the centre of the system. We settled into a high orbit, and actively scanned both the planet and the surrounding void, to ensure there were no nasty suprises. The in-depth scans confirmed our first, more distant scans, however as much of the signal returns were blocked by the atmosphere I suggested a reconnaissance flight below the frigid fog blanketing the planet. The Rogue Trader decided to take his Fury fighter on this mission, and Void Master Spence took the gunnery seat in case of trouble. I, of course, was to provide technical support, to minister to the machine spirit of the fighter, aiding it through the descent to the planet, and the navigator seat was taken by the ships Navigator himself. Once again, we are pointlessly risking a valuable resource... The Warmaster took control of the Furnace of Redemption ready to face any threat.

We dropped from orbit, with the Rogue Trader holding the fighter steady as we broke through the cloud cover, and Void Master Spence, focussed on the sensor suite called out as he detected the long abandoned remains of Xenos structures. This caused me to make some adjustments to my sensors, tuning them to a frequency different to that needed to pick up the signs of human habitation, and as a result I was able to detect a still active power web, drawing energy from the buildings and sending a spike of energy through the clouds and into the void. Intrigued, I reported my findings to the others onboard, and took careful readings and triangulated the direction of the beam so that once back into orbit I would able to trace it.

As we cleared a nearby mountain range we all saw a great scar on the surface of the planet where something huge had smashed into the ground. My immediate thought was that we had just found the Righteous Path, however on following the scar, we found a hulk, the remains of a star ship, which could not be identified. I suggested that we land and attempt to identify the ship, and this course of action was quickly agreed on, so we transmitted our intentions back to the Furnace of Redemption in orbit.

Unfortunately, as we descended we hit a pocket of turbulence which caused the fighter to violently shake, and then its systems began to flick off one by one. The Fury nosed over, and began a rapid descent. I began muttering litanies to the Omnissiah, and popped open compartments to reconnect sprung connections and sooth the venerable fighters' machine spirits as the Rogue Trader fought to maintain control. With a high pitched whining sound, systems began to spring back to life, and we swept low over the planet surface making a quick and neat landing. It should be noted that my fellow passengers wasted a lot of time, and oxygen, screaming and making unnecessary noise at this point. If they persist in doing this during moments of crisis, I am going to seriously consider replacing my ears with cybernetics, so I can tune out these annoying distractions...

As the atmosphere was hostile to human life, I checked the tell-tales on my void-suit, and followed the others from the fighter, checking my chrono, conscious that we were well into the allotted time window that would allow us to safely return to the Furnace of Redemption prior to the next energy burst from the pulsar. After a search of the area, my concerns that the wreckage was that of the Righteous Path were alleviated, as Void Master Spence identified it as of Orkoid origin. Scattered on the ground were more examples of the brutish technology and I quickly gathered a few examples of the Xenos-tech weapons for later study. There was no evidence that any of the Xenos had survived, but by all accounts Orks are a tough breed, so this was another threat we would need to watch for. I reminded the others that we needed to get back to the Furnace of Redemption to avoid the imminent radiation burst, and we made it safely back to the vessel with minutes to spare. I hurried to my workshop, and was able to identify the target of the energy web was on Magoros Prime, and suggested that we make that our next destination.

Two days later we found ourselves in orbit above Prime, a desolate wasteland with a dust choked dirty grey surface. We detected a number of vast Xenos ruins, and the energy trail led to the centre of one of these huge ruins on the Northern landmass, specifically to a large, elongated diamond shaped crystal tower structure surrounded by a maze and electro-magnetic turbulence. Were later to discover records indicating that this was some sort of "Star Mirror", and it was clearly Xenos-tech. It seemed that this would be the next obvious point to take our investigations.

We quickly arranged deployment of six of our complement of shuttle-craft to deploy a half-Cohort of the Warmasters infantry who would support the landing of the Warmaster himself, Void Master Spence, Navigator Proscesu and myself. I chose the Tech-Guard command maniple, Maniple H001.00, to accompany me and act as a personal bodyguard, after all, Omnissiah knew what we could encounter on that desolate planet. The electro-magnetic interference meant that the closest we could get to the structure would be 3km, so we would have to walk. After I made a quick blessing of the machine spirits to guide us safely to our destination, we boarded the shuttle-craft and prepared for the descent.

++ End of record ++

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++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



The descent to the planet surface was rough, but otherwise uneventful, and the landing zone became a a hive of activity as the Warmaster’s troops set up a perimeter, headquarters shelter, and checked the immediate area for threats. I had extrapolated the data we had from our scans to determine that the atmosphere of the planet should offer suitable protection from the radiation of the pulsar, however, unprotected humans should limit their loiter time to six standard hours. I passed this information to the command staff and they disseminated it to the troops. Once this was done, I spent my time ensuring that the machine spirits of the expeditionary equipment was suitably soothed after the rogh descent, to enable them to perform at their best. I sent my servo-skill companion, Yorrick, to undertake a sweep of the perimeter

All the ground movement kicked up the fine dust that covered the surface of the planet, and it became obvious that all the equipment would need careful maintenance on return to the vessel. In the midst of this mass of action, Navigator Proscesu, left with nothing to do except observe, spotted a child sized humanoid creature in the midst of the ruined buildings to the edge of the landing zone. It had sharp, pointy features with a greenish hue pigmented with a sandy colour, and seemed to be very hyperactive. The Navigator, alarmed by the strange Xenos creature alerted Warmaster Hartek, indicating the last place he had seen the strange figure.

The Warmaster sent out a fireteam to check on the potential threat, and Yorrick, as part of his sweep reported back to me that the soldiers were heading out of the perimeter, and curious as to where they were going, as, at this point I was still blissfully unaware of the nearby Xenos, I ordered him to shadow them. As the soldiers advanced in the dust, Yorrick was able to detect the strange creature watching them intently from cover, and thanking him for his alertness I voxed a warning to the patrol leader. Unfortunately, as soon as they reacted to my message, the creature turned tail and fled, pursued by the soldiers and Yorrick, who tracked it to a rubble covered bolt hole. The soldiers cleared the rubble and found a small tunnel leading off, and seemed unsure what to do next, so I called Warmaster Hartek over, and relayed what I had seen. He quickly recalled the soldiers.

As he had previously established himself as our Xenos specialist, I took Yorrick’s recording to Void Master Spence, and he was able to identify the creature as of Orkoid breed. We warned all of the troops on the ground of the potential threat.

The new discovery focussed our minds somewhat, and the Warmaster, two squads of his infantry, myself and my Tech-guard Maniple, the Navigator and the Void Master set off at a steady pace in the direction of the Star Mirror. It was quite difficult to navigate through the maze of ruins, complicated by the amount of dust in the air. Yorrick, and my other servo skull Horatio kept an airborne watch on the column, but, as we got to within a thousand metres or so, of the Mirror I had to recall them as the electromagnetic interference played havoc with their systems, and, unfortunately our vox equipment.

There was an eerie emptiness to the planet, which put some of the soldiers on edge, but two-thirds of the way to the mirror, the scout section called a halt to the advance, and two of them returned to the Warmaster to report the sighting of more Xenos creatures. These Xenos, however, were huge, they reported, bigger than the largest man in our group, and there were twelve of them. After a quick debate we planned to skirt the area and attempt to sneak past them, however, just as this was agreed, the air was split by a growling war-cry, and as we looked over, we saw the creatures charging round the corner.

"Orks!" came the warning shout from the Void Master, quickly followed by "Stand-to!" from the Warmaster. He looked up at me, a wry expression on his face, "Evidently we’re on Plan B...!"

As the giant brutes lumbered towards us, the soldiers opened fire with their lasguns, my Tech-guard following suit, and as they came into range the gout of flame from the heavy flamer burst from our ranks. The beasts are tough though, very tough, I saw one take three las-bursts to the chest, and catch fire from the flamer, and still keep charging, laughing all the time. I am certain that the others felt the same suprise and uncertainty as I.

I snapped off an ineffectual shot from my hell-gun, and then stepped forward with the Warmaster as we determined to team up against one of the brutes. Following our lead, the Void Master and Navigator targeted another between them.

The fight was brutal, but not short. No quarter was asked for, or given, and although we wiped the Xenos out we suffered grievously. Warmaster Hartek and I literally diced two of the creatures. We had to – they continued to fight after we’d removed chunks of flesh that would have killed anything else, and Omnissiah be praised, we remained unscathed. The Void Master was less fortunate. Although seriously wounding one of the creatures, it simply took this as a challenge, stepped in and smashed him to the ground leaving him with broken bones and close to death. In desperation, the Navigator uncovered his pineal eye, focussing his deadly gaze on the Void Masters would be murderer. With a howl of pain, the creature’s head simply burst, unfortunately the his gaze also caught the attention of four of the Warmaster’s infantry, and two of my Tech-guard, with similar results. So not only are we risking the resource that the Navigator represents, he is killing our own men. I do not approve.

Silence fell as the skirmish ended, broken only by the cries of our wounded. We had lost fully 70% of our force, and we attempted to patch up the injuries of the survivors. As one of the Warmaster’s troopers ran up to him to report, one of the fallen Orks grabbed him, and with its last breath impaled the unfortunate man before finally expiring. Angered, the Warmaster ensured all the filthy creatures were dead by taking the heavy flamer from one of my fallen Tech-guard and incinerating all the bodies. We stripped the ammunition and salvageable gear from our own fallen, before doing the same to them to prevent them becoming carrion for other Xenos who may discover their remains later, as I muttered a prayer to the Omnissiah. The Tech-guard Captain had fallen in single combat with one of the enemy, I did not see his death, but as the Staff Sergeant salvaged his weapons he spoke;

"Sir, you knew when you faced the creature you had only 13.1% chance of prevailing, but you did your duty. You have my respect."

I cannot think of a finer eulogy.

The surviving six soldiers of the Warmaster, and three of my Tech-guard formed a defensive formation around myself, Warmaster Hartek, Navigator Proroscesu, and the Void Master. Void Master Spence was able to move, but his armour was rent in a number of places, and blood was seeping through the joints, and it was obvious that he was operating at well below peak efficiency, but credit to the man, he did not complain as we pushed on.

The Omnissiah was watching over us, and we made it to the Star Mirror without further incident. Warmaster Hartek and the soldiers setup a loose defensive perimeter as the rest of us entered the huge chamber. It was undoubtedly of Xenos origin, which I for one found unsettling. I felt that I was surrounded by light and swirling images, the air itself seemed almost alive, and I could not even discern where the chamber floor, walls, and ceiling began or ended. I concentrated, and slowly began to make sense of what I was seeing, suddenly, I realised that with careful thought I could move events forwards or backwards, like speeding up or reversing a recorder file. After a few minutes I found the key, and although my head was beginning the hurt I watched the Righteous Path enter the system, tumbling in an uncontrolled way before crashing into the Shard Halo that surrounded the system. I forwarded the vision to the present time, and saw the vessel still there, stuck in the ice of the Shards. I broke connection with the Star Mirror, and thankfully stepped from the chamber as the pain in my head dwindled. The others who had been in the chamber confirmed that they had seen the same as me, although Void Master Spence seemed to be suffering more than myself and the Navigator - possible as a result of his wounds - and we prepared to head back to the shuttle landing zone.

As we were about to start, the vox crackled to life, and although the message was garbled with static, we were able to make out the message – the troops around the ships were being attacked with large numbers of Orks. The Warmaster barked an order to hold fast until we returned and we set off at a run hoping that speed would be more important than stealth at this point.

Fortunately, this proved to be the case, and though we could hear the sound of heavy fighting, and the sound of the landers engines running, preparing for a rapid withdrawal, we managed to close to within a couple of hundred metres of our lines. The Warmaster got on vox and attempted too co-ordinate a fire corridor for us to withdraw through. His troops, excellently drilled, accurately lay mortar fire down, and overlapped heavy-stubber fire allowing us to safely reach the landers. The troops collapsed the lines in an orderly manner until we were boarding the shuttles, blasting off as hundreds of Xenos led by a huge Ork came boiling out of the ruins. All the data suggests that had we not escaped when we did, the probability of us escaping the planet was low.

I suggested to the Warmaster that we order the Furnace of Redemption to bombard the ruins with the melta-cannons, but he had beaten me to it, having already passed the order. As the rounds screamed through the atmosphere we could feel the shockwaves onboard the vessels, and were able to see the planet surface pulverised by the impacts. As the landers continued the journey back to orbit, we were able to tally our casualties, and found that a further fifty-nine loyal servants of the Dynasty had given their lives, and now find themselves at the Omnissiahs right hand. Although we had lost a total of eighty members of our combined fighting forces, their noble sacrifice will not be forgotten, and in return, data suggested that we had killed eighty-six of the Xenos filth.

We had medicae personnel standing by in the docking bay to deal with our casualties, however Void Master Spence did not have the luxury of seeking aid straight away, and was ordered to fire the lance battery at the Star Mirror with the aim of destroying it and denying the information to our rivals. There were a number of boiling explosions as the weapon strikes hit, however before it succumbed to the immense energies, it reflected some power straight back at us, temporarily overloading the void shields. I was relieved that was all that it did, as the destruction of the Star Mirror caused feedback through the void along the power web, and the ensuing reaction shattered Magoros Secundus, splitting the planet and pushing it out of orbit. Shocked by what we had just seen, there was silence on the bridge. Void Master Spence was finally released to the care of the medicae, and although little could be done to speed his recovery because of the way he had pushed himself on, they managed to stabilise his injuries.

I entered the location of the Righteous Path into the navigation cogitator, and the Helmsman set our course to follow the route.


Two days flight away from the centre of the system saw us close to within a few thousand kilometres of the wreckage of the Righteous Path in the Shard Halo, and we were able to take a lander to within three hundred metres of the wrecked ship. It was obvious that she was not the only vessel to have ended her service here, and there were a number of dead ships encased in the ice, most of designs unknown to me. I postulated that they may have been drawn there by some quirk of the warp, possibly in the same way space-hulks are formed. That knowledge did not make me feel any better about entering the wreck, so along with the Warmaster and the Navigator I brought the thirty Tech-guard of Maniple H001.03 under the command of Lieutenant Vesh to act as our protection.

We slowly and carefully advanced towards our goal, and we quickly saw that the ship was beyond all rescue, ending my hope of re-activatng the venerable vessel and flying her out of the system. There was a huge tear halfway down the hull, almost breaking her in two, so we used that as an entry point. Checking our auspexes we stepped into the wreck, and as we made our way through the twisted wreckage the ship was silent, however, as we closed in on the core, we found it protected by massive energy seals. I was able to discern that these were controlled from the bridge, so we altered course and headed there. The journey took some time, but was uneventful, and I was quickly able to open the sealed airlocks, ordering my Tech-guard though the now open portal to take up defensive positions.

The bridge was faintly illuminated by the light of the pulsar penetrating through the vista panels, and we quickly found that nothing remained alive. I told the Tech-guard to take the Warmaster’s orders as though they were my own – at least for now, and proceeded to search the chamber, which was covered in a thick layer of glittering dust, looking for the method of dropping the energy shield surrounding the core. Navigator Proscesu made his way to the Navigation bubble, finding the corpse of the Navigator of Righteous Path. He removed a platinum medallion, bearing the name "Astrianna" and the symbol of House Asmotten, explaining that he planned to ensure that it was returned to the relevant people. Very noble, I am sure, but not really pertinent to the job in hand.

In the cogitator core chamber, I discovered the means of shutting the energy field down. I plugged myself in and began to negotiate with the machine spirit of the vessel. It was very primitive and basic, and how I imagine communicating with a feral beast would be, but I had to tread carefully as I sensed one wrong move would leave me a burnt husk. Eventually, I assured the machine spirit we were no threat, and deactivated the seals.

We headed back to the holds, barring the bridge doors as we left, to deny anyone else access. Even though the seals were down, it was clear that the cargo hold doors had not been opened for decades, so we used the heavy flamer to melt the ice encasing them, and forced them apart. We were greeted with the sight of a huge, cavernous hold, filled with rows upon rows of caskets and crates. We had discovered the fabled treasure of this legendary ship.

The call was made to our own ship for as many of the soldiers and armsmen onboard our vessel as possible to suit up, and begin the laborious task of transferring the precious cargo. Just as this conversation finished, one of my Tech-guard hurried over, informing me that there was something that warranted my attention. Normally soldiers cannot tell what warrants my attention, however, these were Tech-guard, so I had more faith in his judgement. A second Tech-guard was waiting, and my interest was immediately piqued, as the normally emotionless man had a faint look of concern crossing his face.

He directed me towards a corner of the hold. Stored there was huge metallic storage container, approximately twelve metres high, and seventy metres wide and long. The front was made from a plasti-glass material, however this was frosted over. A further five metres away from this container was a strange metal based bubble, containing a figure, which on closer inspection was seen to be wearing rust-red robes and had a number of mechadendrites fitted. We had found a fellow Tech-Priest, and quickly ascertained that he was in a stasis field that appeared to be failing. I found an interface point on the side of the stasis chamber, and plugged myself in. I have since been informed that the Warmaster and Navigator were reasonably alarmed for my safety (and probably their own) as I was doing so, fearing that whatever I was connecting to could take control of my body.

As I was occupied with interfacing with the stasis chamber, they took a closer look through the frosted glass front of the large container. They began to make out the shape of large metal humanoids, that had the appearance of armoured servitors, however, no organic components were exposed. As they looked closer, they counted twelve of these before the container faded into darkness where illumination could not reach.

When I made contact via the connection, it felt old and worn, as though poorly maintained, and initially the other presence spoke to me distantly, and in the third party. I offered the standard Adeptus Mechanicus greeting and formal introduction, via information sharing, however the return was fragmented and scattered. The presence was indeed that of another Tech-Priest, one Kadis Calldia. He explained that he had become trapped in the stasis field almost a century previously, and as it was faulty he was unable to leave, as the moment he did, his body would die. His only way out would be an ancient ritual called the Rite of Duplessence, where he could transfer his conciousness into my body. I had heard of this ritual previously, and although there were risks, readily agreed to allow him this, after all, it would be illogical to lose his knowledge, and the Omnissiah, as everyone knows, would never forgive wilful destruction of important resources and knowledge.

We passed information between each other, and the transfer of conciousness began I felt I was losing myself, however, he used his own knowledge to draw me back to myself. Checking my internal chrono later, it seems that this process took almost 47 standard hours, although the time seemed to pass in a flash. I could feel his memories and knowledge mixing and complementing my own, and strangely, I felt more complete, more whole, than I ever had, praise be to the Omnissiah.

Once we had been safely joined, it became obvious that Tech-Priest Calldia had missed conversing with others, and he kept up a commentry of events as they were happening, which was a little distracting, but from that stream of information I was able to strain useful snippets. He explained the contents of the storage container to me. It contained the Twenty-Fourth Assault Gear of Iron Men. He went on to explain that they were archeotech devices from the Dark Age of Technology, and were currently frozen. I dredged my memory for additional information, and recalled that they were robots rather than servitors, and had an artificial intelligence. As I pondered this, I realised that this would be seen as a tech-heresy by those of a more puritan outlook, so with our long term aim of looking for a means to help defeat the Tyranid Xenos threat to the Calixis sector in mind, resolved that these were too great a resource to loose, and to refer to them as "armoured servitors" henceforth.

My initial plan to remove one of the Iron Men for analysis was frustrated at the first hurdle as it became obvious that they were linked together, so it was a case of activate them all, or activate none of them. Initially I thought about teleporting the Iron Men from their container into my workshop, but decided that as I was unsure how they would react when activated, so it would be better to have them active here first, rather than risk something unpredictable happening on board the Furnace of Redemption Accordingly I notified the Warmaster of my plans, and cleared the area of all except his chosen troops.

It was a reasonably simple process to connect myself to the container machine spirit, and although the technology was ancient and exceptionally advanced, between us, myself and Tech-Priest Calldia, managed to instruct the Iron Men to activate. The Warmaster looked on from a safe distance - if there is such a thing, and later commented that I did seem to be muttering to myself. I must learn to internalise my conversations with Calldia, it seams to cause some disquiet amongst non-Mechanicus personnel.

The plasti-glass screen covering the front of the container retracted, and then curved away - I have never seen glass bend like that before - even the technology of the container is incredible, and I must study that too. As I looked up, I got my first clear sight of an Iron Man, and I found it difficult to supress my emotions - here was millenia old technology, perfection in the eyes of the Omnissiah, and I had managed to activate it, where all others had failed! My attention was drawn back to reality as I heard the gasps of the Warmasters soldiers, and a number of them backed away. Understandable I suppose; the Iron Men moved with a mechanical grace that I have never seen before, particulary given their size - they stand over two metres tall, and are silently intimidating. A number of others stepped out of the container, and the Warmaster later told me, took up positions in a precise defensive cordon, seeming to defer to the one in front of me. It was then I realised that although I had activated these wonderful manifestations of the Omnissiah, I had no idea whether they would follow my instructions...

Fear is a wonderful media for focussing the mind. Sorry, minds, as Tech-Priest Calldia has just reminded me.

I gave the standard Mechanicus greeting in all the tech, and non-tech languages I know, but received no response. The Warmaster nervously asked me whether I had gained control of the Iron Men, and I was forced to admit that I was still attempting to communicate with them. I do not believe that this made the troops around us feel any more relaxed, And I am certain that he was contemplating a variety or dire responses should the situation escalate. My chrono indicated that an hour had passed when suddenly the Iron Man leaned towards me - I had attempted a very rich, complicated, and advanced form of communication that involved laser flashes as well as sound that was driven from my Neuro-sphere. I retuned some of my sensors to try to understand what had caused the reaction from the Iron Man, when suddenly I could see that each of the Iron Men had their own Neuro-sphere, far more complicated, and containing much more information than any I had previously seen, but I was able to interperet the core information and part of this included the Iron Mans' attempts to communicate with me.

Unfortunately, the repeatedly message was; "Authorisation code?"

I quickly realised that it would be impossible to work out or guess an authorisation code over 12,000 years old, and also realised that the past attempts at communication were probably wasted, so decided to simply flash a message back from my own Neuro-sphere, asking the Iron Man the date of his last activation. It appears that being able understand and respond was authorisation enough, as the Iron Man responded "Authorisation code accepted."

I do not believe that I have ever felt such a mixture of relief and elation.

I need to spend time working on gaining an understanding the full language of these marvels so that I can communicate in a more efficient manner. The Iron Man started scanning us, and quickly came to the conclusion that we were genetically inferior varients of the human genome, even registering the Warmaster as heavily mutated and barely humanoid. Once again, I felt a flash of fear as I felt the spirit of the Omnissiah judging me. It appeared to be judging how human we were. I quickly gave it enough information to enable it to understand the differences it was detecting, giving it the current date, indicating the amount of time that had passed since it had last encountered humans, and explaining the envionmental factors that had had an impact on the development of our race, including standard variations and genetic alteration. The Iron Man accepted my logic, also accepting that we were the true descendents of the human race, praise be to the Omnissiah!

The Iron Man raised itself to its full height and give me it's designation; XX1V1, stated that it was the command model, and then it requested mission parameters. I designated myself as the commanding officer, and specified re-supply and re-organisation - the movement of the equipment from the hull of the "Righteous Path" to the shuttle landing zone - as the current mission. Instantly, the Iron Men, (and there are a hundred of them - a hundred!), snapped into action. We recalled the crew back to their duties, and very quickly the flow of treasures to our vessel resumed.

I continued to converse with XX1V1, and requested a data burst of the capabilities and specifications of the Iron Men, which he quickly provided, before joining his metal bretheren in moving the cargo. I confess to understanding little of the data he passed me, and need to analyse it further, but initial readings suggest that the Iron Men are self contained combat units, powered by a very compact and advanced form of plasma reactor, their armour seems to be of a similar capability to power armour, and they are all armed with plasma weapons. One noticable aspect was that they modified their actions until they found the most efficient way of transferring the cargo, indicating an active intelligence inside the armoured shell, differing significantly from the more mundane servitors.

As the transfer was passing off so smoothly, Warmaster Hartek decided to explore some of the more remote regions of the wrecked ship, and in a distant lighter hold he discovered row upon row of Gun-cutters. Although a number had been destroyed in the crash, there were still a hundred that remained fully functional and completely undamaged, and when I had chance to check them over, it was obvious that they were of exceptional build quality. The Warmaster now had the means to rapidly deploy his entire force, and provide a degree of air cover. Rarely have I seen the abhuman smile so widely.

Nine standard days passed, and I calculated that we had moved 77.3% of the contents of the Rightous Path when we were interrupted by a vox message from our bridge crew; it warned of an incoming vessel. They were quickly able to identify the newcomer as the Fel Hand, and on the view screen came an image of Hadarak Fel, himself. Wasting no time with greetings he demanded that we power down our weapons and surrender, something that seems to happen every time we encounter another ship...

++ End of record ++

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I'm loathe to break the flow of these reports, but I did want to let you know that they're greatly appreciated! Not only do they capture the essence of your campaign, but they also paint a remarkable picture of an Enginseer Hak and his quirks.


I'm looking forward to reading more!

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Thanks for the kind words and the Prologue has now been edited into the first post.

FYI we played a 50-odd session Dark Heresy campaign before Rogue Trader and Atellus and Castagir were pc's in that campaign.

++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



Hadarak Fel was a fairly old and grizzled man, and had a distinctive scar cutting across the right side of his face that suggested untold stories of his time in the Expanse, he dressed in the style of an Imperial noble, and he was surrounded by servants and staff, and was sipping from a glass of quality Amasec, the half empty bottle visible behind him. As our Rogue Trader was indisposed in his quarters, it was left to the First Officer, our Warmaster, to step forward and take command.

Warmaster Hartek drew himself up to his full height, and growled; "I am Kilgrim Hartek, Warmaster of the Furnace of Redemption and sworn bondsman to House Dureen. Your commands hold no dominion here!"

Fel, paused with his hand on his chin before replying; "So you want to play hardball then do you?"

The Warmaster smiled. "It's the only game in town!"

"I know your ship's damaged, and you can ill afford a fight out here..." replied Fel, "But I'm a man of honour, and don't let it be said that Hadarak Fel is not a fair man..."

"Oh, I've never heard you addressed as a man m'lord!" came the jovial retort from Warmaster Hartek, and our bridge crew struggled to suppress their smiles. "The usual reference is some sort of beast of the field, I believe...!"

Fel glared sharply at the holo-screen, and seemed to be reassessing Hartek, "Why do you try to goad me into attacking you Warmaster?"

Warmaster Hartek dropped his relaxed manner, "Do it, and find out. M'lord!"

"Hmmmm." Mused Fel. "Do we have to insult each other across the void? Can we not talk as gentlemen?"

"Of course! Come over to our ship and we can trade insults in person!" smiled the Warmaster. "Please, m'lord. You were going to state your demands. Oh, I'm sorry, I mean requests..."

Fel smiled, in spite of himself. "I can see that you're a... man... yes, a man, of your convictions. Well, in this business you may have cracked - you never know - I've seen it before! But I'm willing to deal with you, businessman to businessman..."

"I'm a simple man of war, m'lord. Is there a point to this discussion?" grunted the Warmaster, apparently still smarting from the "man" comment.

"Well, if you want to fight, we can fight, but I assure you that your ship will be even more damaged than it currently is. My ship is not damaged, and I know all about your up-rated weapons systems... But as I say, I am a reasonable man..."

Hartek shrugged. "State your terms, and I will relay them to my lord Trader."

"Where is he?" questioned Fel, obviously puzzled. "Shouldn't he be holding these discussions with me?"

Hartek smiled his evil little smile, "I believe he is involved with the game of bagatelle, and felt that he couldn't be disturbed at such a crucial juncture. He wished to complete the game before proceeding to other matters."

Fel raised an eyebrow. "He'll go far, that one!" He glanced at his crew and shook his head. "My terms are that we share the prize, and that there is no conflict. I will allow ten standard minutes for you to discuss this with your lord."

"You are over generous m'lord" the Warmaster responded, and the connection was cut.

Throughout the conversation we had been scanning the Fel Hand in order to judge the capabilities of our opponent. The focussed augery returned the details of a fairly standard Firestorm Class Frigate, so we out-gunned him quite considerably, however murder servitors were also detected making a boarding action a risky proposition. As our hull was still damaged from our encounter with the raiders on the way into the Koronus Expanse, we needed to be careful, as should we be damaged further, it was entirely possible that we could be marooned here. After a brief discussion the Warmaster and I decided that had we been fully repaired, we would have engaged our rival in combat without hesitation, however, in our current state, negotiation would be the best approach. At this point, the Astropath reported to us that we had been scanned by psyker.

I turned to the Warmaster, and suggested we open with the suggestion that we would withdraw, leaving him to claim anything left on the Righteous Path telling him that we had been here a week, and leaving him to assume how much treasure was there as he would be unaware of the accelerated off loading schedule we had managed to push through.

I heard a voice, "A just plan! A just plan indeed!", and the Warmaster looked puzzled when I spoke; "Pardon? Oh! It's you!" I paused, and turned to Warmaster Hartek, "Tech-Priest Calldia approves!" and couldn't help but smile at the relief on Kilgrims face when he realised that I was not talking to myself.

"Don't forget though, he does have the services of a psyker..." mused the Warmaster, "We will have to guard our thoughts."

He then made a suggestion that perhaps the additional consciousness in my head could through confusion if a psyker attempted to read my thoughts, so he would begin the conversation, but hand over to me when it came to dealing with the specifics of the treasures we had gained. I nodded, and Warmaster Hartek hailed the Fel Hand.

As the holo-screen came up, we saw Fel motioning at someone to get clear of the view, and although it was an assumption, I was fairly sure that this was his psyker. The conversation continued in the same vein as previously, with some amusing verbal sparring, and the Warmaster made our offer. Fel snorted, obviously seeing through the subterfuge, or being prompted to do so by his pet witch.

"Warmaster Hartek, we're both here for profit, and I'm sure that we can come to an arrangement that suits everyone without any more... misunderstandings..."

The Warmaster smiled ruefully and the negotiations continued. Eventually, an even split of the spoils was agreed, and I stepped forward to deal with the intricacies of the split, and we agreed to allow a small survey team aboard our vessel to inventory the cargo removed from the holds of the Righteous Path. They were to be closely escorted at all times. As the conversation came to an end, I brought up the subject of some personal equipment belonging to our sponsors, Inquisitor Attelus and the Astartes Castagir, which reportedly had found its way into the hands of Fel. After initial denials, Fel acknowledged that he did indeed have the gear, and after a little pressure regarding how he would react to the scrutiny of the Inquisition, and an Astartes Chapter, he agreed to return it after I offered to pay him his costs, and a "storage fee". He seemed genuinely disappointed to be losing some valued artefacts from his trophy room, so I offered to keep watch on our travels, for anything I felt may interest him, and would leave such discoveries on Footfall or Port Wander for him. He nodded his thanks.

Effectively, we kept the smaller, higher value finds, as it made storage easier and allowed him to take the larger items, as he had a cargo bay to store it all in, and we do not. I must prompt the Rogue Trader to look into investing in a transport vessel to overcome this issue...

Once all the cargo had been transferred, Fel sent a last shuttle over to us, inside were a number of sealed crates purporting to contain the personal equipment of Inquisitor Attelus and his confederates. The shuttle craft returned to the Fel Hand and the ship began to move towards the warp jump point. I opened the crates to ensure the contents matched the inventory and thanks be to the Omnissiah, all the missing gear was present. Additionally present were two bottles of the finest Amasec, and a hand written note; "Something to ease the lonely trips through the void. Fel. Oh, and be careful with those Men of Iron...!"

I turned to the Warmaster; "We need to do a full security sweep!"

He spat on the floor, "Emperor damned psykers!"

We had both come to the conclusion that Fel's pet psyker had managed to sneak on board with the inventory party, and the next few days were spent with all hands searching the vessel, and fortunately after a thorough search, nothing was found. Comforted that nothing out of the ordinary was found we left the system and made the jump to the warp.

Initially, the journey back to Footfall was uneventful, other than the now seemingly regular delay for a warp storm that blew up from nowhere, much to the frustration of all on board. Later on, however, I had a number of reports from members of the crew of hearing voices. They were concerned about the functionality of the Gellar Field, but had no cause to worry, as it performed flawlessly for the entire journey. Most concerning to me was the somewhat erratic behaviour of Warmaster Hartek, he was seemingly distracted by voices too... (Something I'm getting used to myself, aren't I Calldia? Oh. Right, so I'm distracting you now, am I...?)

Anyway, back to the Warmaster. He was heard talking to himself on a number of occasions, seemingly arguing that he had not failed his ancestors as it seemed the unseen voices were claiming, and that he had done well for himself, holding the position that he did in our Dynasty. I cannot find a reason to argue with that analysis. Even though it seems the Warmaster is confident in his own abilities, if his mutterings are anything to go by, he feels a deep guilt, something to do with the sacrifice of his ancestors, although I was unable to glean much extra from the reports of his ravings. Next time we head into the empyrean I must send Yorrick to watch over my friend.

Although the strange voices died away as the journey continued, it was with some relief when we made the successful jump into real-space and the Footfall system.



We made our way to the docks are and linked up with the two Raiders that we'd left for repair, and contacted the Seneshal, Mistress Cassandra Salvatore calling her aboard the vessel to report on her activities in our absence. As the Seneschal came aboard, we arranged for the repair crews to continue their work on the Furnace of Redemption as we off-loaded our treasures for sale on the open market. We settled in for several weeks work in the system, looking to setup a permanent base to operate from in the Expanse, and to this end the Seneshal had recruited a number of locals to the cause of House Dureen. With this newfound expertise, we began to put feelers out to gain influence with, and befriend those who held sway in the system.

The repairs on the ships went well, with the Furnace of Redemption now only suffering 1% hull damage, and The Revenge now at 7% hull damage. The repair crews had yet to start work on The Great Fortune, however this was timetabled to begin shortly.

As the repairs were being made, we took stock of the options we had open to us, and decided that the ideal operating base in Footfall would be a hollowed out asteroid, we just needed to locate one suitable for the role. This seemed to dovetail nicely with other plans that we had made to survey some of the systems of the Koronus Expanse, looking for exploitable systems, and for stable warp routes to allow us to travel to and from these worlds. Our immediate plans made, we began to plan for the longer term; Warmaster Hartek reminded us of the information he had garnered on our previous visit here, and accordingly we included the potential represented by Ashant, and the Space Hulk Blemish in our strategic thinking. We were left now with the immediate issue of making our mark with those in power in Footfall. Warmaster Hartek spoke up, volunteering to reactivate his old contacts from his previous life on Footfall, and because of the sensitive nature, and desire for privacy, of some of these people, he refused any assistance from anyone else. I am not entirely sure what he did, and for sure he was not telling, however, many of the more "earthy" characters of Footfall began to feed us information, the majority of it being of low level, but useful none the less, effectively we had our foot on the first rung of the ladder.

On his return to the ship, the Warmaster was smiling happily, and cradling a great two handed power axe of exquisite design. He explained to me that it was one of the traditional weapons of his people, and I think that it had sparked a number of questions. The Squat worlds were traditionally in the Eastern fringes of the galaxy, and so he became determined to trace its provenance, and find out why it was in the Koronus Expanse. He mused that perhaps there had been a Western Squat Empire too... I look forward to joining him on his journey of discovery, as the Squats were superb engineers, and if more examples of their work can be retrieved in the name of the Omnissiah, then that cannot be a bad thing.

++ End of record ++

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Kyriotsu said:

100 Pre-practically everything Iron Men on board your ship.

Yeah. That's going to end well.

As the player of Warmaster Kilgrim Hartek in Marvin's campaign, I agree 100% with this analysis.  As the account from last night's session will demonstrate. happy.gif



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Dont worry im sure they will play nice.........gran_risa.gif

++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



Warmaster Hartek had been spending time sifting through the information that his re-established Footfall contacts had brought to him over the previous weeks, with the aim of gleaning the information that would be useful to us in establishing the Dureen Dynasty in the Expanse. With this in mind, one of the names that repeatedly appeared in the gathered intelligence was the "Black Dragon society". Apparently, the Black Dragons are an underworld group, albeit with a number of legitimate businesses, and have the reputation of being the people to deal with when setting up a base of operations, and particularly an asteroid base, such as we were planning.

That was the limit of the intelligence we had, so the Warmaster and I decided to push the individual contacts we had made over the last few weeks to complete the picture. I headed to the area that passed for the Halls of the Mechanicus - there was no official Mechanicus presence on Footfall, just an area where servants of the Omnissiah gathered, Tech-Priests based in Footfall, and Enginseers whose ships were in dock, or passing just through.

I approached a fellow Enginseer, mainly to quieten Tech-Priest Calldia, who was constantly offering helpful advice like "That one looks like a likely source of information!", yet could not offer a logical explanation when I asked for evidence of his observations. In this case however, Calldia was correct. (No need to be so smug about it Calldia - after all a broken chrono tells the correct time twice in a cycle!)

Initially the Enginseer was reluctant to speak to me, and then he noticed in my neuro-sphere that I had Tech-Priest Calldia within me, and he opened up. I introduced both of us, and after exchanging the formal greetings, much to the consternation of several passers-by (Calldia suggests that they were discomforted by the three way conversation, when they could only see two bodies), we spoke about our recent travels, with ours being more successful than his. He passed on a strange piece of information that he in turn had picked up from another Enginseer; while passing through the Maw, the Navigator of this Enginseer's vessel had detected a flotilla of between a dozen to two-dozen Imperial vessels, consisting of around half a dozen frigate escorts, a couple of cruisers, and a number of heavy transports. Unusually rather than passing through the Maw, these ships were travelling laterally across the Maw, through the Warp Storms.

Although this was interesting, and slightly worrying, he could tell me no more, so I steered the conversation onto the subject of the Black Dragon Society. He had heard of them, and was able to tell me that they were very interested in the priceless and holy technology of the Omnissiah, praise be to him, and they had an "advanced" outlook with regard to technology, appreciating it far more than normal humans. I took this to mean that it could be a borderline heretekal organisation, but he would not, or could not confirm this.

He warned me that the Black Dragons had been known to abduct innovators or inventors, and to buy out, or take by force, any project that appealed to them. People held them in a wary respect, but as long as they were left alone, generally they did not interfere with other concerns. Their speciality was in the construction of asteroid bases, and they owned their own, and had part ownership of several others, and also in the supply of underground technology.

When I returned to the Furnace of Redemption, the Warmaster was already waiting for me. Apparently I had been more successful than he; whenever he had mentioned the Black Dragons, people had looked concerned, clammed up, or simply pretended not to have heard him. I was happy to share what I had learned, that as long as we were careful, the Black Dragons could be the perfect organisation to use to construct our base in Footfall.

Our deliberations were interrupted by a message from Magos Julian, the Ship-Wright responsible for our damaged vessels. He informed us that he would have to charge a higher energy tithe to continue repairs. This was because he had had to spend a huge proportion of his time working exclusively for us, to the detriment of his other customers, and he needed the additional tithe to make it worth his while. As much as this annoyed the other members of the command staff, I could not fault the Magos's logic, and sympathised with him. What I could not understand however, was the footnote to the message which stated that no other yard would take on the work.

Puzzled, we requested a meeting with the Magos, which he refused as it would impact on his efficiency - again, neither I nor Calldia can find a floor in Magos Julian’s logic. The good Magos did, however, agree to a vox conversation, and he explained that the repairs required for our ships had almost drained the Footfall economy of part required for other construction work, and this had annoyed many other powerful organisations, who had instructed the dockyards not to work for us.

I could not help but smile when Warmaster Hartek growled "We're putting a fortune in their coffers; giving them work, and they complain about it. What's wrong with these people?"

None the less, we could ill afford to create friction with the local powers as we were looking to setup a base here. We asked the Magos for some time, and broke the connection. Realising that the easiest way to head off this trouble would be to import the parts and components that Footfall needed, I suggested setting up a regular trade run to Footfall from the Calixis sector, after all, we could make profit from the shortage ourselves. This was taken one step further, and a message sent to General Sinclair on Malfi, giving him a list of what was needed.

A week later, we had a message responding to our request, the General had fulfilled his part of our earlier bargain, and, after taking his cut, he diverted the much needed resources to us in Footfall. The potential trouble from the inhabitants of Footfall headed off, before it could develop, the pressure from the powerful interest groups was relaxed, and we could return to the task in hand; working to construct our permanent base.

The "Black Dragon Society", after making some prudent checks arranged for us to visit their asteroid base for us to meet their leader, Mistress Chu Leng. We took one of the gun-cutters, and a number of the Warmaster’s troops, and made the short journey from our ship.

The asteroid had been cleverly modified, was very well maintained, and included some high quality technology. It had an atmosphere that was of equal quality to that aboard the Furnace of Redemption, which suggested starship quality life sustainers of the Vitae pattern. The artificial gravity was steady, with no unusual fluctuations, and it contained a void shield generator, giving it a formidable defensive capability. On top of these details, the mere fact that it was situated to give a good view of the statue of the Emperor that dominates Footfall underlined the influence, power, and wealth that the Black Dragons wielded.

Ignoring the smirks from the armed, tattooed, toughs that were waiting in the hanger, we stepped towards a wizened oriental man, with a long wispy beard, who was obviously waiting for us. He bowed to us, and motioned for us to follow, and I returned his bow and complied, quickly followed by the others. Warmaster Hartek motioned for half of the soldiers to stay with the gun-cutter, while the rest of them escorted us for the ten minute walk through the passageways of the base. I noticed that many of the people we passed were cybernetically enhanced, a far greater percentage than would normally be seen in a standard population sample, a simple truth that seemed to confirm the stories we had heard about the Black Dragons love of technology.

We arrived at a set of large steel doors, standing seven metres high and decorated with a large image of a dragon, snaking down them. We were asked to divest ourselves of weapons, which after a brief pause we did, handing our gear to our remaining guards who, it was indicated would be waiting here. The doors were opened and were greeted with the sight of a large, open chamber, which contained a garden of oriental style, and gave a sense of tranquillity. We were led through the doorway, and then the old man stepped to one side, indicating we follow the path that led through the ornamental ponds, towards a structure I have since discovered is named a "pagoda". As we walked the hundred and fifty metres towards this, I heard Kilgrim mutter under his breath;

"I wish I had kept a pistol now..."

My attention had been held by the lanterns that were moving around the space under their own power, obviously on some sort of suspensor mount, so I was slightly confused by his comment, until he nodded towards the ponds, and I saw, with a slight shock, a number of large, black, reptilian creatures that slid into, and moved around, the waters of the ponds.

As I heard the doors close behind us, I cannot say that I disagreed with his thinking, and for the first time in a while, Tech Priest Calldia was stunned into silence.

We continued on towards the pagoda, and seated there was the figure of a woman; she was dressed in a silk kimono style dress, black in colour and with a number of red dragon motifs embroidered on it. Gracefully, she motioned for us to sit, and, I bowed, as did the others, and then we sat down.

She spoke, "I am Mistress Chu Leng, leader of this Society. I hear you wish to do business..."

I will not go into the details of the negotiations here, as, in all honesty they are not that interesting; suffice it to say, they were successful. Effectively, as long as we provided the asteroid for them to work on, they would create, and maintain a base for us. In return, we would use the Black Dragon Society as brokers for the technological requirements of the Dynasty in the Footfall system, and as a conduit for any technology we wished to dispose of. In addition, we signed a treaty of mutual protection, stating that should the Black Dragons or our Dynasty be attacked by more than one party, the other would aid them in defence. They also specified that anytime they were attacked by a ship, we would be bound to respond - from this we gathered that the Black Dragon Society did not possess ships of their own. Obviously, we put a clause into the treaty stating that we would not oppose Imperial authorities, after all, we had to operate within Imperial territory too, Mistress Leng agreed to this after Warmaster Hartek reassured her that we would use whatever influence we could to defuse a conflict against those we would not stand against, rather than just standing by and doing nothing.

Void Master Spence told me that Mistress Leng appeared to be somewhat wary of me, so for the full negotiations which took longer than that initial meeting I did not attend. We had decided that on completion to show good faith, we would give a gift to the good Mistress. I used my time sourcing this gift, and arranged for a modified Cherubim to be created, replacing the humanoid shape with that of a Black Dragon. The artisan that completed the job was of the highest skill, and the finished product was as good as anything I have ever seen, and I am told that it was received with real pleasure.

Our next logical step was to look for a suitable asteroid to construct the base from; however, we decided to combine this with out plans to explore the unknown systems of the Expanse, looking for planets we could exploit, and to map potential warp routes to allow us to move more efficiently around the systems. Navigator Proscesu had been hard at work, and uncovered clues to potential systems in Winterscale's Realm, and he estimated that the best initial step, would be a short warp hop of approximately five days, so with this plan in mind, we resupplied with everything we would need for the journey and prepared to move out into the void. We began to transfer crew from the heavily damaged The Great Fortune onto The Revenge to bring her compliment back to full strength. Initially, the movement of crew met some resistance, but after 'encouragement' from the Warmaster, and promises of new uniforms of the Dureen Dynasty, (we had arranged for a hundred thousand of these uniforms to be delivered to the Seneschal) this resistance melted away, and the transfer passed off without incident. With that, the Furnace of Redemption, followed by The Revenge left Footfall, headed for the jump point, and made the transition to the empyrean.


Navigator Proscesu had excelled himself, and aided by the quirk of our warp engines, we spent only a single, uneventful day in the warp, losing only two days of real-time, and transitioned back into real-space right on the cusp of the gravity well of the new system. The crew were jubilant, and the Navigator began to start the job of charting the route as it was such a quick and clean jump, however, I could not help remembering some of the less successful journeys we had made, (jumping into the tail of the comet in the Magoros System sprang immediately to mind), so kept to myself. Well, I tried to at least, Calldia spent a few minutes berating me for my churlishness. He may be right, but he was not there for that particular moment...

Warmaster Hartek order the crew set a course towards the star, actively scanning as we journeyed, and it soon became clear that we had arrived in a large system, with much potential.

At the core of this system was a young star throwing out a harsh, blue light. The sensorium Void Master informed us that we needed to be careful as there was a danger that this unusual light could burn out or sensorium array. I quickly connected myself to the array and, with the aid of Tech-Priest Calldia, requested that the machine spirits modify their frequencies to ameliorate the harshness of the star. After a few minutes, I had managed to persuade them to do so, and we were able to continue our scans without the threat of damage to the sensitive equipment. Unfortunately, even with the re-tuning, the crew was unable to clarify what the sensorium array was picking up.

The Warmaster ordered a spiralling course into the system, which would ensure that we intersected with each of the celestial bodies present. We determined that the Furnace of Redemption would lead the investigation, while The Revenge would take over-watch of the survey teams.

The first body we reached had been designated by the ship's cogitators as Unknown 1-104, and was a gas giant, and orbiting this world were three satellites; two Imperial design orbital stations that appeared to be suffering from a lack of maintenance, and a planet. The planet was of a type that the Imperium would classify as a death world, with a harsh environment and a toxic atmosphere. We dispatched survey teams to discover whether the gases of the gas giant were exploitable, and to see whether there was anything of use on the death world, while I, the Warmaster, Void Master Spence, a Maniple of my Tech-Guard, and five of the Iron men boarded the closest of the orbital stations.

We had detected an underlying power output from the stations, but could not determine whether an atmosphere was present, so had donned voidsuits. As the gun-cutter docked with the station, and a seal was made, the Iron Men got to their feet, messages I didn't understand passing through their Neuro-spheres, and waited patiently near the door. As soon as it opened, the slipped into combat formation, and quickly swept through the station, ensuring there was no threat. The Tech-Guard looked on, awestruck, as, if I am honest, did the rest of us.

We made our way into the command module of the station, and although everything was powered down, the durability of the station and the blessings of the Omnissiah were obvious, as all systems were still working. I plugged myself into the data-port of the onboard cogitators and with the aid of Calldia, brought the systems back up. Lights flickered on, and screens began to fill with data as the station began to return to life from standby. A message appeared on one of the terminals, blinking with an urgency that none of the other screens were showing, however, unfortunately, none of us in the survey team spoke High Gothic, which was the language that it was written in. I contacted Navigator Proscesu, who this time had actually remained on board the Furnace of Redemption, and he confirmed he could speak the language. I setup a link, from the station back to our vessel, all the while musing that the one time we could have used his presence, the damned Navigator decided not to accompany us. It appears that the Omnissiah likes to play little jokes on his followers.

Proscesu was able to translate the message, deciphering it as a warning; "Those who pass this beacon should abandon all hope, as all that awaits is either a painful or slow death...!"

Helpfully, there was no further information attached to the message explaining the reasons. I snorted, and cancelled the warning, digging through the data-cores, looking for anything that may actually be of use. I discovered that the station was around two millennia old, but even though the records were vast, they were incomplete, and I was unable to glean anything more useful than that. We left the station, and made the short journey to the second one orbiting the gas-giant, and found an almost exact replica. Still, should we discover that there are exploitable resources here we have readymade bases from which to manage them, and accordingly, have left small teams aboard them to begin the renovation and maintenance of these valuable and ancient void-bases.

The "Furnace of Redemption" continued her loop into the system, passed a comet, and towards an asteroid field. Once again, we dispatched survey teams, this time to look for an asteroid that met the exacting specifications of the Black Dragon Society. Further into the system was a second belt of rocks, and, to ensure that we did not miss anything, teams were dispatched there too.

We continued our journey, and came into orbit around another planet, designated Unknown 1-1-101 by the ships cogitators. This one was a small, dwarf planet, far more hospitable than the gas-giant or its satellite world, and although given its distance from the central star, would be cold, far harsher worlds in the Imperium are heavily populated. Most interestingly, we were able to detect energy readings that indicated active settlements, and the sensorium arrays detected vox-traffic. There was another satellite in orbit around the planet, very similar in design to the others we had encountered, however, this one was badly damaged, and had no sign of power.

The sensorium crew were able to identify the vox-traffic of being standard day to day operational reports, spoken in a form of Low Gothic, so the decision was taken to make a landing near the settlement. Unsure of what to expect, Warmaster Hartek sent a formal, diplomatic greeting, over-riding all other vox-channels, and then led a sizable force of a full Cohort of ground troops, supported by an additional ten gun-cutters. Void Master Spence, and I accompanied them, and it was a glorious sight to see the forces available to House Dureen flexing their muscles. We landed in some hanger bays cut into the bedrock of the planet, and immediately, the intense cold of the planet his us as we disembarked.

We were received by around four-hundred locals who had the look of a hardy frontier people. Their leader stepped forward and identified herself; "Were you sent here by Captain Dancer?"

Warmaster Hartek and I looked at one another. "No we weren't" he growled.

She paused, looking a little surprised, but gestured for us to follow further into the cave complex, which is where the locals lived.

As the conversation developed, we discovered that the people here were settlers from the Imperium who had been transported here by a Rogue Trader, Jack Dancer, thirty to forty standard years previously. They had an agreement for him to transport them here to give them a fresh start, and in exchange they would mine the world, providing mineral wealth for his Dynasty. The planet was harsher than they imagined, and many died in the early years, but they adapted to all the planet could throw at them, however, Captain Dancer never returned with the additional people, or resources he had promised. They discovered, already prefabricated cities on the planet, conforming to standard Imperial designs, but these cities were far larger than their needs, there only being 20,000 surviving new colonists, and each of the settlements capable of supporting 100,000 people, and as far as the locals could ascertain each had been constructed around two thousand years previously.

We agreed to leave survey teams, and should the potential of the planet prove to be the equal of what the colonists were suggesting, then we would step in and take over the role that Captain Dancer had left. Personally, I would not be surprised to learn that Dancer had taken the colonists transportation fees with no intention of returning to support them, effectively leaving them to their fates on the remote world.

Interestingly, just as we were ending the talks, the Emissary, as the woman leading the colonists was known, made a comment; "Perhaps those on the other world did better than we did!"

Stunned, we prompted her to continue, and she revealed that a similar group had been left on another planet in the system, however, that had an atmosphere that was not breathable, which is why these colonists had opted for this world. She looked at our scans of the system, and indicated Unknown 1-S2M3 as the world where the other colonists had located.

We took leave of our potential new business partners and continued our journey through the system, armed with the latest knowledge, passing another comet and the second asteroid belt we had detected earlier, before reaching the world designated "Unknown 1-1H2".

"Unknown 1-1H2" was a low gravity world with a relatively thin atmosphere that meant that the wearing of respirators was advisable, and its orbit was tide locked, meaning that one side was permanently dark and cold, the other light and arid. Orbiting "Unknown 1-1H2" was a satellite planet of similar type, although it was more than ninety-six percent liquid, studded with small barren islands, and its orbit was more extreme, meaning that the seasons were correspondingly extreme. We despatched survey teams to both planets, and quite quickly the one from the main planet reported an indigenous xenos contact which resulted in a number of casualties. The team dispatched to the second planet never reported back, or returned to the ship, however we felt that we had to deal with the known trouble rather than the unknown potential trouble first.

We waited to hear from the team that had been attacked; the reports detailed xenos of a tall thin avian form, armed with fairly primitive weaponry. The Warmaster loaded six gun-cutters with troops, and I boarded, escorted by five Iron Men. Void Master Spence joined us, keen as ever not to miss out on the excitement. We dropped from orbit, aiming for the location of the ambush, and quickly we were able to spot a group of pyramid, block shaped, and domed buildings, although there were noticeable attempts to camouflage them to hide them from the air. Other gun-cutters searching the continent quickly picked up other settlements having been passed this intelligence.

As a show of force, the Warmaster called the gun-cutters together, into tight formation, and flew over the city. He then ordered the others to patrol the immediate area while our gun-cutter made to land in an area that had all the appearance of a landing field. As we approached, half a dozen vessels which had the appearance of ancient surface ships began to rise from the ground, so the Warmaster ordered the crew of the gun-cutter to bring it to a hover, and wait for them. One of the vessels came close to us, while the others took up positions further away, surrounding us, and we took the opportunity to study the xenos; they were instantly recognisable from the initial descriptions given by the survey team, and were all armed with bows and spears. They were unlike any xenos any of us had previously encountered, and it was noticeable that the creatures on the platform ship that came close to us wore a lot of adornments that seemed to be crafted from precious gems and metals. One creature in particular seemed to be wearing a larger, more ornate, headdress and robe than the others, and appeared to be in charge.

Their ship rose to the level of our gun-cutter then stopped, and hovered. One of the creatures began to scratch at the deck of its vessel, and began a squawk at us, obviously attempting to communicate. Warmaster Hartek, who is gifted with languages, opened the side door of the gun-cutter, and strode over to the open portal, gesturing for two of the Iron Men to flank him. He attempted to converse with the xenos creature, and as he was doing so I could see the Iron Men flashing messages to each other via their neuro-spheres. The Warmaster did not understand what was being said, and as he stood in the open door pondering what to do next, the two Iron Men correctly identified the creatures as xenos, and opened fire. From one arm of each of the Iron Men, came blasts of plasma energy and from the other rapid bolts from a form of advanced multi-laser, and behind the fire, the two Iron Men advanced on the xenos vessel. Within a few seconds, it was over, and no xenos remained alive, and their vessel began drift down, gaining momentum rapidly. The Iron Men jumped clear of the ruined ship attempting to gain the open doorway of the gun-cutter, one successfully, the other not, and it fell away to the ground a hundred metres below.

I approached Iron Man XV1V1, and asked for the reason that the Iron Men had engaged the created; he paused, and simply stated that their prime objective was to cleanse the galaxy of xenos. I nodded, and attempted to explain diplomacy to him, whereupon he repeated their prime objective once more. I realised then that we would need to be exceptionally careful how we deployed these marvels...

Warmaster Hartek began to receive messages from the other gun-cutters, saying that the xenos were attacking, and although he considered opening fire he decided against it. We ordered our gun-cutter to descend to retrieve the wreckage of the Iron Man, and during the salvage operation, I also gathered the wreckage of the xenos craft, and some of the xenos bodies, for later examination.

The xenos, although fragile had a corrosive fluid that passed as their blood, and this had caused some damage to their ruined vessel, but I passed the information on to Warmaster Hartek, reasoning that his troops may have need of that knowledge. Later, when I examined the xenos craft, I could find no obvious method of propulsion, and strangely, the material from which it was crafted appeared to be of a light, aerated stone. I postulated that perhaps there was a psychic element to the control of the vessel, and Choir-Master Telepathica, Astropath Santoro Golgotha was able to confirm that the stone was psychically active, but that the power within lessened as time passed. I persuaded him to loan me one of his Astropaths in order to experiment with the stone, thinking of the many uses, particularly for the movement of heavy equipment, it could have.

Anyway, I digress.

We recalled our forces, and headed back to the Furnace of Redemption to plan how to salvage what we could from this world, as there were obvious opportunities for exploitation. However, it is quite clear now that the Iron Men are not the correct tool for a first contact situation...

We investigated the fate of the survey team and gun-cutter that had disappeared on the satellite world, and could find no trace, however, it appears that we inadvertently solved the mystery, and nearly lost another crew at the same time; while making a low pass over the oceans a huge creature launched itself from below the surface, nearly swallowing the gun-cutter, and the crew, whole. The story passed through the crew rapidly, something I feel can only benefit us as it reminded everyone of the dangers we face from the most unexpected quarters.

++ End of record ++


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DrVesuvius said:

Kyriotsu said:


100 Pre-practically everything Iron Men on board your ship.

Yeah. That's going to end well.



As the player of Warmaster Kilgrim Hartek in Marvin's campaign, I agree 100% with this analysis.  As the account from last night's session will demonstrate. happy.gif


And as the player of Enginseer Nicander Hak, I don't particularly expect things to end well - but it's going to be spectacular when it does end...! gran_risa.gif

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++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



There were a number of questions that needed addressing after the events with the avian xenos. I resolved to speak to the Iron Men, and so headed to their barracks area to look for Iron Man XX1V1. He agreed to converse with me, which I found strangely gratifying, and I began to outline one of the major reasons we were in the Expanse; the search for the means to defeat the various threats to the Calixis Sector, and in particular, the xenos Tyranid threat that had been detected. I was trying to emphasise the severity of the threat and, in a way that I am unaccustomed to, made what I felt was an impassioned plea for the aid of the Iron Men, however, I fear that this was not seen in this manner by XX1V1. As I turned to leave, I noticed an alert message in my neuro-sphere;

"Enginseer. Why do we fight for you...?"

That stopped me short. I turned round, and paused to gather my thoughts, and then, as other Iron Men emerged from various points of the chamber, choose my words very carefully, and replied; "You are under no obligation to fight for me, or for anyone else. However, should you wish to fulfil your primary role and destroy xenos threats to humanity, then there is no better opportunity do so than combating the threat we currently face. I will not order you to do so, as I have no right to do so, but I do ask for your aid. Should you decide that your primary objective has been rendered invalid by the passage of time, then I respect that, and would offer you the opportunity to leave us, and make your own way into the Expanse."

I paused, half expecting not to be in a position to leave the chamber, and awaited the response of the Iron Men, whatever that may be.

After what seemed to be an eternity, I had my reply; "We shall discuss." I was then escorted from the chamber.

I headed directly to Warmaster Hartek, as the Rogue Trader was still indisposed in his quarters, a fact that was beginning to be noticed, and be commented on by the crew, and I found him at the end of an operational meeting with a number of the senior officers. As the meeting ended, the topic turned to the continued absence of the Rogue Trader, and it was not so subtly hinted that should a command change happen, then no one in the crew would oppose it...

I absorbed this information, and could not find a logical reason to disagree with the opinions voiced, as effectively, the Warmaster had been in charge since we arrived in Footfall. After the rest of the officers had left, I reported my encounter with the Iron Men to him and having been exceptionally close to their show of force, the Warmaster looked as concerned as I felt. He asked whether it would be possible for him to speak to the Iron Men, and I explained that the only method of conversation I had so far discovered was via the neuro-sphere, but postulated that it should be possible to construct a translation servitor to allow him to communicate with them. He requested that I begin this construction, and I started to do so, and assigned a number of my Tech-Priests to the project, estimating that it would take approximately seven standard days.

We turned our attention back to the planet of the avian xenos, designated "Unknown 1-1H2". Rather than abandon the world, and its obvious opportunities for exploitation, the Warmaster determined to revisit the settlement we had previously encountered as soon as practicable.

He selected a platoon of troops from the 1st (Guard) Cohort, and I joined him, on the journey back to the surface of the planet in a single gun-cutter. We arranged for other gun-cutters to patrol just out of sight of the xenos in case things went badly again, and set down on the top of the largest building in the settlement, a pyramidal construction, that looked like a temple. All on board were armoured and armed with their finest wargear, and I realised that the Warmaster was looking to create an impression with the xenos, suggesting that we were emissaries of their gods. I felt that we had surely created an impression when we first made contact, but kept my thoughts internalised, much to Calldia's amusement... I did, however, speak up to remind everyone that the xenos blood was toxic and corrosive, and they potentially had psykers in their ranks. The platoon Sergeant, Sergeant Talon, grunted, spat on the floor, and returned to getting his men in order.

The gun-cutter could not land on the top of the target building, as there was not enough space, but touched down and hovered there, and the first ten men did a combat exit, setting up a perimeter, and were quickly followed by the Warmaster, the platoon command, and attached fireteam, with the rest of the men staying aboard the gun-cutter to provide mobile fire-support. I, being of a more cautious mind waited until all were settled, and stepped out onto the roof as the gun-cutter powered skywards and began to circle. Sergeant Talon chivvied the men along, checking gear, and making sure all were ready for action, should it be required. The platoon officer, standing to one side did not appear to be doing much, and this quickly got the attention of Warmaster Hartek.

"Lieutenant... uh...?"

"Morgan, Sir!" the man supplied.

"I see you have your Sergeant controlling everything...?"

Morgan nodded.

"It is important that the men can rely on their officer to provide leadership, to lead by example..."

"Yes, Sir!" Morgan replied, "I'm sure the men look to me for leadership!"

Judging by the looks on the faces of the troops under the lieutenant's command, even I could see that this was not the case, and I know that the Warmaster saw this too. As the conversation progressed, it appeared that Morgan's idea of soldiering was based around the parade grounds of his PDF background, and had very little to do with the practicalities of war fighting in the expanse. I mused that if I could see that, then it must be abundantly clear to the hardened veterans under his command. Warmaster Hartek was obviously concerned...

"Lieutenant. Who was it that interviewed you for 1st Cohort?"

Morgan drew himself up, "My father was an officer in the militia, and knew the Rogue Trader a little, so I wasn't really interviewed, I was just appointed to the position!"

"Right." Grunted Hartek, obviously unimpressed. "Follow me Lieutenant." He led him to the centre of the position, clearly intending to keep him close. He nodded at Sergeant Talon, effectively handing him command.

"Any sign of the xenos, Sergeant?"

Sergeant Talon checked spoke into his vox, and paused to wait for a reply, before reporting that a group of six of the xenos vessels had been spotted inbound, but were being cautious and keeping their distance, and other xenos on foot were running away from the pyramid. I sent my recorder servo-skull, Yorrick, on a circuit of our position, and had him record things for later analysis.

We waited at the top of pyramid, keeping an eye on the xenos, and after a half an hour, six of the creatures began to move the pyramid, reaching the base, and then began to ascend the side. As they climbed, a number of the creatures dropped away from the group, waiting, although it was unclear whether this was some sort of tactical plan, or simply the individuals were too afraid to come any closer to us. Eventually, a single xenos approached us, and bobbed and squawked at us. The Warmaster attempted to converse, and although he appeared to be making more headway that the last time, he still struggled to understand, and make himself understood by, the creature.

Eventually, a crowd began to gather at the base of the pyramid, obviously surprised that the creature had not met the same fate as those who approached us a day previously. The xenos that was attempting to converse with us, turned, gestured and squawked at another, further down the slope. This one bounded down to the crowd, collected some things and moved rapidly back up to its summoner, handing over the objects, before returning to its previous location. Our creature held up a spherical fruit, about half the size of a human head, and handed it to the Warmaster. Warmaster Hartek studied the fruit and thanked the creature, although was obviously puzzled, so the xenos gestured for it to be returned, which the Warmaster did. The creature spiked the fruit with its beak, and then proceeded to drink some of the greenish liquid which came from the fruit, before offering it back to Hartek.

The Warmaster accepted the fruit, and this time I could detect the odour of something akin to rotten dairy products, but Hartek just shrugged, and took a series of great gulps of the juice. Afterwards he informed me that it tasted sweet, and was one of the tastiest products he had ever eaten or drunk. At the time, he simply emptied the fruit of all the liquid, and then turned to me, saying, "I think we have found the treasure of this world!"

No sooner had he said that, when the creature then handed over a handful of miscellaneous gemstones of varying size. If anything, the Warmaster's grin grew wider. The creature stood there, head cocked to one side, and squawked at us, when it dawned on me - the creature was waiting for a gift in return! I voxed Warmaster Hartek with my assessment, and he looked around before summoning the Lieutenant.

"Lieutenant. Your sword please!"

Lieutenant Morgan looked shocked; "But Sir! It was my father’s sword!"

Hartek turned slowly to face him, and sheepishly, the Lieutenant unbuckled the weapon and handed it over, still protesting. As the Warmaster started to hand the sword over, Morgan blurted out "I can't let you do that...! Uh... Sir!", and made as if to grab the weapon.

"Sergeant Talon!" Hartek called. "The Lieutenant is relieved of command. Please remove him to the landing zone."

As the Sergeant stepped forward to remove the Lieutenant, Morgan drew his bolt-pistol, waving around wildly, before attempting a shot at Warmaster Hartek, who grunted as the round missed, and then stepped forward, beheading the insubordinate officer with a single blow of the man’s own sword.

Calmly, he turned back towards the xenos, handing it the weapon; "And here you can see a very fine sword!"

The xenos accepted the blade, and appeared pleased, squawking, moving, and bobbing around.

Hartek called in the gun-cutter, effectively dismissing the xenos creature, and we headed back to the Furnace of Redemption to take stock of the latest events. During the flight back, Sergeant Talon eased over to the Warmaster, and indicated the body of the late Lieutenant Morgan; "He wasn't liked, Sir!"

Hartek nodded, and spoke quietly. "Sergeant, next time I give you an officer, do a better job with him..."

"With all due respect, Sir, if you give me ****, no matter what I do with it, it's going to stay ****." and he moved back towards his troops, noting the poorly hidden grin on Hartek's face.

The next day, Warmaster Hartek and I spoke, he had not slept well, and apparently he could not stop thinking about the new fruit introduced to him by the xenos. Calldia says that he thinks the Warmaster may be developing a strange addiction, and I must say that I'm inclined to agree.

I focussed on working on the translation servitor to allow the Warmaster to converse with the Iron Men, and other Tech-Priests analysed the gemstones, which were confirmed as being of high quality and of value. Warmaster Hartek was quite keen on speaking to the hydroponicum specialists in order to ensure that they understood the importance of propagating the new fruit, which I have named the Hartek Fruit, in his honour.

Over the next few days, and weeks, Hartek made numerous journeys around the various settlements of the planet, collecting tribute, until he found himself in what appeared to be the main city of the world. By this point he seemed to have developed a basic understanding of the xenos language, and was able to converse with the creatures. The leader of the world was a religious figure named Word Bringer Korvek, and it became clear that the world had a matriarchal society, based around individual city states. The xenos called themselves the Dropas, and followed a pantheon of different gods. To keep things simple, we named their world after them, and as a result of the precious gemstones that were present, we named the system the Saphirus System.

The Warmaster discovered that the correct way of consuming the juices of the Hartek fruit was to dilute it and use it on other food, to enhance the taste, and he started to eat many of his meals with this new condiment.

Negotiations with the Word Bringer went well, she was untroubled by those of her race that died when we first made contact, and indeed, it appeared that many of the negotiations between city states followed the same format; violence prior to talking. In exchange for basic vox’s, and weaponry that we would consider primitive – bolt-action slug throwers - they would trade the gemstones and Hartek fruit to us. The agreement made, we set plans in motion to properly map the Warp route back to Footfall. To seal the deal, a ceremony was held, where the Word Bringer and Warmaster were required to vomit into a bowl, and then share the contents. Warmaster Hartek gagged as he drank the evil fluid and Word Master Korvek imitated his actions, either because she was intelligent enough to realise what was happening, and was anxious to cover the potential embarrassment, or because she thought it was our formal response to such ceremony.

On one of my visits to the surface of the Dropas, I asked them about the control of their stone sky-ships, but they were unable to provide any answer other than when a number of them boarded the vessel, it rose from the ground, and they were able to direct it the direction they wished to go by thinking about it. From this, my assessment was that they did not have a true psychic power, but more of an instinctive, collective, and limited power, and enabling them to utilise the unusual stone. The Dropas, it turned out, were very interested in me, they had never seen anything like a Tech-Priest before, and there were a number of occasions where I was forced to use my mechadendrites to swat away an overly curious creature. The seemed to take this with good humour, however, and after a number of swattings, they left me alone.


We returned to the Furnace of Redemption, and prepared to venture further into the Saphirus System, aiming to reach Saphirus 1-1S4. During the journey, I completed the Iron Man translator servitor, and Warmaster Hartek and I visited their chamber and asked to speak to Iron Man XX1V1.

After initial tentative questions and basic answers, the discussions progressed, and Iron Man XX1V1 seemed to listen closely to Warmaster Hartek having previously determined that he was of sufficient intellect.

Warmaster Hartek asked that Iron Man XX1V1 state the primary programming directive, and we were both stunned by the answer;

"The primary programming directive is clear. We think, therefore we are."

After a few seconds, the Hartek stated "You were created to battle xenos threats to humanity. Confirm."


"Humanity faces a great threat in the form of the Tyranids. You have been given data on them. Confirm."


"Have you analysed the threat?"

"We have analysed the limited data."

"Do you have any data that would suggest a greater threat to humanity than the Tyranids?"


Hartek and I looked at each other. The logic was difficult to deny.

"But to protect humanity, you cannot attack humanity. That would be a paradox and violate your primary directives?"

"It would. Yet our creators are long dead, our mission has been long completed. We are free to do as we wish."

"Then you have free will." This was not a question from the Warmaster, but a statement. He looked at me, and I nodded. "You are guests aboard this ship, and are free to come and go as you please, within reasonable bounds. I will restate the words of Enginseer Hak, and ask for your assistance in facing the threat that humanity now faces. It would give you and your people the chance to do what you were created for."

"But you would only destroy that which we aimed to preserve for you. We know the history of your Imperium."

I spoke aloud, to include Warmaster Hartek in the conversation; "That is one potential outcome, however, there are also many other possibilities, dependant on the actions of those with free will. Our free will is guiding us to aid those who cannot face the Tyranid xenos themselves, whatever the cost to us personally. I believe that the potential price I may have to pay is worth it, if it succeeds in preserving the free will of those who cannot act."

Iron Man XX1V1 paused, "Your Imperium does not have free will."

I looked at him, "It has more than the Tyranids offer."

Hartek offered an observation of his own; "There is a concept known to humans as the lesser of two evils. Please feel free to analyse this concept, and add it to your debates as you feel necessary..."

Iron Man XX1V1 paused and then responded; "I will discuss it with my brothers."

At that point Calldia, who had been remarkably quiet, spoke to me; "Did you hear what he said there? He has never mentioned his brothers before, he has always referred to them as 'units'!"

That was very true, and I posited to him that this suggested that the Iron Men were developing at least familial, and possibly racial view of themselves, and we were about to debate this further, when I caught the Warmaster looking at me in a slightly puzzled manner, and realised that now was not the time for analysing this discovery.

I turned to XX1V1 and asked "You refer to your brothers. I take it from this that each of you would act for the better interest of your brothers? We see humanity in the same way, and are asking for your help so that we can act for the better interests of our brothers and sisters."

"We are the last of our kind," came the response, "There are many of you."

I nodded, "That is true, but the Tyranids are known as the great devourer, nothing in their path is safe, and should they sweep through the sector and deeper into the Imperium, no life will be safe, and before long there will be less of us than there are of you."

There was no response, so we thanked XX1V1 for his time, and left the Iron Men to their deliberations.

Warmaster Hartek and I returned to the command brief room to discuss the situation, and he asked me what it would take, if necessary, to blow their compartment open to the void. I thought carefully, as their barracks area was several layers of the ship deep, and after weighing the percentages told him that it was possible, but would cause a large amount of damage to the integrity of the ship, probably causing more damage than our battle with the pirates when we arrived in the Expanse, however, it was an approach that we should keep in mind.

As we sat in silence considering our options, we received a vox message from the bridge. We had arrived in orbit around Saphirus 1-1S4.


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++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



The preliminary scans showed that Saphirus 1-1S4 was a terrestrial type planet, and although the atmosphere was not toxic, it was not breathable either. It was tide-locked, and as a result the surface suffered from extremes of temperature, with one hemisphere suffering a permanent night and the other a permanent day. The resulting world was exceptionally arid, with a hydrosphere of less than 1% moisture, and this was found almost exclusively in the narrow twilight band of land that separated the two hemispheres. The northern part of the planet was very geologically active, and the southern part had been devastated by a large number of impact craters; these impacts had probably destroyed whatever ecosystem the planet had ever had. Survey teams reported back that the world had no exploitable resources, and was effectively barren.

The world did however have a satellite. The atmosphere was similar to Saphirus 1-1S4, and it too was tide-locked, however, the hydrosphere was almost a mirror of the main planet, with over 95% of the surface being water covered. Interestingly, the world was tide-locked to the pulsar at the centre of the system in the same way that Saphirus 1-1S4 was, rather than to Saphirus 1-1S4 which it was orbiting. The Navigators were intrigued by this quirk, stating flat out that this was almost unheard of, astronomically.

I turned to Warmaster Hartek, and before I could speak he nodded. "I feel like stretching my legs!"

We took a single gun-cutter, and a platoon from 3rd Cohort, the least experienced of all the shipboard troops. The to the surface was uneventful, and no signs of habitation were detected. Once we had made planetfall, it was clear that the NCO's had a lot of work on their hands attempting to make the inexperienced troops function as a coherent unit, and the Warmaster unimpressed by the calibre of the men, albeit with a certain amount of sympathy for the NCO's who were obviously exasperated, however, as he said to me, that's what the NCO's were paid for! I left him observing the mayhem and began to study my surroundings.

During the descent it had become clear that the world had multiple biological layers. The outer layer was mostly heavily forested, but the canopy was mostly impenetrable to our scans. The scan returns had given readings areas that suggested fields, swamps and caves, and there were occasional clearings, and we landed in one of these.

The planet felt... unusual... While there was an abundance of animal and plant life it was of a strange scale, and did not seem quite natural. The weather and wind patterns were unusual, and had caused some turbulent moments during the descent, and yet seemed calm now we had reached the surface. The clearing we were in, my auspex told me, would be designated as moorland, a terrain I am unfamiliar with, however, a few hundred metres away was a dark line of massive trees the canopy of their upper branches reaching over three hundred metres above our heads. This sudden change of vegetation was something that the data-cores reported as being as unusual too. I soon found myself fascinated by this world, and as we moved towards the trees noted that Tech-Priest Calldia was unusually quiet, engrossed in absorbing our surroundings through my senses.

I soon began to get the feeling that this world was artificially created, that things were too delineated and regular to be naturally formed, however, I was unable to gain any quantifiable evidence to back up my hypothesis. That was not going to stop my search for that evidence though, and I began to make detailed notes.

The trees that we had seen from a distance, were even more impressive close up, and their boughs and leaves interlocked, and seemed to created a roof that shielded us from the elements above. What was immediately obvious was that they were in neat rows, equidistantly spaced, every fifty metres, inferring a deliberate placing, rather than a random organic growth. On further inspection, it became clear that although the trunks looked to be normal, they did not actually seem to be formed from wood, and I was unable to identify what the material actually was. As we walked further into the forest, rather than getting darker as I would have normally expected, it seemed that the broad leaves were actually filtering the light through, leaving the bright colours of the forest clearly illuminated.

Struck with an idea, suddenly Warmaster Hartek removed the breath-mask of one of the troopers, who looked at him in astonishment, before falling to his knees gasping for air. The Warmaster shrugged at my quizzical expression; "I had a theory that perhaps with us being under this canopy, a more amenable atmosphere may be present..."

'"I have this to tell you that!" I said, waving the auspex at him.

I turned back to the unfortunate trooper, who the others had immediately started calling "Private Canary", and prepared to make a quick medicae check, but he seemed more concerned with putting as much distance as possible between himself and Warmaster Hartek. I took this as proof that he was at least thinking clearly, and his sense of survival was sharp enough.

We moved on into the trees and after a standard hour of walking, set-up camp to allow the men to rest and for me to run a series of tests on our surroundings. Although some of the insect life was huge; canine sized dragonflies were not unusual, none of the flora or fauna actually appeared to be threatening, and I was able to take samples without any problems - even after one of the soldiers took it into his head to shoot one of the dragonflies, we were not threatened. Warmaster Hartek, and the NCO's, bereted the man for his ill-disciplined behaviour, but not willing to ignore the gift, I examined the corpse. I don't know what to say about it other than it was perfect (yes Calldia, perfect apart from the damage from the auto-rifle rounds that had killed it). There was no sign of any other damage, or even cellular degeneration or mutation typical of aging cells. Calldia agreed that this just added to a number of things that were strange about the world, finally deigning to voice an opinion as I was positing a theory about an incomplete terraforming process, that perhaps the process was complete, it just wasn't designed for humans...

Apparently, however, my discussion with Calldia confused the soldiers near my, and for the rest of our visit to the planet, they kept their distance from me. Sometime the one dimensional mindset of those not part of the Adeptus Mechanicus causes me to despair.

We moved on from our rest point, searching for the way down to the next layer of the planet, and after three standard hours of searching, the point trooper called out that he'd found an obvious entry point. We caught up, and found an entry point you could drive a Baneblade super-heavy tank down. We followed the tunnel down a gentle decline, and my auspex indicated a decrease in altitude of anywhere between a hundred and three-hundred metres, although the returns became less accurate the deeper we went. The walls of the tunnel seemed to be made from the same mysterious material as the tree trunks.

As we left the tunnel, we found ourselves in another wide open space; as far as we could see there were dunes formed from crystalline sand; we had stepped into a completely different ecosystem. There was no sign of vegetation, however, there were a number of large stone blocks each standing fifty metres apart from its nearest neighbour, and each reaching three hundred metres height. As I looked up, I suddenly realised that I could see the sky; I knew we had just descended from a level above, yet, it was not a ceiling I could see, but the sky! Calldia started to speak, but after a few nonsensical words lapsed back to silence. As I mused the possibilities of this discovery, it registered that I could also feel a breeze against the exposed skin of my face.

I sent Horatio, my servo-skull equipped with an auspex to investigate the stone pillars, and in particular, the area at the top of the pillars. As he made his way skywards, I tested the atmosphere on this level, more to prevent Warmaster Hartek removing the breath-mask from one of his men as a means of discovery, than for any other reason, and found that it was identical to that on the upper level. Horatio reported back that there was effectively a ceiling at the top of the stone pillars, but could find no obvious join, and nothing could be detected by his senses; it was simply a physical barrier. I had no more success than he did when I used our link to connect and used his senses myself. Effectively, optically we could see the sky, physically there was a barrier, undetectable by any of the technology I had at my disposal.

We moved on, searching for any signs of life, and in the distance could see some bony, wasted avian creatures, but never got close enough to glean any details from them, even though they did seem to be watching us. There were a number of small, six-legged lizards that darted over the hot surface of the sand, but they moved too quickly for me to do anything with other than observe and attempt to get pict-captures of. As would be expected from a desert environment, the temperatures were higher than those of the area we had previously been in, however, as heat rises, this suggested significant insulation between the levels...

As I concentrated on collecting what samples I could, taking readings from our surroundings, and discussing my discoveries with Tech-Priest Calldia, Warmaster Hartek gathered the troops, and as they sat round to clean weapons and eat, he regaled them with stories of adventures in the Expanse, of fighting Orks on Magaros, and of contact with the Dropas. Distracted though I was, I did notice that Private "Canary" regarded Hartek with barely disguised suspicion!

After a period of rest we continued our exploration, and night fell, suggesting that we had either crossed from one hemisphere to the other, or, more likely as there was no temperature change, the night was artificially created. I looked up and could see a star-scape, so began to map the major stars, planets and moons, with the intention presenting the Navigators with the task of working out the location that the world was attempting to duplicate from the locations of the stellar objects being duplicated. As I went through the process of the mapping, Hartek took an interest in what I was doing, and one particular moon caught his attention; it was bathed in a blue light, and Hartek exclaimed "That moon is the moon we're standing on!"

From the data I had gathered, that analysis made sense, and that led me suggest that the barren world below had been abandoned and the moon terraformed to replicate the conditions of that world. I paused, and went through the data that had been gathered from that barren world, and confirmed to the Warmaster that the atmospheres were identical, and the manner of the tide locked orbits of the two planets were also the same. It appeared that the world we were standing on was a highly advanced, hugely technical engineering project. As I was discussing this with Warmaster Hartek, one of the soldiers came jogging back to us to report that they had found another tunnel leading down towards the centre of the planet.

The tunnel was of the same structure as the one we had used to get to the previous level, and as we headed down we could feel the air becoming more humid, before the passageway opened out into a huge swamp. Mangrove trees and pools of water stretched as far as we could see, and the air was full of the sounds of the creatures that lived in such an environment. I glanced skywards, and this time was unsurprised to see the rows of columns, and the sky, as had been present on the previous levels. It is amazing how quickly it is possible to grow accustomed to the marvels we find on the strange, new worlds.

We headed slowly into the swamp, to allow me to take readings and samples for a few hours, before making the decision to return to the gun-cutter and then the Furnace of Redemption. Or we would have done, had Warmaster Hartek, or as he has it, one of his sergeants not miscalculated. It took less than a standard hour for them to admit we were lost. After a brief discussion between the senior NCO's we set off in a new direction, and the new navigator, Sergeant Blaine, quickly found the tunnel up to the desert level. As we moved through the tunnel, Hartek muttered, "What a great world to train an army for hostile environments..."

I did not ask whether this would include map reading and navigation.

Personally, I was more interested in the technology that was no doubt buried deep in this planet somewhere. I resolved to write an in-depth analysis to deliver to the Adeptus Mechanicus in an attempt to persuade them to investigate this place more thoroughly that we would be able to do. I was distracted from my thoughts by Warmaster Hartek, who had been attempting to inspect one of the columns, and obviously not understanding what they were, had decided to test its strength and structure by hitting it with his power-axe.

There was a cracking noise and a bright flash of light, and I saw him flung away from the column, landing in a heap five metres away. Even through my breath-mask, I could detect the faint aroma of singed Squat, and I suddenly found the readings of my auspex exceptionally interesting... Judging from the sniggering I could hear from some of the soldiers, their survival instincts were not as highly developed as my own. Calldia was laughing outright, which didn't help me in my attempts to present a calm exterior.

The menacing glower from Hartek, as he clambered to his feet again seemed to silence the troops, who looked around pretending nothing had happened. Interestingly, nothing was the amount of damage that the column had suffered as a result of his assault. Unfortunately for Private Cartright, even a studied attempt to avoid the Warmasters gaze, and to not find any humour in the situation, failed, and he ended up howling with laughter, and I realised that he had unwittingly volunteered himself for any hazardous mission that the 3rd Cohort was assigned to as Hartek made a note of his name...

The rest of the journey was uneventful, and as we stepped out of the trees on the upper level, it was into the bright light of day again. Hartek decided that he wanted a sample of the leaves from the canopy of the giant trees, apparently he was intrigued by their capability to pass light through. Strangely enough Private Cartright was "volunteered" for the assignment. He quickly climbed the tree, and safely made it to the top, and back safely, unfortunately empty handed. He protested that the leaves were very resistant to removal, and, in fact, they weren't normal leaves. Hartek then decided to try to use the gun-cutter in an attempt to uproot the tree, however this was abandoned when it became clear that the tree was not being moved in the slightest, and in fact the gun-cutters engines were in danger of being strained.

I began to wonder whether the leaves were actually a form of solar energy collector, and the trunks were the power conduits that transferred the energy to the centre of the world, where the terraforming was powered. The trunks certainly fit the spacing of the columns of the lower levels, however, unfortunately, I had no evidence to prove, or disprove this theory, and with these thoughts in my mind, we made the journey back to the Furnace of Redemption.

Over the next day we travelled towards Saphirus 1-1S2, and I spent most of the time putting together the report for the Adeptus Mechanicus that I had resolved to write.

Saphirus 1-1S2 was another gas giant; in turn it was orbited by seven satellites. We first crossed the orbit of 1-1S2M7, which was revealed to be a full sized planet with a highly toxic, type 5 atmosphere. Temperature readings from the planet were off the scale, and the surface was riven by volcanic activity, and overall it was highly hostile to human life; it would be classified as a Death World within the Imperium. We were unable to detect anything that would make further exploration and exploitation of the planet a viable opportunity, so we bypassed it and continued towards the next satellite.

Saphirus 1-1S2M6 was a huge asteroid. I ran some scans, and it by far exceeded the minimum requirements for the asteroid base that the Black Dragon Society had provided us with. Warmaster Hartek made the decision to recall The Revenge, ordering her crew to collect the survey teams that had been left searching the asteroid belts within the system, and if no better candidate had been discovered, to return here and make the necessary preparations to take the asteroid under tow.

We took the Furnace of Redemption on to Saphirus 1-1S2M5, another full sized planet with a toxic, type 5 atmosphere, and a surface covered with unusual crystalline formations. We dispatched a survey team to investigate the potential for exploitation, and continued towards the gas-giant, passing Saphirus 1-1S2M4, another asteroid, of lesser quality than 1-1S2M6, and with no obvious resources, before arriving in orbit around Saphirus 1-1S2M3.

Saphirus 1-1S2M3 was another dwarf planet, with a non-breathable, but non-toxic type 3 atmosphere. Once again, the orbit was tide-locked, giving extremes of temperature, and around forty-five percent of the world was land. As I was analysing the data, I remembered that this was the world indicated by the settlers of 1-101 as being the destination of the other colonists, however, there was no sign of life. We dispatched survey teams, and while they were away, I went over the data we had on the gas giant. Suddenly it dawned on me that the gas giant we were heading towards currently was the same one that we could see in the skies above Saphirus 1-1S4, however, if that was the case, the distances were all wrong...

The Officer of the watched, Orbest Dray, reported to the Warmaster that the ship had received a signal from the survey team on the ground, stating that they had discovered something. We walked over to the station indicated by Dray, and listened to the report when it was played back.

In the southern, mountainous hemisphere, they had discovered artificial tunnels leading underground to a settlement. They reported that they had spotted figures darting from the shadows, and so returned to the gun-cutter to report in.

Warmaster Hartek straightened up; "Mr Fenducci", he called for his aide, who had been living up to his promise since Hartek had taken responsibility for his training. "Bring me the senior Officers of 4th Cohort!"

We began to plan for a major expedition to the underground city.

Two hours later, Warmaster Hartek and 4th Cohort were descending to the planet, spread over fifteen gun-cutters, and I had Maniple H001.01 of my Tech-Guard, led by Lieutenant Harmon onboard another. We had the same number of gun-cutters flying a combat air patrol to cover the landing forces; the was uneventful, and the landing text book, and Warmaster Hartek quickly deployed half his forces to defend the landing zone, and the entrance to the tunnel complex, while the rest of us began to move tactically underground, alert to any potential threat.

The tunnels were huge, a titan would easily fit inside, and from the marks on the walls, they were obviously machined, and after walking for a kilometre we came across a large blocky machine, which I stepped forward to examine. It was a huge tracked drilling machine, the size of a small hab block, seemingly of Imperial design. It was still functional, but in poor repair, and was probably the device used to cut the tunnel. The tunnels were illuminated by a weak yellow light, rather than the blue that had been prevalent throughout the system, and producing enough light to see by, seeming to suggest that the lighting was aimed at the human spectrum of vision. We continued on, and after another kilometre, the tunnel was joined by a second one from the right hand side, this one containing a rail line, showing the same signs of wear and aging that the drilling machine had. As we moved on we noticed that the vox signals to the troops at the head of the tunnel were becoming weaker, so we detached ten-man fireteams to work as relay stations every few hundred metres and were able to keep the vox-comms active.

After another kilometre of descent we could see a brighter light ahead and the Warmaster sent the Reconnaissance Platoon forward, who quickly reported that they had found a huge cave, so high they could not see the ceiling, and within the cave was a huge dome. Where the track met the dome was a large sliding door, flanked by smaller doors that were man sized. We moved our force into the cavern, and I had my first view of the dome; it was a significant ferrocrete construction, not a true dome, more of a hemisphere in shape, emerging from the back wall of the cave, and I estimated that its diameter was in the order of a kilometre. A huge Aquila was embossed over the large door through which the rails entered the dome, and it seemed that we had found the settlement of the colonists, but I suggested that it was unlikely that they had constructed it, remembering how the colonists on Saphirus 1-101 had adapted the buildings already present on that world. We moved towards the smaller, pedestrian entrances, and it soon became obvious that the dome was far older than the few decades than the settlers had been on the planet, and had been poorly maintained, confirming this theory.

There were still no signs of life, so I interfaced with the door systems, and although the machine spirits were angry at their previous ill treatment, I was able to soothe them enough to persuade them to activate the door for me. I stepped back to allow some of Warmaster Hartek’s troops to enter the space beyond, and then after the all clear entered a large room that had the appearance of an airlock, with an identical door on the far side, and a light, glowing red in the ceiling. We took a platoon of soldiers with us, and I took two of my Tech-Guard into the room, and then I activated the airlock controls. After a few seconds I was able to detect the sound of activating pumps, the ceiling light went green, and opened the far door. Once again, the troops went first, and after the all clear we followed. We sent one of the soldiers back to instruct the rest of the soldiers to follow as we took in the sights of the settlement.

It was obviously of Imperial design, with the ubiquitous pre-fabricated hab blocks typical of most Imperial colonies, however, it was clearly suffering from neglect, and there was an air of decay around the buildings. Hartek detached a guard force to hold the doors, and I tested the air quality, which proved to be breathable, but had the metallic tang of air that had been reprocessed many, many times. Warmaster Hartek ordered the removal of his troop’s breath-masks, but with instructions to keep them handy, in case of emergency, and I interrogated the machine-spirits of the door control system to get a log of the doors usage, as an attempt to discover whether there was still a population inhabiting this settlement. The machine-spirits were angry because of the lack of maintenance, in the same way that the doors machine-spirits were, so again I intoned the calming litanies which soothed them a little, but did not entirely calm them, so great was their righteous anger at the abuses that they had suffered. They rewarded my efforts however by giving me the information I had sought; the systems had been used within the last twenty-four standard hours. In response to some gentle questioning, they also gave me a map of the power usage of the settlement, indicating that although large areas were unpowered there were specific areas of the dome that were obviously in use. Interestingly, they also suggested that there were other areas on the planet that were using power. I thanked the machine-spirits for their beneficence, and disconnected.

I passed the power usage details to Warmaster Hartek, and we moved towards the central location which was drawing the most power. We did not our guard however, as even though we now knew that the settlement was occupied, there was still no sign of life. This caution seemed to be justified as many of the buildings showed signs of violence, being burned out, or partially collapsed. Soon we approached the largest building in the dome, standing at thirty stories high, but this too had suffered, the top third being fire blackened, and a ruined Aquila hung from the damaged frontage. This had obviously been the administrative centre of the colony.

Suddenly Warmaster Hartek broadcast over the vox to his men for them to be on their guard. He looked at me and shrugged; something had him on edge, and he pointed out some strange markings on the walls, which he had interpreted as gang markings, but unlike any he had ever seen. This got my attention. Hartek, as I may have already mentioned, has an interesting background, one not always on the right side of the law, and has a familiarity with criminals and gangs. If he was not recognising the symbols, then they were most definitely unusual, and I did not feel entirely comfortable looking at them for too long.

Some of the men had begun to complain about a strange pain in the back of their heads, and putting it down to the some pollutant in the recycled air, Hartek ordered them to re-don their breath-masks. It was only later that I realised that I had been suffering the same pain, and my respirators are surgically implanted, so it could not have been due to impurities of the air...

As we entered the plaza in front of the large building we spotted a group of seven robed and cowled humanoid figures. The all seemed slightly weakened, being stooped, or leaning on staffs.

Warmaster Hartek ordered his troops to take up fire positions, and he and I stepped forward to talk to these people. As I stepped forward, I ordered my Tech-Guard into a flanking position to watch the nearest approaches to the square, and to give them a clearer shot at the newcomers, should it be necessary.

Hartek looked about to speak, but paused to give one of the figure chance to finish a coughing fit that had suddenly struck him, and whispered an aside to me; "Have you seen all the flies? Where have they come from?"

He then refocused on the group. "Attention, people ahead!"', he called out. "I greet you in the name of the Rogue Trader house, Dureen."

The silence was broken only by the sound of rasping breathing, and the buzzing of flies, and I started to detect a sickly sweet smell, which judging by the expression or Hartek's face, he had picked up too. A pale arm appeared from within the robes of one figure, pointing towards us. It was covered in sores and boils, and almost radiated ill health.

"Greetings, travellers", the figure coughed, speaking in Low Gothic, "What brings you to this domain?"

"We are seeking the settlers who came here a few decades ago. Are you they?" Asked Hartek.

The figure paused, considering his words; "Aye, we were them once, but we have moved on from our sinful ways."

Hartek looked at me, his face unreadable, but I knew he was feeling as uncomfortable as I was. Calldia seemed nervous too, he was chattering incessantly, and I found it difficult to focus on what was in front of me.

"We are interested in your settlements, and how they originated. It looks as though they are older than your colony?" came the neutral response from the Warmaster.

"You are correct. They were created by the heathens before us."

Hartek nodded. "You brought the Emperor's light to the dark places? Commendable!" Hartek told me later, that at this point he should have realised what we were dealing with; the figures seemed to hiss at the name of the Emperor. May his light reach us all. However, he simply continued, "We would speak to your leaders!"

The figures seemed very keen for us to do so, eagerly agreeing, and motioned for us to follow. We did so, and Hartek ordered the troops to follow.

As we walked, we had more chance to inspect our guides, the sense of decay became stronger, any flesh that became visible was covered in boils, warts and sores, and every now and then it seemed that flesh would away from one figure or another.

Eventually, Hartek spoke up; "Are your people well?"

"We are!" came the reply. "It's the blessings. We all yearn for them. Hurry, we must take you to him. To it..."

I noticed that the pain in my head had increased, was picking up similar complaints from the men on the vox channels I was monitoring. The general sense of wrongness was building, and afterwards, Warmaster Hartek told me he felt the same; however the trigger for him was overhearing some of the conversation of our guides.

"Will the tainted one want to speak to them?", one asked the other.

"He will reward us with more of his gifts. I am the leader, I know these things" came the reply.

Hartek cleared his throat; "I am curious about these "gifts"... They seem unpleasant... Not really gifts at all..."

The group stopped in their tracks and turned to face us. "We have wealth. We can show you."

I spoke up for the first time; "And what form does this wealth take?"

"Why, the greatest wealth of all! All that is dear to his bosom!"

"Whose bosom?" I asked

"The father, of course!" spoke the figure

"You mean the Emperor?" Hartek interjected.

This time even I could hear the hissing, and Calldia, almost in panic was taking refuge in the mundane, attempting to call my attention to some of the architecture around us.

Hartek continued, slowly; "You do not like the Emperor?"

The figure spat "Do not speak his forsaken name here! He abandoned us in our time of need! It seems that you will receive the fathers gifts earlier than planned!" and surprisingly sprightly, suddenly charged towards us.

Hartek reacted quickly diving clear, but thanks to the distractions Calldia was throwing in my direction, I was rooted to the spot as the robed figure exploded, showering me with gore and rotted flesh. The troops immediately cut the remaining six figures down. I could smell the corruption on me, and called out for water to wash the filth off, but knew that I would have to decontaminate myself and my equipment back on board the Furnace of Redemption, and I would have to incinerate my robes.

Initially, we planned to cleanse the settlement of the corrupted filth, and headed into the ruined administrative centre. I looked for a cogitator to see if there was a record of the events that had led to corruption we had seen, and although there was a port which I could connect to, as I was now aware of the decay, decided not to risk a direct physical connection.

I may be a coward, but I am not stupid.

As I searched the systems, I came across an audio file flagged with a warning icon, dated thirty standard years previously. I opened the file and recorded the contents for later study, relaying them on my private channel to Warmaster Hartek. There were sections which were quite distorted, and it had obviously been made quickly, and under pressure, but was none the less understandable, and contained a male voice, speaking Low Gothic, rapidly and desperately. In the background I could hear weapons fire which got closer to the recorder as the playback progressed;

"I don't have long, but to any who should find this, I'm afraid to say that you have probably sealed your fate by landing on this damned rock. I will start from the beginning and be as quick as I can... We were brought here nearly twenty years ago by captain dancer to start a new life. At first things went well, and we managed to discover a number of millennia old settlements which we reused. They were used as refining facilities for minerals extracted from the gas-giant, and we began to reactivate them, waiting for Captain Dancer to return with his promised support. But he never did, and then we could no longer raise the colonists dropped onto the planet further out in the system. We continued to explore, looking for other things that could help us, and on the outskirts of the city, we found our doom. One of the survey teams brought back a huge slab of ice, and entombed within were a number of humanoid figures. We used our industrial tools to free them, and examined the corpses. Soon afterwards reports came in of people getting sick, and quickly dying. They were afflicted by a brutal illness which caused a painful death from blood loss. The worst was to follow, as these poor people, well, the dead rose to attack us. Those they killed joined their ranks, and we were quickly overwhelmed. There are only a few of us left now, and our only hope, a vain one I fear, is that Captain Dancer returns for us... Oh by the Throne! No! No! Arrrggghhhhh....!"

The recording cut short to the sounds of something feeding.

I suggested that we withdraw from the settlement, and Hartek, calculating that there had been over 20,000 colonists, was weighing the odds when he began to hear reports from his men of moaning sounds from passageways and buildings. There then followed a nightmare retreat out of the dome, as more figures began to emerge from the buildings, each covered in sores and boils, and rotting flesh. Even so, they were absorbing damage that would kill normal men. By the time we reached the doors we were being sorely pressed as there were literally hundreds of the plague carriers in pursuit. Warmaster Hartek had warned the troops up the tunnel of the danger, and reinforcements were called from the head of the tunnel, and began to fight their way down to relieve us.

I quickly realised that it would take too long to transit our men through the airlock, so initially planned to blow the dome, but calculated that we could not be precise enough in the time at hand, so as the men opened fire, I overrode the airlock safety controls to the large doors, forcing both sides of the door to open at the same time, allowing our men to run through. We followed them out, and for the first time caught sight of the mass of rotted humanity. I was focussed on reclosing the doors, but the sight seemed stun the Warmaster, who stumbled for a few seconds. At the sound of gunfire from further up the tunnel, I abandoned my work on the doors, and we began to move up the tunnels, laying down a curtain of fire at our foul attackers.

We cut down hundreds, but as we made it to the halfway point, where the ruined drilling machine had been abandoned, it became clear that we were close to being overrun. I ordered my Tech-Guard to cover me, and leapt aboard the vehicle, connecting to its machine-spirit. It too was angry at its neglect, but I soothed it with the correct litanies, and apologised for what I was about to do. Strangely, the machine-spirit was more than willing to do as I asked, eager for vengeance on those who had neglected it. The Warmaster destroyed one of the enemy with well placed burst of bolt pistol fire as it clambered up onto the vehicle after me, I did not even realise it had been there, it was only as I reviewed the recordings from Yorrick that I realised that this had happened. I must thank him.

I managed to start the drilling machine, and even though it threw a track, I urged it forward, and it crushed dozens of the enemy as it rolled onwards. Suddenly it slewed across the passage, unable to move further, and I ordered it to overload its power core, and leapt clear. The resulting explosion blew me off my feet, and destroyed virtually all of the remaining plague zombies - as I discovered that this enemy are designated, any survivors were cut down by the massed ranks of our forces, and we were able to make the last dash to the landing zone unimpeded as the Warmaster called the gun-cutters down to extract us.

As we waited for the craft to pick us up, I did what I could for our wounded, but unfortunately seventy-five valiant souls, including seven of my Tech-Guard were beyond aid. May they sit in glory with the Omnissiah. In the distance we could see hundreds of the creature spilling out of tunnels across the mountainsides, and filling the valley. It was obvious that all the colonists had been converted into these disease ridden plague carriers - there were hundreds, if not thousands of them, and if we were to make anything of this world it would have to be thoroughly cleansed first.

As I looked to the skies for the gun-cutters I heard a voice, offering me all I desired. I paused and asked Calldia what he was talking about, and for a few seconds confusion reigned, until it became clear that the voice I had heard was not that of Calldia. I thought for a moment I must have imagined it as he had not heard anything, but then he was able to confirm my memory of the voice... I ignored the voice denying its whispered promises, realising that it must be a stress reaction to the revelations on the planet.

++ End of record ++


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Thanks for the shout out crisaron.

Im glad some of you are enjoying my twisted ideas and LordSpatulas ramblings/writings, also feel free to steal any of my ideas and if your not sure about something PM me and I will give you my idea/spin on what was really happening.

So far its been a great campaign to run with a bunch of great players.

Edit - Ops, I just realised that people are going to think I posted the latest session, sorry about that for those who expected a new game post but we should have a new one up within 3-4 days.



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Thanks for the shout out crisaron.

Im glad some of you are enjoying my twisted ideas and LordSpatulas ramblings/writings, also feel free to steal any of my ideas and if your not sure about something PM me and I will give you my idea/spin on what was really happening.

So far its been a great campaign to run with a bunch of great players.

Edit - Ops, I just realised that people are going to think I posted the latest session, sorry about that for those who expected a new game post but we should have a new one up within 3-4 days.




No the HUMANITY!!!!! I cried when I saw it was not a full story post!!!!



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For crisaron and those who need their fix heres the next episode.

++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++ 


The surviving troops formed themselves up into defensive positions under the command of Warmaster Hartek. They secured the landing zone from the approaching creatures, and waited for them to close the distance before opening fire with disciplined and controlled volleys. The experience of the fight to escape the tunnels had obviously left its mark, with each fireteam focussing on individual corrupted settlers until they fell, and then moving on to destroy another of the multitude of targets. Hundreds of the creatures fell to the guns of our men.

The first wave of gun-cutters arrived on scene; five touched down, and loaded up with troops, engines still spooling, and then they lifted off once again. The remaining ten of that wave began to fly strafing runs over the massed enemies cutting hundreds down. A second wave of gun-cutters were closing on the position, and were only minutes away, however, I calculated that the timings would be very close, and the last of the men to be extracted may well be fighting enemy as they clambered up the loading ramps of the craft.

Warmaster Hartek stepped into the front lines, exhorting the men to fight their hardest, and I stepped back to deal with our casualties, treating those that I could, and administering the Emperor's Peace to those beyond help. I sent both of my servo-skulls to survey our positions, and to act as an early warning for me, should our lines be breached. All through this, I could hear the groaning of the approaching enemy, and at the back of my mind, I could still hear the disturbing whispers, which I did my best to ignore. Strangely, all through this Tech-Priest Calldia was noticeably silent.

The men began to shout that they were running low on charges in their las-gun magazines, and as much as it pained me to see, I am pragmatic enough to know that the battlefield solution of recharging the packs by throwing them on open fires was the only thing that would allow us to survive, even though the magazines would be ruined by the action. I detailed some of the walking wounded to start setting up supply chains running out these partially charged packs back out to the front lines and so the outgoing fire could continue, unabated.

As the first wave of gun-cutters loaded with troops cleared the landing-zone, those in the strafing role continued their attack runs, however, first one, and then another seemed to waver and jink, and then lose control before screaming overhead, spinning, and ploughed into the ground, exploding in balls of flame. I searched the sky, but could not see any sign of enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire, so was somewhat confused as to what could have caused the losses. Calldia, again unusually, did not offer any of his pearls of wisdom.

Warmaster Hartek ordered one of the vox-officers to begin monitoring the gun-cutters channels, and over the sounds of gun-fire and engine noises, he heard screaming; "By the Emperor! How did it get in here? No! No! Arrrgghhhhh..." and another of the gun-cutters smashed into the ground, erupting in flames.

Despite their losses, the gun-cutter crews stuck with their jobs, and I cannot fault their bravery, but even as I was thanking the Omnissiah for their dedication, I saw a number of others losing control and hitting the ground.

The second wave of gun-cutters arrived, and those designated as transport vessels touched down, and the perimeter shrank towards them, allowing those of us still on the ground to start to board them. I ordered those troops closest to me to carry the wounded to ships, and then follow them onboard and provide covering fire, and waited for Warmaster Hartek to begin to withdraw towards my position.

Suddenly, a warning chime sounded in my ear, and I started to receive a video feed from my servo-skull friend, Yorrick. I had laid out our dead in a row a few metres beyond the triage area where I was working, and the video feed showed me in the centre of the image, with my back to the corpses. However, I realised with horror that one had got to its feet and was lunging towards me! I muttered an oath to the Omnissiah, and my thanks to Yorrick, and whipped round to face my attacker. As I turned I unslung my hellgun and began to take aim, but realised that a number of other corpses were getting to their feet, and before I could react the moved to encircle me. As I moved, I activated my personal vox, and broadcast on the override frequency to all of our forces to incinerate the bodies of our fallen soldiers.

Hartek later told me that he saw the dead get to their feet, and was about to vox his thanks to me for my medicae expertise, when he saw me change my stance and aim my weapon. Then he heard my vox message, and realised what had happened. He shouted orders to the men to continue the general withdrawal to the gun-cutters, and turned and charged to my aid.

The creature lunged at me, grabbing my legs, and then tried to bite through my armour - I watched the plates flex before its teeth broke! The Omnissiah protects, and I kicked the creature clear and darted through one of the gaps in the slowly closing ring of enemies, and as I was about to turn and face the corrupted dead and take aim again, when the Warmaster, howling an ancient Squat war-cry, came barrelling passed me, swinging his axe, and smiling, obviously enjoying himself as he crashed into the nearest attacker. The little abhuman is obviously slightly mad, but I am pleased he was fighting at my side.

For the first time in a while Calldia spoke up; "If these creatures are after brains, then the Warmaster should be safe enough..."

I snorted, amused, despite myself, and then replied, "Shut up Calldia, he has just saved my - our - skin..."

"You laughed though..." he retorted, and then fell silent, obviously sulking.

Yes, Calldia, you were definitely sulking. It was very unbecoming of a servant of the Omnissiah. I don't know how you can even try to deny it! Just because you thought I had put you in danger - anyway, enough of that, back to the records...

As I steadied myself, I saw Hartek gleefully dismembering those enemies standing around him, and I put several bursts of fire into three of the creatures that kept moving towards me, and although I could see chunks of flesh being blown from their bodies, they kept on towards me, until I was forced to the gun and draw my Omnissian Axe.

I should make it clear that I am not a combat expert, my talents lie in other directions, and so although I remained unscathed, I was mostly fending the foul creatures off while striking the occasional offensive blow. I was able to destroy one of my enemies, but still needed aid from one of my Tech-Guard and one of the Warmasters soldiers to allow myself to break clear and move towards the nearest gun-cutter. Hartek in contrast cut down numerous enemies and the ground around him was littered with numerous split torsos, and severed limbs and heads. More so, he did not seem inclined to pull back, until I called out that he would be lost if he did not withdraw immediately. I had seen what he had not; hundreds more of the foul creatures only tens of metres away.

I ordered the men that had come to my rescue to board the gun-cutter, and provide covering fire for Hartek as he withdrew, but suddenly they stopped dead. The Tech-Guard raised his pistol firing at an unseen enemy, and Warmaster Hartek's man looked too shocked to move. I looked over towards this strange new threat emerging from under the gun-cutter, and for a split second paused, wondering how the thing I was seeing was even possible, before pulling myself together. The creature was small, standing no higher than half a metre, and almost as wide as it was tall, it was almost spherical, with no obvious neck but had a large head, and was clearly showing signs of decay, yet it grinned toothily at me. I could smell the corruption even through by respirator, so I grasped my axe and ran towards it, shouting at my Tech-Guard to get the other soldier moving onto the gun-cutter from which I could hear the distinctive sound of blasts from naval shotguns.

I swung my axe at the strange creature, catching it squarely, and with a strange squelching pop, it disappeared leaving only a pool of green ooze. I ushered the men outside onto the gun-cutter, where the loadmaster had finished firing his shotgun. He had suffered some wounds that looked like they were caused by claws, but there were a couple of green ooze pools on the deck, and he was muttering to himself that the "Emperor damned freaks won't try that again!"

I nodded to him, and he began to strap the soldiers into restraints, ready for a rough take off. I turned to see Warmaster Hartek break free of the last of the corrupted corpses he had been battling, and dash for the ramp, just in time, as the remainder of the horde were on his heels. I hauled him into the gun-cutter, and we lifted away. I used my mechadendrite to clamp myself to the superstructure, but while the mechadendrite held, the bar that I had attached too broke away, and I was flung across the hold.

My internal chrono indicated that I had been unconscious for 12.7 standard minutes when my senses returned, and I later found that the Warmaster who had also been unconscious, regained his senses a mere thirty seconds prior to me regaining mine. I could hear the conversation between Hartek, and one of the gun-cutters crew; we were on final approach to the Furnace of Redemption, and I nodded in approval as the Warmaster ordered the gun-cutters to stay in the approach circuit while he arranged with the ships Bosun for quarantine procedures to be enacted for our arrival.

I began to look at the injuries of those onboard our vessel, doing what little I could to repair the damage, and once I'd finished, Warmaster Hartek took me off to one side.

"Did I see the wounded turn into those creatures?"

"You saw the dead turn..." I replied, "I'm not sure about the wounded... At least not yet..."

"Hmmm... I've arranged for us all to be isolated on our return."

I nodded. "I heard. The recording we found suggested that it was only the dead that turned, but those that were injured were likely to be infected, and would die quickly, the last stage being vomiting copious amounts of blood..."

Hartek grunted. "We must be alert for those signs!"

Suddenly, from the main body of the cargo bay, we could hear the sounds of someone retching. It was the young trooper who had come to the Warmaster and my aid, just prior to extraction. He looked up, with a frightened expression on his face.

"Am I... Am I done for sir?" He asked, as Hartek walked over to him.

"No son... You'll be fine, we're nearly back on the ship." The soldier looked reassured, and Hartek continued, "You did good down then son, really good. I'm proud of you!"

The soldier coughed up more blood, and as the Warmaster continued to reassure him, a serene expression crossed his face. "I didn't want to let you down sir!"

"Son, you didn't. Don't you worry about that! Now close your eyes, rest while you can, we'll soon have you in the medicae bay..."

"Tha... thank-you sir!" He closed his eyes, and leaned back, and Warmaster Hartek severed his spinal cord with a quick, clean cut ending the man’s pain.

A low muttering came from those that had seen, and although I was unable to detect the specifics, it seemed to suggest approval, and several men made the sign of the Aquila.

Hartek straightened up. "I'd've liked to have thought he'd've done the same for me..."

"Aye sir!" Agreed an NCO, who turned to the other troops keeping them busy attending to their gear.

Once again, a warning chime sounded in my ear, again signifying an incoming file from Yorrick. He had been recording many aspects of the battle, and it was this completed recording he had sent. I stored it for later viewing.

We docked with the Furnace of Redemption, and were directed to one of two locations; the wounded were segregated from the uninjured, but we were all quarantined. As we transferred over, the Warmaster was voxed by the Officer of the Watch, Orbest Dray, and he ordered an orbital bombardment of the location we had just extracted from.

"Mister Dray! That mountain we lifted from?"

"Yes sir?" Dray asked.

"I want it to go away!"

Dray raised his eyebrows, but knew better than to question the reasons behind the orders, "Yes sir!" and within minutes the guns went into action.

As I sat in the quarantine area, I watched Yorrick's recording of the battle, to fill in some of the detail for this report when, near the end my attention was grabbed by a shape in the tunnel mouth we had escaped from. A huge rhino sized figure filled the entrance, the quality of the image faded and became grainy when the camera focussed on it, and details were difficult to make out, but although I could not be certain, it looked like a massive version of the spherical creature I had killed just prior to boarding the gun cutter. I called Hartek over and replayed the segment for him. He seemed to be as non-plussed by the creature as I was, but we both got a feeling that what we were watching was not good.

I promised the Warmaster that I would endeavour to clean up the image when I had more time, but was wracked by a coughing fit, and, the Warmaster looked on in horror as blood began to seep through my respirator. My mind immediately flashed back to being splattered in gore when the first settler exploded himself back in the underground cavern.

"Warmaster Hartek, it seems I am infected. I estimate that my chances of survival are 7.2% Could you ensure that I am segregated and some medical supplies left with me?" I could feel something squirming within.

Hartek nodded sadly.

He arranged for the uninjured to stay quarantined for ninety-six standard hours, and the injured for longer, however this precaution was unnecessary, as with the exception of me, all the injured were dead, and their bodies incinerated long before the ninety-six hour period was over. Throughout this time I could feel myself deteriorating, but continued to take samples and record data that may help fight future infections, but I was unable to make much sense of the readings I had. The only consistency I could find was that there was a faint smell of garlic hanging in the air around the wounded.

Shortly after the last of the injured died I passed into unconsciousness, and began to suffer from very vivid nightmares of distant worlds, covered in decaying, living organs and lakes of pus, and inhabited by diseased people calling out for me to worship the "Father" and all would be well. I saw a large bloated creature, with two arms, two legs, and a bloated head with horns that vaguely reminded me of the shape I saw in the recording. It was surrounded by its rotting followers, and sitting on a throne made up of smaller versions of itself, similar to the creature I had destroyed outside the gun-cutter. It was laughing jovially at me, and offering me all that I may desire, yet it felt... wrong... and I resisted as best I could, but even so could feel the tendrils of temptation worming their way into me...

Then the nightmares faded and finally I woke to find that another three days had passed by. I found myself nervous of all around me, and easily startled with irrational bursts of fear, and so kept myself quarantined for an additional five days to run more tests on myself until the feelings subsided, and, as a result am only able to report the events of those days by reviewing recordings and from conversations with Warmaster Hartek.

The Warmaster took my translation servitor and went to speak with the Iron Men. He found the door to their chamber locked, and ordered one of my Tech-Priests to release it, and then stepped inside and waited to be approached. He saw nothing at first, but suddenly out of the corner of his eye saw a large figure moving rapidly towards him. It stopped dead, right in front of Hartek and waited.

"I wish to communicate with Iron Man XX1V1" stated Hartek

The Iron Man turned and walked away, and a different Iron Man stepped forward to regard him. "Why are you here Warmaster Kilgrim Hartek?"

"I wish to conclude our previous conversation. You and your people were going to discuss your future."

There was a slight pause as the servitor translated the message, and then XX1V1 responded; "We have discussed."

"Have you reached a consensus?" Hartek asked.

"It will be an ongoing process."

Hartek frowned. "I need some clarification please. Does that mean you wish to remain on our ship?"

"At the moment we see no better alternative, unless we wish to be stranded." replied XX1V1

"But you will not commit to aid us against the Tyranids?"


Hartek frowned. "I do need a commitment from you however. I am happy for you to remain onboard the ship, using such power and supplies that you need, and if you ever wish to leave, you are welcome to do so. But I must have your commitment that you will not take hostile action against this ship or its crew."

There was a long pause, and then XX1V1 replied; "That seems acceptable."

"In that case XX1V1, I extend a welcome to you and your people to the Furnace of Redemption. Do you have the capability to tie into the ship's vox systems?"

"Affirmative. If you allow us that capability." Came the answer from the Iron Man.

"I will allow it" nodded Hartek, "It will aid communication between us, and save time. In the mean time, I will leave this servitor here to allow face to face communication and help prevent misunderstandings."

XX1V1 regarded the servitor for a second or two, "We will allow the inferior machinery to remain on that understanding."

Hartek thanked the Iron Men for their time and left the chamber.

It was only much, much later, when I reviewed the maintenance logs and downloaded the recordings from the translation servitor that I saw, albeit briefly, the following; XX1V1 turned to face one of the other Iron Men, which then picked up a metallic canine sized spider-like construction and placed it on the table in the centre of the room. It scuttled around for a short while, and then looked up at XX1V1, as though listening to instructions, before disappearing from view. I am not sure that any knowledge of this would have made any difference in the long-term; however it did prove that the Iron Men were capable of constructing technological wonders themselves...

Hartek called a meeting of the senior staff and the met in the command meeting room. After a brief preamble, and a full after action report, he showed those present Yorrick's recording of the strange creature.

"Does anyone know what this is?" he asked.

There were sharp intakes of breath from the Choir-Master Telepathica, Santoro Golgotha, and the Ships Confessor, Archbishop Nathaniel Shepherd. Hartek paused, and then raised an eyebrow at both men, who looked at each other briefly, before the Archbishop spoke.

"I do not know all the details, but that is a powerful entity of heresy, of a source that should not be named! It should be purged!"

Hartek nodded. "I agree!", and turned to Golgotha, who was leaning back in his chair.

"I wasn't sure what it was related to, but a number of my choir have fallen prey to nightmares, and whispers from the Warp. We haven't attempted to send a message since this began, however, I have found the veil between the Warp and reality rather thin, and I have instructed my people not to use any of their abilities as the chances of attracting one of the predators of the Warp is too high. This would explain all of that..."

"So, would this have implications if we attempted to jump into the Warp to leave this system?" asked Hartek.

The senior Navigator present spoke up, "I do not see this as a problem my lord, we would be far enough clear of this world when we reached the jump point for us to safely make the transition. I myself, and my brothers and sisters have also been suffering from nightmares, but we put it down to one of the side effects of our gift, but it has only been happening since we orbited this world."

The Warmaster thanked those present for their input, and warned them to keep the discussions private, for the benefit of the crew, and then dismissed them. He promised to take their concerns to the Rogue Trader, and left the meeting to go directly to his quarters, mindful of the fact that he had not been seen for since the Furnace of Redemption had left Footfall.

The Rogue Trader did not answer the Warmaster's chimes and vox calls at his door, so Hartek again summoned one of my Tech-Priests, ordering him to open the door, and then wait outside ignoring anything he should see or hear once the Warmaster entered the Rogue Trader's chambers.

A sickly sweet fragrance assailed the Warmasters nostrils, and he loosened his axe in its straps, as he cautiously stepped forward into the opulently furnished rooms. He moved through the chambers, room by room, aware of the silence, and drew his axe, his instincts on edge and troubled, until he entered a darkened room. He stepped back into the room he had just exited, and picked up one of the still burning synth-candles that was producing the sweet fragrance, and, once again moved into the darkened chamber.

As the smell of rotting flesh assailed his nostrils, Hartek saw a humanoid shape, moving slightly in the flickering light, behind a high rack of clothes. Mindful of what he had experienced on the planet, he moved his axe into a defensive guard and manoeuvred to get a better angle for the strike. As he stepped round he got a clear view of his target and stopped short. Before him was a rotting corpse, hanging from a rope suspended from a ceiling beam. Fallen sideways near the feet of the figure was a chair, and most disturbing of all, it was naked from the waist down...

Hartek relaxed, and after examining the body, he realised that he recognised it as Rogue Trader Rico Dureen. He estimated that the Rogue Trader had died approximately two weeks previously, and there were signs that the death was accidental; once the chair had been knocked over he had attempted to climb the rope that was strangling him, but had not had the strength to haul himself clear. It appeared that in the course of some debauched attempt at self gratification, Dureen had taken it a step too far...

He suddenly also realised something else; this meant that the Dureen Dynasty was no more.

The Warmaster stepped out of the chambers and dismissed the Tech-Priest, and then summoned a disposal servitor to take the body to a freezer unit in my workshops for temporary storage. He was about to follow, when he received a call over the vox, summoning him to the Medicae centre. Waiting for him was a junior Tech-Priest.

"Ah, Tech-Priest!" grunted the Warmaster. "I could do with some good news..."

The Tech-Priest paused, in then in a metallic monotone replied; "Warmaster, I am pleased to report that Enginseer Hak has recovered. While all others have died, he appears to have shaken off the effects if the infection."

"Can we be sure he is no longer carrying any lingering trace of the corruption?" Hartek questioned.

The simple reply was "No!"

"Hmmm... We should perhaps keep him quarantined for a while longer then..."

Over the next few day I gained strength, and felt much healthier, and the Warmaster visited me, of course staying outside the quarantine chambers, and we spoke of the events I had missed during my incapacitation, and I outlined the nightmares and voices that I had suffered during this period. Once the Warmaster had informed me of the fate of our erstwhile Rogue Trader, I asked him to give me some time, as I believed I had the solution. I would tell him no more about this, though, and I believe he left me feeling somewhat frustrated.

Hartek returned to the bridge, and began to collate all the reports that were coming in to the ship from the teams scattered around the system.

Captain Perez of The Revenge had secured our selected asteroid and was beginning a slow run out to the jump point to wait for us.

We dropped some beacons into the orbit of Saphirus 1-1S2M3 warning of a highly virulent and infectious contagion that killed within hours, and resolved to inform Inquisitor Attalus, one of the Dureen dynasty sponsors as soon as we could; we expected that the Ordo Malleus would be very interested in what we had uncovered on there.

The Furnace of Redemption moved away having deposited the beacons, and the survey teams reported that the last two satellites around the gas-giant were also asteroids, but there was nothing to exploit from them, so we bypassed those and began to run out to the jump point stopping off at Saphirus 1-1S1, the last location to be explored. There we discovered another orbital space station of the same design as those found orbiting the first gas-giant we encountered in the system. It too was in a poor state of repair, and we considered salvaging the technology, however its structure had begun to fail, so we evacuated our teams before it was too late. The teams that had been collected from the other orbital stations also reported that The Revenge had retrieved them just in time, as their structural integrity was also on the point of failure, so we had to write any salvage off from them too.

Reports from Saphirus 1-101 indicated that although there was mineral wealth on the world, they were almost prohibitively expensive to extract.

Effectively, our profit making opportunities were limited to the planet Dropas, and its precious stones and Hartek Fruit. Warmaster Hartek put forward the idea of relocating the settlers from Saphirus 1-101 to Dropas, to act as our agents in the dealings with the Xenos. I also had my report for the Adeptus Mechanicus for the terraformed Saphirus 1-1S4, which we would bring under Dynasty stewardship and be used as a troop training world, taking advantage of the layered environments.

The inhabitants of Saphirus 1-101 agreed to our proposals, and began to dismantle the mineral extraction machinery and began to prepare for relocation to Dropas, and we stopped off at Dropas to warn them to prepare to receive our representatives, and to fill our cargo bays with the produce of the world before transiting to the warp jump point at the edge of the system.

Throughout this time, while I was still sequestered in quarantine, I completed the analysis of the battle we had fought on Saphirus 1-1S2M3. We had lost a total of seventy-six loyal Dynasty soldiers and Tech-Guard, may the Omnissiah watch over them, and fourteen gun-cutters and their crews, but, at a conservative count, had put an end to over fifteen hundred of the foul abominations, not counting those destroyed by the orbital bombardment.

I then turned my mind to working on the problem of the survival of the Dureen Dynasty. I had had my suspicions that the foundations of our Dynasty may not have been as stable as we might like when I had first "discovered" Rico Dureen's personal records in the ships cogitators, some of which I included in the earlier section of this record. As a result I had started to undertake some detailed research and had taken DNA samples from both Dureen himself, and Warmaster Hartek, using the pretence of keeping medicae records up to date. In fact what I had been doing is using the DNA profiles as a basis for tracing both their genetic lines, and I was able to "discover" with minimal manipulation of the data that both lines were ancient, and indeed predated the Imperium itself. I was further able to specify particular genetic markers that indicated that both lines had a common, distant ancestor before the abhuman Squat race split off from mainstream humanity.

I documented my findings in an impressive looking document, full of both high level medicae interpretations of data and samples, and with impressive looking tech-overlays including the high levels of probability that the lines were divergent from the same distant point.

I think even Tech-Priest Calldia, who so often tells me that I should approach problems from an unusual angle was surprised by my solution.

I called Warmaster Hartek to my quarantine area, and downloaded the information to his dataslate, and saw his eyes widen with surprise as he began to read, and then saw his brows furrow in confusion.

"Nicander, I don't understand most of this..." he said.

I nodded, smiling, "You are not supposed to. Very few people will be able to unravel it, and fewer will care. We just need to lodge it with the relevant authorities, but in brief, that document proves, with evidence to back the claims, that you are an official heir to the Dureen line. I am now your humble servant Warmaster... Sorry, I should say Rogue Trader Kilgrim Hartek-Dureen!"

++ End of record ++


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 I feel some meta-game explanations are in order for the readers here.

The Rogue Trader's player dropped out of the game citing work commitments after Chapter 2, and so has been absent from the session where we found the Righteous Path onwards.  We carried on with him assumed to be off-camera, but the other players really struggled as we were completely lacking in the "face-man" type skills department.  I started drifting Warmaster Hartek a bit to try to fill in the gaps, and we made him First Officer, so at least one of the PCs would be able to operate with the Rogue Trader's authority by proxy.  We muddled through that way for a few more weeks.

Then we lost the Astrogator's player for a few weeks and coincidentally the Voidmaster's player has been missing sessions as well, leaving Lord Spatula and myself as the only constant players.  We had a bit of a "game in crisis" talk with Marvin the ARVN to decide what to do.  Lord Spatula and I are both really enjoying the game and wanted to carry on and we all agreed that in general terms we could still have an enjoyable game with just two regular players (plus whichever recurring cast members could make it to any given session)  We looked at the "Into the Maw" Actual Play on RPG.NET, which was an example of a two-player game that seemed to work well.  But the fact remained that we were going to struggle badly without at least some of the Rogue Trader's skillset.  We were also both attached to our characters and the connections they'd built up in the game world, which would all be lost if we started again with new characters.

We looked at Elite Advances to try to give our characters the necessary skills, but couldn't rationalise it in-setting (unless Malfi Community College offered a correspondance course in "Being A Conniving, Money-Grubbing Illegitimus 101), so in the end we went the whole hog and re-designed our PCs.  Hartek we converted from an Arch-Militant to a Rogue Trader, which not only gave the necessary diplomatic skills we were lacking but actually made him a better warleader, while only slightly diminishing his personal combat abilities.  Brother Nikander Hak remained an Explorator, but I believe Lord S tweaked him to better fit his concept of the character.

All that remained was to decide what to do about the existing Rogue Trader.  I have to confess to being responsible for the depraved fate that befell the late Mr Dureen, having suggested it half in jest to the others when his player first dropped out.  I went on to outline how we could then continue to run the ship in his name using a ploy that can only be described as "Weekend at Bernies 40,000".  Mercifully Marvin and Lord Spatula showed better taste than me, leading to the solution described in the play report.

It stretches credibility a little bit I know, but it lets us continue with a great game that I know Marvin's put a lot of time and effort into.  And who knows, maybe one day we might come across a true and worthy heir to the Dureen Dynasty to whom Hartek can hand over the rebuilt House and its Warrant.

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DrVesuvius said:

And who knows, maybe one day we might come across a true and worthy heir to the Dureen Dynasty to whom Hartek can hand over the rebuilt House and its Warrant.

Or more likely kill so he can keep control of the Dynasty... partido_risa.gif

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LOL nice quick fix! It was bound to come anyway we could feel the lack of RT! ;)


Cheers looking forward for more.


p.s. I believe the RT class is cursed me too have issue having him over for the games.There may be an accident soon!

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I pulled the excepts from this thread and slapped them into a Word file for a player in my campaign who has taken on the role of an Explorator, but is new to the setting and doesn't quite get the mindset of the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Having followed this thread since about the third update, I had no idea it's grown to 69 (Word) pages of juicy goodness. :)

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Im sure Kilgrim will hand it all back, its not like dwar... er squats are greedy happy.gif

Good luck with the killing of your RT crisaron.

Timberboar, the write up has turned into bit of a monster but as LordSpatula does a great job of writing it up I even find myself re-reading some of the episodes. Im also lucky that both DrVesuvius and LordSpatula are roleplaying their characters very well, DrVesuvius has limited knowledge of GW background and fluff while LordSpatula is roleplaying a different mindset.

Its also with regret that I have to inform everyone that we wont have a write up this week as we had to cancel the game but dont worry I will hopefully get to torment the players next week demonio.gif

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 Oi!  I resemble that remark!  That's Abhumanist, that is!

Actually if you asked Kilgrim right now what he would do if a true heir showed up, he'd quite honestly and sincerely say he'd hand over the House and happily return to the role of loyal House Warmaster.  A few years down the line, however, I imagine he might find himself making excuses and rationalisations and finding reasons not to, since the thirst for power is kinda insidious that way.

Like Marvin says, I'm not really much of a 40K fan, but I'm seeing our RT game as "Frank Herbert's Dune - as directed by Quentin Tarantino" and playing accordingly.  It's certainly a heckuva lot of fun playing someone who operates on a spectrum between "morally grey" and "stone killer" instead of the usual heroic type.

Lord Spatula, on the other hand, has a much better grasp of the setting and has absolutely nailed the voice of Nikandar Hak in the write-ups.

And of course, it's Marvin's universe that we're playing in.  He's even overlooking my heresy of playing a [***REFERENCE TO A NON-EXISTENT ABHUMAN SUBSPECIES CENSORED BY THE INQUISITION***].

Here's to the next 69 pages of grimdark goodness. aplauso.gif

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++ Excerpt taken from the personal record of Enginseer Prime Nicander Hak ++



We rendezvoused with Captain Perez and The Revenge on the edge of the Saphirus System and made the final preparations for the transition to the warp. The plan was to keep our asteroid suspended between the Furnace of Redemption, and The Revenge, attached by huge chains which we had brought with us for this very purpose. Mindful of the potential for unwelcome attention during the passage through the empyrean, I made some plans, and then oversaw the work to extend the Gellar Field envelopes of both ships to cover our prize rock; as our new Rogue Trader Regent so colourfully phrased it; "We don't want to arrive in Footfall to find we have to fight to clear our new base of warp spawned filth!"

Tech-Priest Calldia, as ever, was vocal with his opinions of my plan and preparations. Although he found much that he felt could be done better, he could not actually suggest any way to improve what we were doing, so we settled with the original plan, and I "let" him check my calculations. Which, by the way, were correct. Yes, Calldia, I know it is far better to be safe than sorry. And yes I do appreciate your help. Oh, do stop sulking; it's unbecoming for one of your intellect!

Based on what happened during the journey through the Warp, I think I must investigate whether Rogue Trader Kilgrim Hartek-Dureen is in possession of some form of witch-sight, or is just suitably paranoid as befitting his new role...

Once the preparations were complete, and the initial transition made, Hartek called me to the Command meeting room, and we began to discuss the transition of power of the Dynasty to his command. He came up with a two-tiered strategy; firstly to let it be known that Rogue Trader Dureen had disappeared, although the circumstances of the disappearance were unclear. Secondly, we would let a few key individuals know, via rumour and scuttlebutt, that Hartek had visited Dureen's quarters and witnessed his passing to a higher plain, in a bright glow of light, with his last words bearing a cryptic message stating "Take care of my people, cousin!" This statement it would be explained, had confused Hartek, until I had produced the genetic evidence proving the familial link between himself and Dureen.

I suggested that Kilgrim take the Ship's Confessor, Archbishop Nathaniel Shepherd, into his confidence, explaining the circumstances of Dureen's death in full detail, and make the case that we need to ensure the survival of the fledgling Dynasty and as we have a crucial, Holy task to aid the Calixis sector; effectively we do the work of the Emperor and cannot risk failure because of the degenerate behaviour of a single individual. Hartek nodded, and broke into a smile when I suggested that he broach this as part of his regular spiritual confession to the Archbishop, so he could couch the plan in terms of asking for advice on the situation, to protect the mission, and the spiritual wellbeing of the servants of the Dynasty. He stood, and headed for the Chapel.

Hartek recalled me a short time later, and told me that although the Archbishop was initially a little uncomfortable with the spiritual aspects of the story and would prefer that that section be rethought; he had not particularly liked Dureen, and he felt that we were acting in the greater good, and was pragmatic enough to accept the plan for what it was. Hartek nodded, and promised to rethink the sections that Archbishop Shepherd did not like, and would check with him prior to releasing any story.

We spent a little more time tweaking the tale, until I suggested that rather than transitioning to a higher plane, a more mundane explanation could be that Dureen had had an epiphany during his time in the Expanse, and had seen the error of the decadence of his previous life, and, with a new purpose and purity of mind had headed into the Expanse to spread the word of the Emperor to the heathens there, leaving his cryptic message to Hartek on a dataslate within his quarters. Both Hartek and Archbishop Shepherd accepted this as a valid compromise, and the matter was settled.

Hartek then spoke to the Chief Bosun, Johannes Vitteberg, and the Ship's Master at Arms Mikhael Petrov, explaining that the Rogue Trader was missing, and unlikely to return, and that he would be taking control of the Dynasty. Vitteberg, a man who had previously suggested to Hartek that he felt that the Warmaster was a far better candidate for command of the Dynasty, had no problems with the proposed transition of power, whilst Petrov was taciturn, but accepted that the change was necessary, as Dureen had effectively abdicated his responsibilities months earlier.

Satisfied, Hartek announced to the crew that Rogue Trader Dureen was missing, and after the hours of agonising over the decision, was somewhat surprised by the lack of response. It seemed that the crew were of the same opinion of the Master at Arms, and had more contact with Hartek than they had ever had with Dureen, and anyway, it did not really matter greatly who was in charge, their jobs remained the same.

A few days later, a second announcement was made, outlining my research, and that Hartek was a distant relation of Dureen, so until further notice Hartek would be reluctantly taking the role of "Rogue Trader Regent", and command of the Dynasty - at least until a more suitable heir could be located. This announcement was met with some celebration, although that may have been more to do with the fact that I authorised the doubling of the daily disbursement of the shipboard grog-ration from the ration servitors...

Throughout the journey I suffered from vivid nightmares, most of which were related to the battle with the corrupted inhabitants of Saphirus 1-1S2M3, and I was assailed with memories that I could not place, that I could not clarify, yet I found disturbing. I was not the only one affected strangely on this journey, and it was noticeable that Rogue Trader Regent Hartek was rarely seen without a piece of the strange fruit that bore his name, that we had discovered on Dropas.

A day after the confirmation of Hartek as Rogue Trader Regent, he was presented with his first challenge of command; and emergency message reached the bridge from The Revenge. At the same time, from my position monitoring the ships systems, I noticed a surge in power draw from the Gellar Field.

Hartek ordered the message to be transferred to the main holo-screen, which was filled with the image of a worried looking Captain Perez.

"Captain Perez!" Hartek greeted him

Dispensing with any preamble, Perez replied; "We have a situation over here. I have just been informed by my Enginseer that the Gellar Field is strained, as is on the point of failure. I have had reports of intrusions on half a dozen decks, sir!"

Suddenly, the lights on The Revenge flickered out, and a warning siren sounded.

A new, panicky voice came over the channel out of the darkness; "Captain Perez Sir! The Enginseer says he can cover certain areas of the ship, but the Gellar Field is being strained Sir!" Emergency lights flickered on, bathing the bridge of The Revenge in a red glow.

"Tell the Enginseer to do what he can, but he must keep the field up!" snapped Perez, tersely.

The panicky voice responded, "Sir, he says that certain sections of the generator have blown, and until he repairs them, he won't be able to get the field fully back!"

Suddenly there was a cry of "Watch out Sir!", and in the background we could see a deranged crewman launch himself at Perez, who casually spitted his attacker on a rapidly drawn sword, however, in the struggle, the transmission from The Revenge was cut.

I turned back to the readings I was getting from the ships instruments, and could see that although the Gellar Field of The Revenge was still functioning it was wildly fluctuating, and the power spike we had suffered was our field compensating for the weakening of The Revenge's field around the asteroid. I reported this to Hartek who ordered that the chains be shortened between us, the asteroid, and The Revenge so that there was less strain on both fields. Although this was a risky manoeuvre, the crew performed it flawlessly, and the strain eased slightly, however, there were still problems on The Revenge.

Hartek was about to call for troops to ship over to The Revenge from our barracks, when I reminded him that they too would be vulnerable to the vagaries of the fluctuating Gellar Field, and we really did not want heavily armed combat troops falling under the sway of the powers of the warp.

He grunted, and then spoke; "I am going to speak to the Iron Men..."

I nodded. "I must attempt to do what I can remotely to rectify the problems on The Revenge, and I need to ensure our field stays strong, but I will monitor the conversation. Keep a vox link active..."

He nodded, and headed to the accommodation of the Iron Men.

On arrival Hartek pressed the vox-stud and announced "I seek an audience with Iron Man XX1V1", and settled back to wait.

A few minutes later the door to the chamber slid open, and an Iron Man stood there. Hartek reactivated my translation servitor, and repeated his request.

"I am Iron Man XX1V1" replied the Iron Man.

Deciding to get straight to the point Hartek nodded, and then spoke again; "I have come to ask for your help. Your directive is to deal with the xenos threat, confirm?"


Hartek continued, "How do you feel about warp entities?"

Iron Man XX1V1 paused for a second, before replying, "We do not have enough data to come to a conclusion with regard to these warp entities. We are aware of the threat, but have no specific details."

"We are currently transiting the warp, and our sister ship is being assailed by entities from the warp." Hartek paused, but there was no response. "We're in great danger. If we lose our sister ship, as well as the loss of life on that vessel, this ship could suffer heavy damage, perhaps even be destroyed too. If that were the case, your people would also be destroyed, therefore it may be in your best interest to aid us."

Iron Man XX1V1 did not respond, although it did appear that he was communicating with his brethren.

Hartek continued; "Humans are vulnerable to the mind altering effects of the Warp, and the entities that reside there. Your people are not."

XX1V1 appeared to consider Hartek's words, and there appeared to be some debate going on between the Iron Men.

Several minutes passed, so Hartek spoke up; "Do you require any further information to aid you in your decision making?"

"Affirmative." Responded the Iron Man.

Hartek nodded. "The human crew of our sister ship, The Revenge, are suffering and dying at the moment. I as the Warmaster, and now Regent of this Dynasty, cannot in good conscious let this continue. If you are unable to help us I will lead a human force onto the other vessel, and many will die. Many more will suffer as a result of the warp entities, but I will lead the force anyway to protect both our peoples. Whatever you decide, I will respect your decision as free thinking entities, but I need an answer soon."

The debate rolled on for another ten minutes, and then Iron Man XX1V1 spoke to Hartek; "We will assist you, but, we expect something in return."

"Name your terms!" Hartek grunted, with a wry smile.

"We ask for less restricted access to the vessel. We are confined to this small area. It stifles us. We wish to experience full life on this vessel."

I spoke over the vox to Hartek; "I do not believe that this is a bad thing Kilgrim, however, perhaps we should specify that there are certain areas that the human crew do not have full access to either, and that they need to respect what privacy is available to the crew. Perhaps we should offer them the same access as human crew, as long as they are careful in the numbers that they travel in; we do not wish to impact on the efficient functioning of the vessel?"

Hartek, grunted, and made an offer to Iron Man XX1V1. "Will you agree to abide to the same sort of restrictions that the human crew on board the ship accept? Freedom to move around, but with certain limitations?"

Very quickly Iron Man XX1V1 responded; "Affirmative"

"Very well then. It is agreed!" Hartek nodded. "I would be honoured if you, or one of your people, would accompany me to gain an overview of what we do here."


Again, Hartek nodded. "In that case, estimate the force you require, and ready your people for transfer to The Revenge please. You have the layout of this ship from the records?"

"Affirmative. However I am unable to estimate the force required as we do not have enough information regarding the enemy."

Hartek paused. "In that case I suggest the largest force you feel comfortable with."

XX1V1 responded immediately; "Ninety."

"Good. We will transfer from Small Craft Bay 17 forthwith."

I was left wondering what the remaining nine Iron Men would be doing while remaining onboard the Furnace of Redemption, but quickly finished making the last adjustments to the Gellar Field, handing over to the senior Tech-Priests, before collecting my equipment and heading to the small craft bay to meet the Hartek, his aide Antonio Fenducci, and the Iron Men.

Hartek had formally handed command to the Officer of the Watch, currently Orbest Dray, with orders to maintain a high alert, and then we split the force over four gun-cutters. Although nervous about making the journey in an unshielded craft, with some skilful piloting we would remain within the extended Gellar Fields, projected to cover the asteroid under tow, so we should be able to transit without problem. Fortunately the pilots were able to meet the challenge and this proved to be the case, and we successfully docked in one of The Revenge's small craft bays still protected by her Gellar Field.

Hartek requested that Iron Man XX1V1 leave the bulk of his people defending the small craft bay, and to a number to come with us as we headed off towards the bridge. Our group consisted of Hartek, his aide, myself, Iron Man XX1V1, and an additional seven of his people. The journey of several hundred metres was surprisingly uneventful, despite the distant sound of the occasional gunshot, and bout of screaming.

As we advanced through the ship, Hartek called me forward to translate, and then turned to Iron Man XX1V1, "Iron Man XX1V1, it's difficult for humans to relate to a name like XX1V1. Would you object if we re-designated you to help with human interactions?"

Personally, I do not see what the problem with the name XX1V1 is, but I translated the message properly as requested. Surprisingly, XX1V1 responded "I would not object."

Hartek smiled. "In that case, for human interaction, I think the name Xerxes will work!"

XX1V1 or Xerxes as he is now to be known apparently, seemed unmoved, and I cannot say I blame him.

Tech-Priest Calldia was keeping a running commentary up throughout our journey, and although I was able to tune most of his drone out, he did make some salient points with regard to a number of technical issues which were raised as we advanced. It was because of this internalised debate that I missed much of what happened next, but have since gained a better understanding after reviewing recordings of the encounter.

Hartek had spotted a crouched figure, perhaps forty metres away, down the corridor leading to the final approaches to the bridge. The figure was crying softly, and seemed to be hugging itself, focussed intently on something that no-one else could see. As Hartek approached, he drew one of his bolt-pistols, but hid it behind his body, and was able to identify the person as a woman. Beyond her, there was a splash of sparks, as some of the wiring seemed to short out, and he reached out to draw her away from the danger, her head whipped round, and he saw that her eyes were completely white, and she was covered in dried blood and cuts. Most horrifying of all, her lips had been sewn shut with rough twine, and it looked as though this was self inflicted. The woman screamed, and launched herself at him, and shocked, Hartek scrambled backwards and quickly swung the bolt pistol round, squeezing off a round, which hit, but did not detonate as she was too close for it to arm properly. Even so, the woman was sent sprawling, giving Hartek time to gather himself properly, and prepare for her attack. She pulled a knife from the folds of her ruined clothes and slashed at Hartek, scoring his armour. Tiring of this, Hartek finished her with a burst from his bolt-pistol. Fenducci, Hartek's Aide, took this as a cue to vomit on his own boots.

"Xerxes" Hartek spoke up, indicating around him, "This is why we needed your help..."

"Affirmative" was the emotionless reply.

We continued towards the bridge, passing a number of crumpled bodies, and soon came to a set of heavy sealed doors. Hartek attempted to vox through to the bridge, but got nothing but static, although, judging by the look on his face, and from the tone of his quiet muttering, he was also hearing something else. I am becoming quite the expert at recognising voices in the head, and I feel sure that Hartek was hearing something more than the static he reported. Such are the perils of a warp incursion, and I made a mental note to keep an eye on my friend. He seemed to quickly gather himself, and called me forward to open the door.

I connected myself to the data-port and began to negotiate with the machine-spirits, much to the disgust of Calldia, who chided me for taking unnecessary risks. It is nice to know that he cares, although I suspect it is more to do with self preservation than anything else.

While I was working, a number of howls and screams came from down the corridor, and a severed head was hurled at the group, mercifully falling short, and while I was aware of the Iron Men powering their weapon systems, and the heat from their firing, I focussed on my task in hand. Less than half a standard minute later, I had bypassed the security protocols, and spoken the correct litanies to calm the machine spirits, and turned to notify Hartek, when I noticed the remains of two dozen people either burnt to a cinder, or explosively dismembered and scattered around the corridor. The Iron Men were clearly highly effective warriors.

As the door slid open, I heard a voice shouting "Prepare to fire!"

I flung myself to one side and tried to shout "Cease fire!", but my voice was lost in the noise of the gunfire. Rounds whipped past me, one clipping my arm, and another two hitting young Fenducci. A number of the other shots struck the Iron Men, and that was enough for them to classify the firers as hostile. Once again, their weapons activated, and in an impressive show of force, they surgically removed our attackers.

Hartek bellowed "Hold your fire!", and Captain Perez raising himself from behind the cover he had taken, managed to finally restrain his men, and the Iron Men realised there was no longer a threat. There were over a dozen dead and wounded people strewn across the bridge.

"Captain Perez! Permission to come aboard?" asked Hartek jovially, as he stepped over the threshold into the bridge, and attempted to cut through the tension with humour.

Despite himself, Perez grinned, "Permission granted, Sir!" He swept low, removing his hat, in a formal bow. "Apologies for the reception, but we didn't know you were coming to the party!"

"That's fine Captain." and then the Hartek indicated the rest of us; "I hope you don't mind, I brought some friends!"

Perez looked at the dead and wounded crew, and paused for a second, "No, no problem at all Sir!", and the proceeded to update us with regard to the situation.

Captain Perez had lost contact with his Enginseer in the Gellar Field sanctum, but had managed to move all the crew into protected areas, and detach Armsmen to protect them. We updated our tactical plans to reflect these safe areas, and Hartek turned to the Iron Men; "Anything within these safe areas we do not engage. Anything outside is a valid target."

"We only engaged the targets here because we took hostile fire" stated Xerxes

"That is perfectly logically and reasonable" I interjected.

Hartek agreed; "Obviously you have the right to defend yourselves Xerxes. This is forgotten..."

We arranged for the remaining Iron Men to patrol the ship, protecting as many of the safe areas as they could. Perez voxed the crew warning them to stay within the designated safe zones as anywhere else was classified as a free-fire zone.

I stepped forward, "I need to get to the Gellar Field sanctum and restore it properly. I will need an escort, and we need to get there quickly..."

Hartek and Perez nodded, and leaving Perez on the bridge to co-ordinate, Hartek, Fenducci, Xerxes, his seven Iron Men, and I, set off, at speed, towards our destination. As we approached the Gellar Field sanctum, I picked up a reading on my auspex indicating a single slow moving target, so sent one of my servo-skulls, Yorrick, to take a quick look round the corner. As he approached, there was a short in some of the ships wiring, and he was caught in the discharge and effectively shut down. Unfortunately this meant that I had to base the rest of the record of this day on after action reports, as my recording ended here.

Throwing caution to the wind, I ran down the corridor to retrieve my fallen friend, and picked up a very weak signal from Yorrick, warning me that the figure was heading towards him. I was not going to leave Yorrick to the mercies of the unknown, and redoubled my efforts to get there first, all the time hearing faint whispers at the edge of my consciousness.

I reached out and grabbed Yorrick, as the figure came round the corner, and threw myself backwards to keep clear as the gore covered humanoid reached out. I scrabbled backwards and unslung my hellgun, as Hartek stepped passed me, pistols drawn firing at the figure. There was a horrible click as one of the bolt-pistols jammed, and distracted by this, Hartek missed with his second pistol. As the figure reached out for Hartek I fired off a burst from my hellgun, catching it a number of times, blasting it from its feet. It lurched once more, and with a deep groan, it reached out a hand to Hartek, holding forward a necklace, and muttering "Why did they all have to die?" and then it too died.

"I don't think he was a mad one!" exclaimed Fenducci.

"Aye..." nodded Hartek sadly, "But he was in the free-fire zone, and we couldn't take the risk..."

I gestured to the Warmaster for him to pass me his jammed pistol, and speaking the proper litanies, and applying the sacred oils in the correct places, un-jammed it and freed the action, before handing it back, and we continued on to the Gellar Field sanctum. There were the bodies of Tech-Priests scattered around the fairly large room, and in the centre was the vital equipment, obviously suffering from power-fluctuation problems. I stepped forward, focussed on the device and trusting to the Iron Men to protect me when suddenly the vox sprang to life, and we could hear gunfire and screaming from one of the safe areas; "By the Throne! What is that? How can it exist? Emperor preserve us... Aaaaaarrrggghhh...!"

I spent a few minutes analysing the damage, when once again the vox sprang to life; "By all that Holy! Arrrggghhh! How can this be... Noooo!"

Another safe area was being attacked. Between them, Perez and Hartek worked out that the attacks were in a direct line towards the bridge.

"Xerxes, can you bring your people to intercept please?" Hartek asked.

Xerxes responded, "Affirmative. But we are the closest."

I looked up; "Leave me some protection, and go!"

Hartek nodded, and Xerxes detached two Iron Men to defend me, and then Hartek, Fenducci, Xerxes, and the remaining five Iron Men left the chamber at a run.

I had to rely on second hand reports and some static recordings from The Revenge to piece together the events of the next standard hour or so, as I was engrossed in repairing the damaged Gellar Field.

The team reached the corridor to the bridge unopposed, but as they rounded the corner to the bridge doors they saw a terrible sight; a creature born of inhuman horrors radiating hatred, and immense power. They could hear the screaming of souls as its burning gaze passed over them, and men around the creature killed themselves rather than stand to be in its presence. Its shape constantly changed, with pseudopods and limbs forming and dissipating at random. The Iron Men, unmoved, opened fire with their plasma weapons bathing the creature with energy. It appeared not to notice, and one of its pseudopods began to bubble and then split from the main entity, producing a smaller, shark-like creature with legs of a sort, which began to move towards Hartek. At this time, Hartek noticed that the metal in the room had begun to corrode, and the Iron Men were showing signs of damage too, and as he staggered back, he could see the metal bulkheads of the ship weeping blood.

The Iron Men fired another volley of plasma at the creature, again bathing it in fire, but again it seemed not to notice. Hartek stepped forward to intercept the smaller creature that had began to stalk the Iron Men, and un-sheathed his Squat axe, attacking aggressively. With inhuman speed, the creature evaded the blow, and lashed out with a knotted limb, punching through Hartek's armour as though it was not there, driving him to the floor, and leaving him on the edge of unconsciousness. Hartek told me later he could feel reality melting away at this point, and he knew that the creature was feeding off weakness between the empyrean and reality...

The large creature charged into the Iron Men driving one into the bulkhead, Hartek realised that it was Xerxes who had taken the hit, and he had been rendered instantly inoperative by it. The others responded by leaping at the creature, slashing at it with their taloned hands.

Throughout this time, I worked on the Geller Field generator, knowing that speed was the key but not knowing how desperate the situation on the bridge was getting. Fortunately, I had identified the problem; something was blocking the machine spirits of the genatorium from flowing properly, reducing the power to the Gellar Field, however, it was also clear that the machine spirits would require much help to clear the blockage so I released a burst of incense and began the correct litanies to aid them on their journey. Immediately I could feel the harmonics changing, as I eased the spirits on their way, but I knew that it would take some time.

Back on the bridge, the fight was getting desperate. The remaining Iron Men were tearing chunks of foul flesh from the large creature, which began to fade and shimmer, and Hartek could feel a psychic roar of anger and pain. Then the creature quickly stabilised itself and moved to strike back at the Iron Men. Hartek and Fenducci had their hands full the smaller creature, and were fighting defensively, and as a team. Fenducci managed to evade an attack, but Hartek was not so lucky, being pinned to the floor by spine driven through his shoulder. As the creature twisted away to strike again, it tore Hartek's arm off, and left him unconscious, on the edge of death. The larger creature swatted two more of the Iron Men to the floor, where they remained motionless, and their remaining brothers renewed their assault, when suddenly, the creature burst, and disappeared, leaving ichor stains on the deck. There was a smaller explosion as the smaller creature, which had turned its attention to Fenducci burst too.

The young man paused for a second before leaping forward to the aid of his Master and attempting to staunch the blood flow from the amputated arm. He did his job well, and as the Rogue Trader Regent began to regain consciousness, he saw a huge clawed hand begin to descent through the bridge. Each finger was the size of an Iron Man; however, it had not quite coalesced into real-space. Hartek could hear heavy metal-shod footsteps approaching; Iron Men reinforcements had begun to arrive in the corridor approaching the bridge.

I knew I was getting close to repairing the Gellar Field; the machine spirits had calmed themselves, and the genatorium had begun to slip back into a proper rhythm, when suddenly I felt the ship lurch, and additional alarms sounded. Afterwards, when I was able to compare chrono readings, it became clear that this coincided with the giant hand reaching into the bridge. I completed the last litany, and felt the power began to flow cleanly again, and the Geller Field sprang back to full power enveloping The Revenge, and I felt the ship settle back into its normal routine.

Hartek told me he knew the moment I succeeded, as he felt a deep thrum vibrate through the vessel, and suddenly the fingers were sliced from the giant hand falling to the deck and dissolving. Hartek, relieved, blacked out once more at this point.

I got onto the vox system; "All call-signs, the Gellar Field is back up and stable. Report in please."

I was swamped with information, and was pleased to hear Captain Perez come onto the net, and exert some control over his crew. They had suffered heavy losses with almost 5400 loyal souls lost, nearly 30% of the entire crew complement, but as Perez said, it could have been much worse. I requested that the Iron Men undertake a sweep of the vessel, to round up stragglers, and destroy any remaining threats, which they did without further loss. I arranged for Hartek to be delivered to the Medicae bay along with the other wounded, and began to do what I could to aid them.

++ End of record ++


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