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Marwynn

Blessed Enterprise (73 SP, Dictator class cruiser)

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That manoeuvrability coupled with the twin Ryza batteries is going to make for a nasty combat ship.  The range suffers a bit, but the Empyrean Mantle should help them close distances anyway.  A flexible ship, but I don't know that I would call it a warship.  Should it ever conduct operations in conjuction with the Blessed Enterprise, they would make for a fright'ning pair.

 

The Miloslav drive is always a good choice, and should always be recommended in my opinion.

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MOTIONS IN THE DARK
 

 

I have no doubt that our House historians and tutors will have their own lessons to teach about my failures. Anton's Arrogance they'll probably call this one, perhaps rightly so. But I will share with you my honest assessment and show that it was not arrogance so much as it was complacency. Hubris, even.

 

I had intended no harm, nothing untoward to anyone. I came to Naduesh in the hopes of perhaps establishing a colony, not to take one by force.

 

Lyza was dangerous in many ways. I had affronted her before her arrival here, during our dinner, and even now. I do not grant her the same leeway as I would another scion. I underestimated her and her reputation. In her time in the Strom Dynasty Fleet, when it was still a Fleet, she had quite aggressively defended her claims. 

 

That she arrived in a sharp frigate escorting a transport while a cruiser carrier maintained a geo-stationary orbit on Naduesh must have been very alarming. I am quite unaware of my own reputation at this point, having only just begun interacting with other rogue traders. They knew of me as a navy man and no doubt saw my efforts in the brief Reconquiste Crusade a few decades back. 

 

I was taking Naduesh. That was what the others saw. Dozens upon dozens of bulk loaders and attack craft flooding into our trade post, with nothing but rumours of Damaris' war industries now being mine to go on, they assumed I was carving out my claim. 

 

How silly. I merely wanted secure victuals and provender while keeping the Red Priests aboard happy by poking at things they no longer understood. 

 

I will not absorb all blame. The Aesperanza did not enter a geo-stationary orbit along with the Blessed Enterprise and Fair Trade. Instead, it began circling and creating a perimeter. Lousy and useless, but provocative. 

 

I am told that the first ones to move were the free captains. Beholden to merchants, cartels, or worse, banks, these voidmen saw a threat they couldn't defeat or intimidate alone. They gathered together, upsetting the other Rogue Traders. When they moved, they did not do so in a straightforward manner, hoping to surround the stationary vessels and threaten us from multiple points. I commend them for that thought. 

 

It may have been the only coherent one they had.

While we sat generally just north of the equator, the Boro ship saw something else entirely in its high polar orbit. It saw a pack of lesser ships about to encircle its lone vessel. 

 

Did I fail to mention that the Lords of the Seas is a Grand Cruiser? 

From their point of view, reviewing all the vox and augur readings, it was perfectly valid for them to assume they were the target. Why is another matter.

 

This had been happening even as we dined and boarded our landing craft. 

 

FROM BELOW
 

It rained that night. Days of heavy landers and bulk haulers had punctured Naduesh's arid sphere so many times in the last week that I was only mildly surprised when it finally began. A timid drizzle on other worlds, worrisome for the voidborn to have water leak from above. 
 

Somehow, I did not expect to see the desert flowers glow in the night. I suspect it keeps predators at bay as they gorged on water.

 

If the Emperor sent that rain it did not wash the blood from my hands. My crew and guests assumed we'd chase the signals, the now near-dead savages. To rescue them? I laughed at the first idiot that suggested it.

 

I had asked the Mechanicus to join us and bring their burrowing servitors along with them. 

My suspicions are that Naduesh, while not fully artificial, has a crew. An under-strength one at that. They did not take the poor tribe we gathered to their main nerve centre, merely the nearest processing point before returning to their own posts. 

 

Lyza did not like my plan. I did not much care and offhandedly said that she could investigate the savages' whereabouts on her own. She, thankfully, did.

 

In the midst of all of this I had a tremendous idea: cans. The Nadueshi would not use up all the megatons of metal ores the Fair Trade brought with it for centuries. They were eager to foist off older food they could no longer safely eat to us, explaining just how quickly we were able to amass such provender. 

 

So, cans. I made the arrangements myself and some machinists were sent down to set up the operation. In a week's time the trade post can become a cannery of sorts. Harvest can proceed at a much less disastrous pace--though it seems Naduesh's plants hardly mind the brusque handling of its fruits and seeds. It will also give us another trade item with the Nadueshi.

 

I planned to sleep well that night, having prevented the destruction of this site for at least three days. It would take a while longer to offload the Fair Trade's cargoes and load it with food and herd animals, by then I hoped to solve the problem of the "Stealers".

 

I did not see the first lance strike. I'm told it seared like a solid bar of the sun and struck a quickly collapsing bubble. I did see the flaming wreck of a frigate falling into Naduesh.

 

 

HOPE OF THE STARS


Too much to hope for that Lyza got herself killed. Horrible thought, one that I may have uttered at the time. I knew who fired and what died before Mr. Thraves told me that the Lords of the Seas had struck and killed a free ship, the Recus apparently. 
 

Not that it mattered. We were all dead. Millions of tons of void ship was falling towards the planet and we were all dead. Perhaps the Takers--that is what I choose to name them, "Stealers" is far too charged a name--will survive. 

 

My only sad thought was that Lyza had in fact retired to the Aesperanza for the night. She would inherit the Warrant.

 

She did a damned fool thing instead.

Luck would have the Aesperanza close to the Recus' stumbling hulk and the frigate dared Naduesh's atmosphere, all weapons blazing. I could see half of the Recus--the fore half--had broken into three pieces. All the frigate's firepower and thankfully few of its generatoria. 

 

There were still men alive in there. 

 

The liquid hot touch of the Aesperanza's plasma weapons ended their lives and their threat to us and the planet. Superb gunnery, even the turrets--upgraded, unless I miss my mark--disintegrated many pieces of debris. 

 

Only the prow remained and the Aesperanza had already made its pass. Lyza saved us and the planet that day, though a few hundred square kilometres of Naduesh would be a radioactive wasteland for millennia.

 

I was the first to see it. A flash from below, a single macrocannon shot. There was no deafening boom, no pressure wave, just a streak of superheated air into an annihilated fireball. 

 

Then the boom came as the debris shattered against the cities' void shields.

Naduesh awoke.

 
I should have felt joy and relief at our rescue. Or dread at the awesome power from the sleeping planet. Instead, I retreated and calculated. The plasma batteries on Aesperanza were Ryza-pattern, I had checked. Those are not meant to maintain ready statuses for long periods, not overnight. They cannot be brought up quickly unlike las-batteries. 

Lyza had meant to use those weapons for something else. The frigate's path had taken it close to the Viago Torus
 
I assumed she meant to attack it for straying too closely. Fool. I didn't see the threat at all. 
 
What I did see was our Astropath and Navigator in clasped arms. Both had been lending their power somehow to the Aesperanza, guiding its gunners. I am proud of their clearheadedness, I was simply about to find the most attractive female and kiss her as we died in the impact or fallout.
 

SANDSTORM


The tireless tech-priests traced our Takers' origins, far below the planet. It was also directly under one of the hive cities. I have never heard of an Underhive reaching this far down. 
 
The void shields around the cities evaporated soundlessly but the skies were no longer clear. The Lord of the Seas had several attack craft squadrons as well and they rose from their polar base. The Wrens simply could not stay out of it and had begun launching their army as well, punching through the tortured atmosphere with mass landers.
 
Everyone began landing what they could even as their ships circled. I ordered our flight marshal to return to the Blessed Enterprise and take command of our attack craft... right after taking a lander and dropping us off in the middle of a hive city. It was pretty impressive flying.
 
Void shields have a curious effect on atmospheres, at least the ones large enough to matter. I saw more than a single generator for Naduesh's cities, perhaps dozens, layered to create the pattern that was painful to look at as the Recus smashed into it. The rain from the night became a storm. A massive, twisting tumult of rain and pressure. If anything, it made landing troops all the more necessary.
 
The Navigator lead us through the twisting thoroughfares mundanely, something of a hobby for her. It was our Astropath that guided us into the storehouse. Or barracks. Whatever it was, it had a lift that descended. 
 
My armsmen ringed it and I ordered them to reinforce that position and send in more men after us. I knew those orders would be followed even with the sandstorm engulfing the area.

I was expecting warmth. The Underhives, not that I've ever been, are supposed to be pressed in, squalid, humid, and hot with humanity and exposed machines. I saw none of the squalor but plenty of the technology. Binar, too focused on keeping us breathing up till this point had moments to gasp at the rare examples of working seismic stabilizers and other things he couldn't process. 
 
The Magos bent over the lift's control podium, marveling at its simple functionality while aghast at its nonexistent security. We fell through the world unstopped and unchallenged. As the Navigator and Astropath meditated, the missionary blessed our weapons and various devices, I took out a silvered rectangle from my pocket. By some power unknown to me it began cleaning the sand off my head and entire body, leaving it in two pools at my feet. My dusty companions were not impressed as i then used its surface as a mirror.
 
First contact needs to proceed carefully. I'll not be covered in muddied sand while speaking with the very people who have more firepower than some segmentum fleets.
 
I smiled as the lift slowed and the doors opened. The sharp, pointy things aimed at my head gently backed away as I stepped forward. I am told by my staff that it was as if I was entering the bridge of the Blessed Enterprise. Let that be a lesson: arrogance has its place and time. 
 
I smiled further and said "Take me to your leader."

That was of course when they struck me in the head.
 
 
=========================================================================
 
 
That was last week's play session, our actual last combined session. The Aesperanza things actually did happen, we wanted to give them a scare (okay, I wanted to) and it seems it worked. Space combat is easy, they used to say. No real consequences. 
 
It was sort of truncated, but we still managed to fit it all in a few hours. The Aesperanza did a lot more things that won't be "canon" in this campaign, namely setting a few ships on fire as it ran out of the system, but otherwise good fun to be had. 
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SHIFTING SANDS

 

 

The first realization I had when I awoke was that Naduesh had more than just macrocannon. What destroyed the falling hulk had not been a macroshell but a burst of plasma. It devoured the prow instead of blasting it apart. 

 
I stood, bereft of my weapons, and surprised the person watching me. The Taker had intelligent eyes. We spoke, haltingly, in Low and High Gothic. The room had no doors, but hulking shadows passed by from time to time. Their utterly silent servitors, massive even in the space we were in.
 
He thanked me for the gift. 
 
I thought he meant my weapons at first but he threw a blinking bulb at me. One of the beacons Binar had implanted on the Nadueshi that I sacrificed. It was why we were alive, or rather why we were allowed to remain whole.
 
We spoke long, someone brought water and some fruits that we ate. These Takers don't remember much, and there are clans and nations of them teeming just below Naduesh's surface. Or there were. 
 
The tribes had dwindled as more left their posts--he was clear on that word in High Gothic--and enjoyed a nomadic life free from their duty--another High Gothic word. The ones I sacrificed were already being put to work. He knew not how, only that more of the city came to life than it had before, at least in living memory. 
 
This was another reason why we had not been harvested. 
 
Our gifts were not trivial. Trelany received a powerful blade, our Navigator an arcane staff, and even my armsmen were awarded with a choice of weapon from their armouries. Their fully stocked armories of well-preserved archeotech weaponry.
 
I enjoyed the new toys the Taker had given me--he had not asked my name and I had not asked his--but I wanted more than just weapons. He knew it as well. 
 
Both the Wren and Boro have been busy excavating what they can of Naduesh. Until now they had been unable to stop them. Now, with the aerospace battle between almost all above us the planet was in danger. And my host had the means of ending it.
 
He was doing me the courtesy of showing which ships were mine before he annihilated the rest. All had left orbit and were well away, maneuvering from outside the constraints of a gravity well. 
 
This man, this young man, controlled a fraction of the world's weapons. He assured me he had the power to devastate more than a dozen voidships. 
 
I would like to believe I did not pale at that idea. The rush of blood to my face could have been interpreted as excitement. It was fear.
 
I had an alternative, an altogether unaltruistic one. My host didn't know why he had to preserve Naduesh only that he had to. That narrowminded dedication is why the Imperium still stands. I respected that. 
 
Reason won out. Destroying these ships would only bring more and while those would be destroyed they would be a constant drain. Allowing the planet to be scavenged was not an option either, at least the hive cities had to remain intact. And I could profit by making the popular resting point a little less crowded. A safe harbour, a trade post, would be a monopoly and dynasties are built on those.
 
Hopes for establishing a macrobattery trade slimmed. But there was still a wealth of archeotechnology on Naduesh. I asked for a slice, a full sample from all pieces of technology the Nadueshi had. The massive plasma macrobatteries for starters were well worth a look. In truth, I wanted trinkets to dangle in front of the Mechanicus on board. They cannot know that there are living, technically adept humans on Naduesh. Samples of their technology will suffice. 
 
In exchange, I would give the Nadueshi the manpower he needed. In turn, he could trade that manpower to the other Takers--Nadueshi--who will ensure that there is only one safe harbour on the planet: my trade post.
 
I followed little of his conversations with the other leaders save that manpower was not enough. They wanted to meet in person. The fighting made it difficult, but my companions showed their mettle. Journeying to reach each secluded Taker community took the better part of a day, even with the underground rails helping us when it could. Our party grew as the leaders joined us. We journeyed to the surface or delved into the burrows and fought our way through Boro, Wren, or some unknown hostile force. Madness.
 
Finally, we arrived at a place that allowed us to reach the rest by hololith.  I know my strengths and negotiation is one of them. I also know that Mr. Thraves' skills far outshines mine. 
 
We rose to a high spire, crackling with void shield power, as the storm cleared from Naduesh's skies. Thraves arrived quickly, with a full retinue, and barely raised an eyebrow when he found out the price in blood my tentative deal required. He worked out the finer details while I focused on the grand scheme.
 
All I needed then was a show of force. 
 
The Lords of the Seas was surrounded and it mattered not to the Grand Cruiser. It swatted away heavy fire with its void shields and mangled the Free ships still daring to attack it. They were still in orbit or close by. Dangerous for a void battle, reckless even. Most were above the various hive cities, though a few congregated closer to the Blessed Enterprise.
 
One Free Trader darted close to the planet. Streaks of light it never even saw killed it in motion. That was all the other vessels needed to burn out of the system. 
 
I ordered Bain to render aid to the vessel. I should not explain the measures I had him take. 
 
The next few hours consisted of unloading what we could, in trade, to take on what the Nadueshi could surrender to us. We managed to load one massive plasma cannon in our cargo bay and I left behind a small town to oversee the trade post.
 
By then of course most ships had been far out of augur range but we caught up. They saw the Blessed Enterprise move to aid the Boon of Santom explaining our delays. There were no witnesses of course.
 
Some of the same vessels that fled joined us in our cruise to Damaris. Our would-be attackers were now the closest of our friends after they saw us try to render aid to the stricken Boon. When we return they'll no doubt spread the tale of my mercy and grace under fire and how Naduesh was now off limits. I had insinuated that the Wren and Boro excavations into the hive cities were the reasons for this--something the Free Captains were all too eager to agree with seeing as how both the Lords of the Seas and In The Moment destroyed half their number. 
 
It seems we had only just left Damaris yet it feels like so long ago as well. 
 
------------------------
 
So here ends our abrupt jaunt into Naduesh. The Blessed Enterprise is heavily laden with treasures from Vaporious and Naduesh, including some bits of Naduesh-tech. 
 
Technically, the plains are free for everyone to partake of, just as before. But the trade post is situated nicely and is the only spot that will not be targeted by the Takers/Nadueshi. I'm hoping the news of what happened there will spread and will give credence to my poor trade post.
 
In other news, my RT began training to use the power armour. I think we all hit Rank 2 at this point. 
 
Our mission goals were accomplished, though I'm the only one that actively cares about growing the dynasty. The rest had a blast killing stuff--we even had Jet-Bikes at one point, kinda like those Eldar... hmm... Anyway, that was last week. 
 
There will be a series of short stops along the way from Naduesh to Damaris, just as is proper. It's mostly wild, uncharted space. I'm actually GM-ing these bits, and I hope to introduce some sci-fi horror elements into our games. 
 
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Captain's Log
 

After setting beacons on the Boon of Santom's floating hulk, the Blessed Enterprise set out for the system's Warp limit. Its own momentum will eventually take it out of the system in a few months' time, long enough for the Free ship's shareholders and investors to bicker and send a recovery vessel. 

 
Curiously, none of the Boon's comrades inquired about the crew nor raised any concerns that I had left the survivors stranded on Naduesh. 
 
The week in transit was uneventful as the Blessed Enterprise readjusted itself to the riches we had taken aboard. Of the other Rogue Traders I saw naught but their wake and I am relieved. Our stores were full with victual and provender, our tanks refreshed with fresh, pure water. Only our prometheum was at an alarming level, so much so that I considered joining the Aesperanza and Fair Trade to journey back to Vaporious and refuel. 
 
Instead, I ordered the Fair Trade to surrender her fuel stocks to us. No captain likes surrendering prometheum, even on vessels with plasma hearts. But Vaporious was close and our cruise had only just begun.
 
Earlier I had broadcast my intent to return to Damaris straight away, but it would waste a third of a year to journey there and back and here among the Heathen Stars was where I wanted to rebuild House Strom. 
 
First, I had business to attend to. You will recall, young scion, that the Blessed Enterprise was recovered to the near bankruptcy of our dynasty. That was due to mismanagement of my predecessors--we had transitioned the dynasty fleet from cruisers to merchantmen over several millennia. It left us vulnerable and obligated in trade pacts to secure more wealth. So much so that this House that was established at the dawn of the Imperium was made bankrupt by the recovery of one cruiser and its refit. 
 
It is staggering. 
 
I took action. I secured funding from the Ecclesiarchy in exchange for a pilgrimage route and the establishment of two missions. I have done so, and Missionary Sevia agrees. Magos Binar, long aligned with our House, bound three separate factions within the Mechanicus--who knew such a thing even existed--into layered, complex agreements and exchanges. In exchange, I granted him--and him alone--access to all technology we would encounter, and my rights to use them within reason.
 
Now, the red priests are howling. After suffering for years in an incomplete vessel, where they kept their expertise for themselves, now they want access. The Tech-Priests are skilled in many things but their inhumanity leaves them at a disadvantage. Remember this, as I have secured further upgrades and a complete overhaul of several systems after only applying slight pressure and a bit of misdirection. When we return to Damaris, or any other capable shipyard, the Blessed Enterprise will undergo a much needed overhaul, courtesy of our red robed priests.
 
Damaris' neighbours--Ignus, Aestus, and Aduro--in the Forsellis system are being carefully exploited under the guidance of Tech-Priest Hadron Shard. Whatever factions the tech-priests aboard belong to also have a hand in the exploitation of these worlds, benefiting them all, including our House. Lyza brought word that construction had continued in our absence without incident and already the first shipments of precious ores were ready to journey to the Lathes. 
 
In light of this, Archmagos Hexiron's representative eventually agreed that we had met our terms as well. That meant that the technology we had recovered from Naduesh belonged to myself, as a duly appointed representative of the Imperium, and could hand over the technology to the Adeptus Mechanicus--Magos Binar--without consequence.
 
I believe this gave Magos Binar tremendous influence. It is out of my hands now. Warrant or not, never get in the way of a Tech-Priest and technology.
 
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SMOOTH SAILING

 

A warp gale is a betrayal. Warp storms blast and rage, ambushing and suffocating in terrible grandeur. Gales begin as currents, threads in the Immaterium that were once safe and provided swift passage. It blends amongst so many other streams that the lies of one influence the whole.

 

Seven standard minutes of hell as our gellar fields shuddered and our minds fought away the sounds of scraping metal. We hurtled out of the Immaterium and the Blessed Enterprise wrenched. I felt explosions shudder through the command throne as we escaped at translation velocity.

 

The others in our convoy had not been as lucky. One, bleeding fire that didn't consume the ship, shattered three asteroids before finally dying on a large moon, its ruin was its own tombstone. I spared it a moment's thought as we worked furiously to steer the Blessed Enterprise through the twisting gravitational eddies and shallows. A gas giant, we saw it minutes later, massive and hidden by the sheer curtain of moons and asteroids, pulled us in.

 

We lost sight of the others quickly. It was only Bain Iosef's talented piloting that saved us all. Navigator Idris had rushed to the bridge from her spire and guided him while I had focused on keeping the ship whole. Bitter orders had to be given. We had lots more to warp madness and that horrid translation than we ever had lost in battle.

 

It was Idris who saw the way out, and Trelany wasted no time in sharing it with any other survivors. For a while we thought we were the only ones then two ships, Majestic Benefit and Shining Trust emerged slowly from the ringed layers of rocks. Two out of seven. 

 

And still the gas giant pulses. We limped away, hours of tearing maneuvers had exhausted our crews and strained our ships. 

 

The Master of Aetherics reported ghastly streams of gravitic riptides as the system was laid out before us. It was quite similar to the Sol system--I have ever only been there once--though only the third planet here seemed inhabited. Vox messages were picked up, likely from hulks and survivor camps. Only the orbit around the third planet offered any safe harbour for effecting repairs.

 

DISCARDED

 

The Lords of the Seas was not happy to see us. It rested again on a high polar orbit, its broadsides slashed and torn but still capable of outmatching the Blessed Enterprise in an exchange. We effected repairs on the other side of the world.

 

Raakata. It has to be, Toros Umboldt's greatest discovery and worst failure. Another world of feral humans in the midst of lost technology. I had my fill of that on Naduesh.

 

I turned my attentions to expanding the dynasty fleet. There were solid returns from our own scans and I meant to take a closer look. Ignoring the planet, I sent gunboats to scout the echoes. Two of them were from the same ship, ripped in half and twice as useless. 

 

But two of the echoes were not. A Falchion was not a common vessel in this part of the galaxy and it sported colours of Battlefleet Koronus (as it were). The second is far too common among renegades in the Expanse--a Meritech Shrike raider.

 

The damage to the Falchion seemed extensive. I could see the molten wounds carved by the Shrike's prow lance on top of the rents made by its macrobatteries. The Shrike was intact save for a single gaping hole amidships. 

 

The Master of Aetherics was momentarily confused by my order, but she carried them out anyway. Buried among the streams of vox chatter one beacon repeated itself, a standard Navy distress signal. 

 

There was no avoiding the planet after all.

 

 

BEHOLD AND DESPAIR

 

Raakata is a fallen world. It is classified as feral, but I see no redemption here. Not even Sevia felt the urge to tame the savages that assaulted us, foolishly I might add.

 

The weeks of travel were not idly spent. I had trained myself to use the gifted power armour and had Binar ensure it was free from sabotage. Lyza had been so kind as to equip it with a military-grade power source. It seemed overly dramatic yet my armsmen were insistent on my wearing it. It was a symbol of status if nothing else. 

 

Damarans joined our landing parties, those of the Highlander Levy that fought so well against the Orks had no trouble slaughtering the savages. Many sported deformities that Binar assured me were not of the Warp but rather of the poisonous metals they daubed themselves with, the dried blood of their civilization. 

 

A statue greeted us midway, a glorious thing of cast adamantium, hovering on its own. I wanted to recover it but it was immovable. While we rested it began to speak, a record message in High Gothic that I could barely hear. I heard two words "behold" and "despair" before all power faded from it and the statue crashed to the ground, crumbling as it did so. It was not made of adamantium after all.

 

Still, the stasis field that preserved it was functional and Binar ordered another landing party to excavate it. A stasis field that could easily preserve a Baneblade would be useful, no doubt.

 

The savages still attacked. I had thought it best to move quickly, using mostly lighter Damaran troops, and left the Chimera aboard. It had proven effective, though I'm still not sure it was the most efficient. The Damarans were eager and capable, I only saw overlapping lasfire and heard the chatter of autocannon--for what purpose I didn't care to know. 

 

We were greeted on a low ridge by the survivors. Their first shots at us proved to be ill-aimed. Thankfully, the Stromgard obeyed my orders not to retaliate. The sight of a Navigator and an Astropath, for once, brought joy to Imperials' hearts and they quickly surrendered. There were few officers among them, the one in charge being a young lieutenant in charge of a damage control team when the order to abandon the ship was given. 

 

I shot him first. 

 

Never impersonate a Naval officer. The firefight was quick and decidedly lopsided. 

 

We found bones in their camp, gnawed and baked, cracked open for their marrow. Raakata had none of Naduesh's bounty. Only then did I understand why the savages feared us so: these renegades had fallen from the sky and preyed on them, literally. They feared we would join with them, or thought we were the same. 

 

A single streak of light struck the renegade's camp as we lifted off.

Edited by Marwynn
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UNDER A STORM SUN

 

Raakata tested me in more ways than one. High winds tore at us every time we descended, investigating another signal, another call for help. I've recovered less than three dozen Navy crewmen and killed ten times that many renegades or savages. Storms vomited from the wracked skies at a whim of a child god, and we took shelter in the very caves where we had slaughtered.

 
I had heard of the wastelands of Zayth, of that arid and denuded wasteland of unrelenting war. I would find that to be more preferable to the carrion existence of these Raakatans, subsiding on the corpses of their ancestors, in living fear and anger towards anything unlike them. Yes, I know full well how ironic that is, **** my soul. 
 
We have recovered more stasis generators and precious little worth preserving. I do not believe Toros Umboldt failed in his last two expeditions as he claimed and was derided for. Most of the hive cities we've ventured in have signs of heavy excavation. Whatever treasures rotted within have been extracted long ago. Still, our sorties have not been without some reward. Life finds a way, remember that.

Several biologis have joined our rescue missions to study the ruined ecosystem of the planet. Idris, Trelany, and I all accompanied one each in our separate missions. We returned with goop, disgusting scrapings, and what appeared to be the remains of an Ork's breakfast. The biologis believes they can be cultivated to absorb pollutants from various forge worlds and even provide an alternate means of sustenance. I hope to never be that hungry.

 
I had the free captains of the Majestic Benefit and Shining Trust aboard for dinner several times. They were heavy laden with supplies and I had the facilities to make use of them and conduct repairs on all our vessels. It was then I discovered they were slavers. Out here, beyond the bounds of the Imperium, no law against slavery exists. In fact, slavery is not even illegal in most parts of the Imperium. I'm sure vast sums of our own House's fortunes were built on the backs of slaves, and that my gun crews would scarcely consider their lives anything but slavery. But it rankles.
 
How did I know? Massive crew losses on both transport ships yet they had manpower to spare hauling all their supplies and making repairs around the clock. Both alluded to a powerful vessel nearby that they considered an ally, more than the Blessed Enterprise's match one even said. They were quite surprised to learn that we had journeyed from Vaporious to Naduesh--they assumed we came straight from Winterscale's Realm or Damaris. They can only mean the Illustrious and its fool crew.
 
Predators. Would-be wolves in sheep's clothing. I sat there, smiled, joked, even drank and acted the fool as if a grand cruiser didn't hang over our heads, ready to kill us all. They hoped I would see reason, or be as cowardly, and seek the protection of a true cruiser. I nearly shot them both then. Instead, I asked for a meeting and they gave me a chart to a world deep into the Heathen Stars. They called it Bar Abas, a primitive world they used as a way point. It was home to teeming millions all easily trained and sold.
 
Curiously, neither seemed remotely curious about the system. The Lords of the Seas had yet to even launch a single lander to visit the planet below. I suspect again that Raakata is not as unknown or as lost as I was lead to believe. Both free captains, Vurras Albri and Totenhem Mulk, believed I had been rounding up savages to fill my barracks and galleys, explaining the heavy landers. Raakatan warriors were apparently prized.
 
Both transports sat fat and happy at the Blessed Enterprise's flanks. Their trusted crew had even been allowed on board, at select locations, while my larger and more experienced crew had the run of their ships. After all, they were refilling our stocks with spares.
 
The next shift proceeded like the rest. Instead of repair teams, squads of armsmen boarded both ships. I didn't bother joining the attacks, neither one deserved my attention. The senior officers of both transports, Q-ships it appears, were brought aboard. Since I had no real brigs, and hand no interest in allowing them quarters, I ordered they be kept in stasis. If the generators failed they'd suffocate to death if their falls didn't kill them instantly.
 
All senior and trusted crewmen from both ships were rounded up. Those that resisted were eliminated and the rest were dumped on to Raakata. I made sure each had an autopistol with one bullet, an extravagance for a co-opted tradition.

I do abhor slavers.

 
The Majestic Benefit and Shining Trust are no more. They are now the Strom Dynasty Ships Free Endeavour and Duchess Mallory. Overly dramatic, but their names suit them. Now if I only had the officers.
 
The addition of the two ships to the Strom dynasty fleet was not without incident. Both had legal charters granting them access to many services, including those of the Navis Nobilite. Navigator Idris met with each twice. Both were willing to stay on and serve Idris' own House in a complex layer of favours and secrets that bound them. I was glad that I didn't have to fight one--I have seen Idris in combat and she is terrible to behold as an ally.
 
Of course, one of them lied. I would imagine both did, but one did so in Trelany's presence and was called out on it. He panicked and the resulting mess still leaves the foul smell of the warp in those rooms. I have ordered it sealed until Sevia can conduct some rites and cleanse the place. In the fool's place, Idris has assigned one of her junior Navigators to the Duchess Mallory. His death also granted us access to the late Navis' charts.
 
Bar Abas was only a week's journey away. We could make it in two weeks' time if we headed out now, conduct repairs while underway.
 
I almost gave the order when I remembered the Lords of the Seas. It could not have missed the fighting, no matter how one-sided it was.
 
Dinner. Aboard the Boro flagship--as we thought it was--had to be the most hazardous thing I'd done in the week since our arrival. We were received in good fashion and I met Lord-Admiral Gavil Boro. The man certainly had earned the rank, judging by the tremendous amount of medals pinned to his chest. Cherubs chased after him with even more medals on wound capes.
 
We exchanged the traditional gifts. Only the Old Families did so, and only with each other. I gave a piece of wood from Terra's long dead forests. He gave a single drop of water from Terra's parched oceans. This was done in secret, and you, young Strom scion, will have to learn how on your own.
 
I had brought more than just that gift, I brought the free captains as well. I wrought a tale of disgust at finding slavers and quickly sought to punish them and expand my fleet at the same time. It was well received, I thought. Until I realized how familiar the lord-admiral was with the two.

It was no mistake. The Lords of the Seas back on Naduesh had fired first, it had feared... Betrayal? Somehow, it was vulnerable to a pack of transport ships. The realization hit me as dessert was served. They were partners. The Boro were in on the slave trade, along with the Illustrious' rogue trader. Two dynasties? It was not unheard of, but with one being the isolationist Boro it was unbelievable.

 
We dined and danced and stayed the night. My staff had picked up on my tension and didn't dine or dance as much as they could have. We were now prisoners aboard quite possibly the largest vessel in the Koronus Expanse.
 
=====================
 
 
That was last week's adventure. I left out most of the fighting details for the gritty RP layer underneath. Also left out all the other things the other characters did.
 
Won't be a game tomorrow. But it should give us plenty of time to figure out how to escape.
 
Or maybe even capture the ship?
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SALVATOR
 
A pastoral world orbiting a timid star, Salvator was discovered nearly two hundred years ago. Situated within the Heathen Stars, the system was considered an acceptable way station due to the relative abundance of fresh water, clean air, and mostly edible herbivores that roamed the planet. The planet and system grew to accommodate the rare traffic of merchants and explorers, though its light industries were kept in orbit so as to leave the world as pristine as possible. 

When representatives of the Missionaria Galaxia arrived less than 50 years ago they did so with the intent of making Salvator--then known as Aecus--the hub for their proselytizing. Donations and funds poured in, gradually expanding the Missionaria Galaxia's presence on the world. Less than a decade ago. Salvator was entertaining the notion of requesting an official Administratum visit with the intent of being officially recognized as an Imperial colony. The system's trade was growing by the day until the Monarch of Whispers arrived. 
 
Hundreds of thousands of missionaries were present on Salvator, many were newcome to the Expanse and awaiting orders or returning from their own pilgrimages. Surrounding them were millions more, their flock of new converts from nearby systems and passing ships. Ember Nostromo, renegade Navigator and pirate captain, ended all of that and set the quiet world on fire. She laughed as Liberdad, the primary continent, broke apart and fell into a sea of molten rock. Astropaths will sometimes report this strange laughter when near Salvator. 
 
The system is far too convenient a resting point to be completely ignored. Its orbital facilities--what little the Monarch of Whispers did not destroy--have been left to rot, their orbits decaying. There's a rumour that a second settlement was established on Salvator's lone moon, but the system is frequented now by renegades, pirates, and slavers not to mention xenos. If such a port did exist it might not be too welcoming of Imperials. 
 
Salvator itself is only beginning to calm down seismically. Earthquakes have changed the landscape, devastating the docile wildlife and throwing the ecosystem at risk. Scans by traders and merchants show that the molten wound, the Red Scar, contains high concentrations of very useful minerals unearthed from deep within the core. Even the gases released by the death of a continent can be harnessed for profit. The numerous freshwater rivers and lakes are now heavily polluted and present an ongoing risk to the world's oceans. An Explorator who found herself on the planet detected diluted promethium in the running water. 

It seems even in death Salvator may still be useful.


------------------------
++FOR YOUR EYES ONLY++
++TO: LORD-CAPTAIN ANTON STROM++
++FROM: MAGOS BINAR++
 
As per your earlier instructions I have allowed certain tech priests free access to both ships. Most have concerned themselves with the Navy ship: it's not often examples of Voss engineering can be examined so closely. A few have ventured aboard the raider with the understanding that it is a favour granted by you to myself. 
 
 
Tempestor Three
 
Early scans proved to be quite misleading. The Falchion class frigate is heavily damaged with one third of its hull mangled by macro-fire yet its internal systems remain mostly intact. Life support was systematically destroyed, I believe by the crew, so as to make the ship unusable as they no longer had access to the Warp engine or plasma drives. 
 
In short, the ship can be returned to active operations in a month's time. Less if the crews of both Majestic Benefit and Shining Trust ++EDIT: Free Endeavour and Duchess Mallory++ can spare several work crews. I have discovered one torpedo halfway between the launcher and the bay where it was stored seemingly abandoned. Blood coats most of it. As the bay itself was heavily damaged I have ordered the servitors to load it into a tube. They should finish in the next few days. 

 
Blackblade
 
The heretech vessel is intriguing. It is mostly a well-preserved shell, however, as the single torpedo that penetrated and detonated within spread its plasma fires to nearly all major components. I have lost seventeen work crew and fourteen servitors in trying to gain access. As I know the lord-captain views the loss of life as inefficient, I will conduct most of the scouting by the use of servo-skills. The Damarans have been of great help as well, well experienced they are in unstable conditions. 
 
Renegade star charts were recovered though no signs of a Navigator spire is evident in the design. Damage patterns also do not indicate that it was lost in battle. Perhaps it was consumed in plasma fire, yet the storage of the star charts on the bridge suggests a different purpose. Trophies? It seems likely, though how this vessel traverses the Warp is difficult to fathom; it even lacks advanced cogitators to handle those intense calculations. Scuttling charges have been placed.
 
The Blackblade's rear half was mostly undamaged. Her Warp engine was consumed in the explosion but did not detonate, surprisingly enough. The plasma drive can be repaired though it seems to be a common STC pattern and would power little as few components remain functional. Securing examples of the advanced cogitator linkages was my priority and it resulted in several deaths. However, one trooper found a supply bay filled with spares. I have discreetly loaded them back to the Blessed Enterprise
 
 
 
------------------------
 
Lord-Captain Strom,
 
Please find attached my first report regarding the slave crews of both transports we recently liberated. Most are locals, from star systems that are not on any charts. I have heard the names of several of these worlds in missives from the Missionaria Galaxia; many had a limited trade route with Salvator decades ago. These were fledgling worlds, newly returned to the Emperor's teachings. Many were eager to begin tithing, to join the fight against the Enemy--whoever they may be.
 
It seems that when Salvator was razed many of the merchant ships ferrying missionaries and supplies were taken. I've also attached charts of the Salvator system. They were ambushed in the outer reaches of the system, there are only a few clear passages to the inner worlds in this otherwise tame system. Yes, I am blatantly enticing you with prizes. The new mission on Vaporious will not have the same reach and access as the one on Salvator did, and these heathen worlds are not only lost to us but are actively supporting the Great Enemy, unknowingly.
 
You'll find transcripts of interviews with some of the slaves. They all believe they are helping the Imperium, that they are already a part of it, and serve these raiders and renegades gladly. It churns my stomach. Worlds such as Atroxia and Lintol were said to be highly productive agriworlds. Vlaas is a mining system and Tur-Tur is a refinery world in it, once said to rival the output of an entire cluster. All are in various states of ruin, but even these renegades know how to restart simple economies.
 
I trust you will make the right decision, for your dynasty, and for the Imperium.
 
 
Sevia
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UNDER THE SEAS
 
I had several visitors during the night, lovelies who had been demure and reserved during dinner and had none of that restraint afterwards. It almost took my mind off the insult of my quarter's decor. New drapes, new bed, new everything. I made sure they were all a little less new by morning.
 
Somehow, I woke up in a different bed in a different part of the spire we were housed in. One of the ladies, Ysema, owned this room. It was filled with new things as well. I remarked at this to them and it seemed to be a point of pride for her. All Imperials that I have met held to the belief that the older the better, especially when it came to decoration. If it couldn't be truly old it must look old.
 
It wasn't the same here. That worried me.
 
You should have spent most of your life amongst the aristocracy. You know how depraved, how vain, how utterly biting they can be. Yet, I felt none of that. Instead I'm reminded of a siege.
 
We broke fast with some Nadueshi fruits and nuts and we were taken to a tour. Judging by some of my staff's general state I wasn't alone in having a sleepless night. The Magos had spent the night conducting his own tour of the ship's systems. He had one troubling statistic for me: there were not enough crew.
 
The passageways were filled with ratings carrying on their normal tasks, but I could see shoddy work with my eyes closed. They were unused to the work they were carrying out, many consulting dataslates or chanting litanies in halting tones. I did not see a tech-priest amongst them. There should be at least one on every deck, yet as we continued with the utterly frivolous domes and scryspaces--all newly furnished--I saw the same teams conducting the same shoddy repairs just out of sight.
 
Brunch was a less stuffy affair than dinner though considerably more formal than my breakfast. The Boro vassals finally began to act as all aristocracy did and began to insinuate a great many things. They had become far too familiar with me. I made sure they remembered they were only peers to each other.
 
Lord-Admiral Gavil joined us for the meal and I wasted half an hour commenting on his ship despite having only seen spires and theatres and plazas. I further congratulated him on just how new everything was. The vassals all smiled at each other with that but not the lord-admiral. He had served in Battlefleet Calixis, same as I. He had swam in the same seas. That was an insult even if everyone else mistook it for a complement.
 
The vassals were left behind as we were ushered into the bridge. Here was a thing of antiquity. Of ancient history. Cogitators clacked with precise finality, the bridge thrummed with power and it centred into the waiting command throne, hovering high above the entire bridge and all its sunken alcoves and lowered pods. There were hundreds here with none of the unfamiliarity we witnessed earlier.
 
But some had the same look, the same faces. I thought nothing of it then, clans and tribes form on many void ships after all.
 
It was impressive. But not as impressive as the hololith of the Blessed Enterprise in the middle of the space with the Duchess Mallory and Free Endeavour. The resolution was clearer than I expected, and the runes indicated they had a very clear picture of my cruiser's readiness despite a whole planet in between.
 
Binar, however, had briefed me on it before the tour. He had introduced a small indigestible bit of datum that was now multiplying, corroding the augurs. I saw it in the runes displaying around the Blessed Enterprise. The lord-admiral mistook my stare for fear.
 
The privacy field fell like a gentle mist. We were joined by the Boro Navigator and Astropath both and introduced ourselves as proper. They did not partake of the meals.

Idris recognized the Navigator, of the House Li-Tsai, and wondered aloud at that. Xivana then begged herself away and the Astropath, Gorj, did so as well. Idris and I were familiar with the Navis Houses the Boro dealt with and Li-Tsai was a small upstart, a mercantile family from an offshoot of lesser Houses. Their serving the Boro would have been big news.
 
The lord-admiral knew this and didn't seem to care. That worried me a bit.
 
Trelany had been silent in all of this so far, but her mind had been busy. She too had spent the night awake, in communion with her brothers and sisters on board the Blessed Enterprise and also here. This Astropath, whom a month ago I nearly Commissar'd, had been instrumental in our plan.
 
"How is it that a vessel half again the size of mine has less than half the crew?" I asked Gavil with a smile. He was not amused.
 
He went on about the failing fortunes of the Boro. The desperate pacts he had made, that I knew so very little about the pressures of an ancient dynasty crumbling just as he came of age. Thankfully, the bombers shut him up.
 
Whatever the augur array the Lords of the Seas had was ancient and watchful. It was, however, focused to the void and wrapped itself around a planet. Bain Iosef saw no need to announce their coming and simply flew the squadrons into the atmosphere. Polar orbits were for victorious ships, hovering over worlds they owned, without any fear of retaliation from the surface below. Raakata's ruins were no threat to anyone and so it had been a perfect first strike.
 
The grand cruiser's turrets did not fire at first and when they did the crews were working blind. The first squadron struck the augury spines, wrecking the ancient masterwork in moments. I regretted it but we had no choice.
 
The second and third squadrons struck at the rents in the grand cruiser's broadsides. It was prudent to target the vessel's wounds so recently repaired, but I felt some small shame in doing so. The fourth squadron landed near the control spire, just below the bridge.
 
Faithful armsmen, coming to rescue me. And, of course, everyone else.
 
Lord-Admiral Boro was gracious in defeat. I could not believe it, I had won.
 
 
LORDS NO MORE
 
Of course, it was not that simple. With the ship blind we were not alerted to the xenos until they were upon us. Astropath Gorj, the man who had orchestrated the mutiny, died as a pale grey light swallowed the forward half of the bridge.
 
Navigator Xivana ran from her guards and joined us as the lord-admiral's eyes grew panicked. He called me a Traitor, working with the foul xenos. I shook my head and shot him twice. The plasma bolts merely curved around him and he turned away.
 
The flight to the landing craft was swift. I turned away a few lowly ratings who were clambering to join us, but some of the vassals, and their daughters, were more than welcome. The three that had welcomed me that evening were well prepared for the voyage.
 
Pale light consumed the outnumbered crew. Our bombers turned back in a futile attempt to distract the Stryxis xebec mauling the Lords of the Seas but they could do little. I ordered both Binar and Trelany to convey my orders for them to return to base, and the finally did.

Bain Iosef greeted us along with a small army of Stromgard. Our refugees and co-conspirators leapt aboard the boats and we were away. Not all of the boats made it past the turrets, but most did. We fell into the atmosphere and made way for the Blessed Enterprise which was underway and ready to recover her squadrons.
 
Somehow the Lords of the Seas' lance turrets fired and gnawed into the chained vessels of the xebec. The lead ship was unknown to me, but it bled fire as the lancefire burrowed deep into the very same Stryxis vessel we met in Vaporious. The xenos knew the Illustrious, I'm sure of it now, just as they know the Lords of the Seas. Both trafficked in slaves and xenotech, just as the two transports that I had captured.
 
The Heathen Stars, indeed.
 

STORM'S END
 
Somehow the Lords of the Seas fought the Stryxis away. Two of its lesser vessels had been hewn off by the grand cruiser's lances, drifting away from it as the xebec charged towards the asteroid field.
 
The Blessed Enterprise headed in the opposite direction. Our two new vessels had already made for the outer edges of the system while we kept the rear-guard. The Boro did not fire at us.
 
Navigator Xivana told us why: there were three other Navigators, bound in stasis deep within the ship. The Lords of the Seas had no need of her. This infuriated Idris, we might have found a way to liberate them, but it was done. Xivana pledged herself, and her House's services, to the dynasty. House Li-Tsai would have more to gain from that than we would in the short term, but it would be a good long relationship provided we survive.
 
We managed to hide ourselves in the gas giant's gravimetric shadow for a few days. The Stryxis had the same idea and wandered into our aft. They demanded a trade, our personnel for trinkets, even as they closed with multiple weapons hot and ready to fire.
 
Tempestor Three loosed her remaining torpedo then. It swam straight to the lead ship and punctured deep before detonating inside. The other vessels chained to it, and each other, shuffled violently as they tried to break away.

I had a choice then. The xebec had a Dauntless hull and a Lathe hull chained at its flanks. Neither appeared warp worthy on its own, but they were valuable all the same.
 
I ordered a bombing run to batter the still active parts of the xebec as we prepared to board. We could only choose one, the Lords of the Seas had spotted the detonation and was only a few hours away.
 
I chose the Lathe. The Dauntless had no colours I recognized, but the Lathe was an Explorator vessel.
 
Seeing as how Goddard Thraves was doing a great job captaining the vessel, I decided to lead the attack myself. The bombers swatted away the sputtering fire with focused melta fire and plasma strikes and we docked at the cratered hull of the monitor-cruiser.
 
Binar's fears were made real as soon as we stepped aboard. What had been crafted as a work of devotion to the Machine God was now a heretech ship filled to the brim with xenos equipment. Not even the Lathe-class' gellar field generators remained. Waves of slave things died to us, and I banked my rage at seeing Aquila tattoos on many of the blasted forms. We fought to the main cogitator bank and found it still operational, still untouched.
 
The Magos was able to soothe the machine spirits around it and address the cogitator directly. It furnished him with a complete copy of its astrologs and charts, as well as select items from its databanks. Somehow it felt shame, at least that was the best way Binar explained it to me.
 
It was no longer warp worthy on its own, all hopes of taking the ship away was dashed. Only the lead ship had a warp engine apparently. The cogitator then indicated a nearby room that we needed to visit on our way off the vessel. Binar spent some more time in communion with it then led us away.
 
The room was a cathedral museum. Strange pieces of archeotech hovered in stasis all around us, none of which we could carry. But detailed physical scans were there and I sent my armsmen to secure them all. Binar, strangely, ignored it and made for one item in the corner. He fell on his knees and shouted, scaring us all.
 
All I saw were a few burnt pages of some sort of schematic. Then I understood. This one we had to carry.
 
The fighting on the way back was difficult, and Binar was less than his calculating self. I had the STC fragment strapped to my back, stasis generator and all, and we waded through the slave things of the Stryxis.
 
Truly, I owe Lyza for this. Without the power armour I wouldn't have been able to carry the fragment with me, it was far too fragile to be transported in any other fashion.
 
We departed just as the Lords of the Seas entered weapon range. The xebec died, but not before Stryxis slaves began boarding the grand cruiser.
 
Four ships in our flotilla translated as one.
 
 

=========================
 
So ends our Raakatan adventure!
 
This is actually two sessions on two separate days, hence the shifting players and so on. I wasn't even there for what some of the players did, namely the plotting.
 
We made out like bandits though. And yes, it's an STC fragment we recovered from the unnamed Lathe-class vessel. Of what, I don't know.
 
I'm sure travelling with two vessels that may be renowned slave ships and a damaged navy frigate will work out fine! We're debating heading to the Breaking Yards or going straight home to Damaris.
Edited by Marwynn
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LOST TOGETHER
 
I was the first to set foot on the hulk. We had strained against the Empyrean for ten days, pressing for Zayth and a hope of a safe harbour. We were four when we left Raakata but only three of us translated. It took two weeks until we found the Duchess Mallory whole but not intact. Only Sevia and I went aboard; it was our duty to consign the ship and her crew to the Emperor. I pray they died quickly. I pray they died.
 
The Aesperanza and Fair Trade arrived while we were conducting our search bringing with them supplies and news. Word about the surface of Naduesh being unsafe except for one trading port had already spread, which was good. The rest, however, was not. More ships had been lost in the last few months than in the last year in the Heathen Stars, one of the few known regions in the Expanse with supposedly stable routes.

As we effected repairs and rigged for a long haul more ships arrived at Zayth all bearing the same weary stories. I took the liberty of making use of the Fair Trade's empty holds and transferred the Blessed Enterprise's various pieces of loot over. It was difficult work and I needed to keep the crew busy lest rumours sink us all.
 
Everyone had the same thought: a warp storm was coming and it could swallow the region whole. I had staked the future of my dynasty in the Heathen Stars and if we took all we had right now to Damaris the dynasty would still lose half of what we had invested. More than that, I would lose tens of thousands of loyal men and women. That would cripple us, but we might stumble on.
 
A part of me looked at the war world, so ignorant of what was happening outside of it, and wanted to scheme and steal from them. They lived in city sized land-ships, who knew what archeotech they possessed? The temptation was fleeting.
 
More and more ships arrived at Zayth, nearly two dozen of us now only a week after we had returned from our search. We were ready to abandon it all.

 
THE STORM BEFORE THE QUIET
 
Lyza was furious. We had engaged slavers and pirates, the very things she wanted to fight, had gone to fabled Raakata and came back with odd trophies, and fought our way free from a grand cruiser and a xenos vessel all in the month it took her to secure Vaporious and the surrounding systems. I presented each of her senior staff with gifts of weapons and armour in thanks for their loyal service to the dynasty. To Lyza Strom herself I gave a pair of pistols--one bolt, one plasma--both ancient patterns that would offset the loss of her favourite laspistol.

I also ordered an item taken out of deep stasis and granted it to her in private. It was a simple enough amulet for a rogue trader heiress: gold and silver chain with an emerald and sapphire locked inside a Strom sigil. It concealed a power field generator and was a priceless dynasty relic. It also belonged to my mother.
 
It shut her up for a week.
 
That gave me time to transfer some of the officers from under her command to mine. They had learned daring under her, I will teach them duty and now was a perfect time. Naturally, as the largest vessel in the system the other captains looked to us to lead, or watched us in fear. I set my staff to work as it was past time we began thinking like a dynasty with a fleet again.

Bain took to his tasks well, organizing squadrons and using our attack craft to provide them all with a sense of security. He even arranged for limited trades to share supplies, garnering us good will and positioning us as arbiters. Sevia leapt at the chance to minister to these frightened voidfarers--her impassioned sermons lacked the fire and brimstone so common from other missionaries but made her all the more impactful. Idris had the hardest time of it all, mostly due to the sheer number of Navis present, all vying for a place in the pecking order. Her insight was that they were all deeply afraid and she used it to quiet the Navigators. Even Binar emerged from his laboratorium and conferred with other tech priests, namely Enginseer Primes of other vessels, and shared information that bound this fleet tightly to us.
 
It was then up to me. What could go wrong?
 
Not all of the ships present were legitimate merchants. That was unsurprising, but many recognized the Free Endeavour no matter how well we scrubbed its codes. A Navy captain has the luxury to identify a target as an enemy or a friendly. I do not. These ships dealt with slavers to make the profits demanded of them by powerful cartels. That they empowered renegades and pirates to cause more harm didn't affect them, unless they were set upon and sold as slaves. Many worked for less than decent dynasties, promising newly re-discovered human settlements work off-world and enslaving them. Exhuming xenotech was dangerous work and required replacements for its work force. Orks and Chaos Reavers had other uses for human slaves as well.

There were also many ships that acted as intermediaries, never knowing--or caring--what the foodstuffs and equipment they brought in was used for. How I wish I could seize them all and haul them to the nearest Navy port.
 
Then I realized I wouldn't have to. Most wanted to head to Winterscale's Realm--that den of legitimized piracy--but I could be convincing if needed. I shared our struggle to escape Naduesh, emphasizing that our humble trade post was the only safe spot near the planet, and then our flight from Raakata which was not believed until I supplied all the proof they could ever want. That route was dangerous and I would not travel to Winterscale's Realm through Naduesh. There was fear and agreement there.
 
But Damaris, my destination from the start, well that route took us through major trade lanes. We could even make way for the Breaking Yards for any repairs, but we could simply sail straight to Damaris. It had been done once before, and the ships that did it were with us.
 
Of course, Damaris had no official Imperial Navy presence. It was, however, becoming quite the port-of-call for Battlefleet Koronus' patrols in the Foundling Worlds. If they seized a dozen ships or so and petitioned me to lend aid, I would of course grant that request.

 
THE TEMPEST
 
Swift, dangerous vessels translated then and were not answering any hails and failed to identify themselves. It was too late to steer clear of them.

They scattered Bain's perfectly organized squadrons as the transports panicked, and ordered a big fat galleon called the Bard of Ulstor to heave-to. When the galleon refused and rolled out its cruiser-sized broadsides it was the end for it. The squadron fired as one and the galleon's void shields shattered almost immediately. The frigates split, each taking a destroyer with it, and struck at the fore and aft. The galleon lacked chase armaments and was too fat to maneuver its guns.

We were too distant to interfere. Too many fat freighters in our way, even launching our bombers would have been fruitless as the formations dissolved and each headed their own way.
 
The galleon surrendered soon after. There had been a sudden change in leadership aboard the Bard and I had to concern myself with ordering the scared transports back together lest they slam into each other, or to us. We were too late to save the Bard. Bain's system of designating squadrons and appointing "lead ships" proved useful and we managed to calm the merchant vessels eventually. It was foolish to scatter as they did, we were accelerating hard up to translation velocity and they simply could've burned forward and jumped on their own.
 
The frigates eventually slowed and then matched the relative velocity of the galleon. Cutters were launched--a prize crew--and we waited.
 
The only message I received was an addendum in ident codes. The Bard of Ulstor was now a prize of the Imperial Navy.

-----

David Bodaker, Tempestor Squadron commander, had been courteous enough to explain his actions. It seems they did receive our astropathic messages after all, though I expected to hand off Tempestor Three to someone over at Damaris. It was interesting, however, that it was Commander Bodaker and not Lord-Commander Bodaker. It meant they were not engaged on a long patrol and he was not granted all the freedom he may need. He had been deployed on a specific mission, and it wasn't just hunting renegades.
 
Our long jump to Damaris had been cancelled. It wasn't the squadron that stopped us, not directly. They had taken part of that route, returning from the Breaking Yards in search of their lost comrade. But the route itself was not stable. They were ejected three times, confirmed by their own Navigators, and barely made it to Zayth.
 
I handed the frigate over with little fuss and only a little wrangling for handwritten and verified writs, sealed in triplicate with the various Navis Houses. It was a lowly frigate, but I returned it to the Navy, and I will make that count. I was glad to lose Tempestor Three, it meant more crew could be returned to our now four vessels. I then insisted that the supplies we had laid in the frigate would need to be paid for, or replaced. Commander Bodaker was well experienced--he allowed a team lead by Thraves access to their captured prize's inventory and we took on valuable goods to recoup our losses. And then some. I never did inquire about the Bard's sins.
 
The news, however, was not taken well by the fleet of refugees.
 
There were mutinies, bloody and unfaithful mutinies, and we received calls for help from all sides. Some ships left on their own or in their squadrons. It was an extreme situation, that was the only reason I interfered. It was also an opportunity and I was tempted again. Bain and Sevia were instrumental in these events, putting down the more violent mutineers quickly while restoring order. Idris, Trelany, and myself coordinated as best we could, though I mostly stopped other vessels from trying to interfere.
 
We lost none of the remaining ships, but somehow we had managed to eliminate the senior crew of two more transports. Idris warned that the warp was becoming murky like it did just before a storm and out of options I sent prize crews aboard to take command. The established routes that made Zayth valuable were now darkening. We had few choices left to us.

 
IN THE SHADOW OF SALVATION

 
Salvator was once Aecus, a system nestled deep within the Heathen Stars. Missionaries had used it as a hub, to reach out to the nearby systems that were now being enslaved en masse, until the planet was killed from orbit by a mad Navigator. The system lacked any major stable routes on its own, but was clear in the warp and had numerous minor routes that radiated from it. We fled there, some vessels in the fleet much more familiar with the system than others. Through means I do not understand, Idris was able to keep the Blessed Enterprise in the middle of the fleet, well in sight for the other Navigators to follow. It was difficult going and I feared we might lose a few more ships like we had the Duchess Mallory.
 
We found more ships there than I had ever seen in the Expanse outside of Footfall. A hundred vessels littered the system, many obviously hostile to each other. These ships were the lifeblood of the Heathen Stars, the ones who plied lonely routes and kept the region alive. The arrival of such a large force with a Navy squadron escort sent many of them in a panic. I don't know why they did so, one cruiser, six frigates and destroyers, plus an assortment of armed transports could not deal with the firepower of armed transports alone. Then I realized they were far from organized.
 
Thankfully, there was no furious grand cruiser waiting for us. We picked up the Wren ships, with three vessels identifying themselves as In The Moment and the Sollux Incarna surrounded by pilgrim vessels. A handful of scattered cruisers, mostly older hulls that were no longer in service, formed backbones of squadrons, and freighters, passenger ships, merchant traders, miners, and salvagers formed the rest.
 
Wise minds think alike, I'm told. I hate to think, however, that I had that much in common with these people.
 
Commander Bodaker tried to take charge. I admired the young man's frankness, but a galleon that was sure to be familiar to many present was now identifying itself as a Navy prize and that undermined any attempts he made. It was not a coincidence that I moved the fleet away from Tempestor Squadron which kept station as the picket force to the system's jump point. Many of our ships needed to effect repairs at an anchorage and we diverted to an outer planet that appeared unclaimed. We settled into orbits and kept good order.
 
While the commander tried to take charge I was putting on a show. I placed the Blessed Enterprise in high polar orbit, with the Aesperanza covering the south pole. Cutters and other craft launched from us to deliver supplies or shift them around the various ships and by the pattern of the vox calls in our little fleet, it became apparent that they all deferred to the Blessed Enterprise no matter what former affiliation they held.

Slowly, our fleet grew as those not tied with the larger formations drifted closer until they began petitioning to join. I left it to Bain to organize the details, but I made sure they understood that this was no democracy. They did as I said or they left, or were left.
 
For some reason, they agreed.
 
The planet we had chosen was surprisingly useful. It was an ice world and had frozen gases that our void ships badly needed. I ordered work parties from all the ships and left it to Binar to facilitate the dispersal of the needed resources. One of its moons had several hulks, the remains of passenger ships that had fled Salvator's destruction decades ago. Sevia lead that mission even as we stripped the dead ships for useful parts. A large comet trapped in a wild orbit was set upon by the more courageous ship crews and began hacking away at the ice water.
 
Sevia had remarked that Salvator itself and its moons and orbital facilities were not occupied. I had noticed the same thing and had hoped to avoid needing those run-down facilities. Trelany had already began searching for anything living still in the region--she felt traces, echoes and maybe a community on one of the moons. Without even being asked Binar provided Sevia with a project timeline for repairs to the void station and other orbital facilities. They made a compelling argument.
 
It was up to Idris and myself to sell it to not just our fleet, but everyone present. Laying anchor at a fringe world was acceptable behaviour--taking control of the core world and the only dockyard, as rundown as it was, would trigger a shooting battle.
 
Thankfully, two days after our arrival the dynasty transport Swift Sunrise translated into the system, overladen with food and livestock from Naduesh meant for Vaporious. We had managed to get in contact while still in Zayth and redirected her to Salvator, It had been too late to order her to uproot the trade post of all personnel. While rations remained at healthy levels throughout the fleet though I knew the captains weren't completely honest with how much they truly had. A little insurance, a bargaining token, was good to have.
 
For instance, a dinner with some naval officers and senior representatives from each flotilla.

-------
 
The Blessed Enterprise had rolled and shone the lights dancing on the planet's atmosphere above down on us. The observation dome had been quickly, but tastefully, repurposed for hosting the grand banquet. Tempestor Squadron may not have been on a long patrol but it didn't mean they hadn't been in the void for years already. There was entertainment for the warrant officers below, plenty of fresh food, and a calm pleasant air aided by live musicians. I swear, I don't know where Lyza keeps them all. The other captains were not used to such grand fare and were easy to accommodate and woo.
 
I paid little heed to the commander's entreaties a few days before. I kept an ear open to what he said, but they were all empty attempts at being useful. It had been quite damaging, I suppose. We all made our rounds, charming, bribing, implying, and just plain behaving like the kind of people I wanted to shoot when I was younger.
 
There was support for the idea of a central dock, a common one used by all as needed. It was simple pragmatism. Voidfarers knew how to ride out warp storms.
 
I tried to explain as much to the commander over dinner but he wouldn't listen. It was not until much later, once the party had mostly died down, that he confided in me. We were not suffering the onset of a warp storm. Or rather, we were, but there was something else. He would not say anything further.
 
All warmth and good nature fled me then.

A space hulk. There was a damned space hulk in the Heathen Stars.
 
Battlefleet Koronus called it Midnight's Lair and tracked it from the Accursed Demesne by several patrol ships. Tempestor Squadron was sent in, as proper protocol demanded, to track the hulk before the battlefleet's limited resources could be called in.

The commander said none of this. I pieced it together from Tempestor Three's log fragments and my own experience. I could not explain why they fought renegade ships, but opportunism explains much in my experience.
 
I had hoped that Midnight's Lair had been a codename for an unknown pirate base, a capital vessel perhaps. It still may very well be true, but they would be pirates of the worst kind.
 
This was no salvage mission then. I know from experience how hulks can interfere with the warp, but they only did so on local levels. To interfere with a whole region meant sorcery or that the Lair was one of the largest ever recorded. Idris had an insight on this: it could mean neither. The Hecaton Rifts were nearby--a hulk that had yet to translate into sidereal space could act as a funnel, pouring the more tumultuous energy into the region. The logic escaped me, but I trusted her instincts.
 
It was clear though that no help would arrive in time. I have only ever witnessed a space hulk recovery operation once. Only Astartes were allowed to board it, and some priests of the Machine Cult, and we cut away three hulls before the hulk was pulled back in the warp. I was a junior lieutenant then, privy to few things, but I knew many Astartes died in cleansing it from its inhabitants.
 
All I remembered is that all the personnel the Navy sent died. They were killed aboard the space hulk or executed afterwards by the ship's commissar. You can imagine how very much I would like to avoid it. Profits be damned, what good is it for a trader to gain the galaxy but lose his dynasty? Or his life?
 
We will wait until the hulk shows itself. The fools will flock to it and die in droves, adding their hulls to its bulk. By then, the warp should calm down and I'll lead any and all who want to leave away from here.
 

By the Emperor, please let this be.

 

 

==================

 

I took a back seat with this session, as the acting GM, and allowed the players to pretty much set the tone and direction, and I provided the layers.

 

We lost the Duchess Mallory due to battle damage, it got hit by a lot of things in the previous session and did not make it. That's a blow, especially since there were quite a few armsmen aboard.

 

The underlying plot is beginning to reveal itself. It's something that I actually suggested to the GM, using something from the History of the Koronus Expanse.

 

Assembling and organizing the fleet, with some complications, their own self-defined quests, even the idea of bringing a wrecked void station back online were all their ideas. I provided the background materials of course, but they gladly took to it.

 

There's also something that's happening that my Rogue Trader doesn't know about, so I left it out. But my GM knows about it.

 

Bain, our Void-Master "Flight Marshal", has some dealings with those in the Cold Trade. There's a whole mystery there that is being fed to the Aesperanza--the other group that our GM is GMing for a bit--and hopefully kept out of the RT's radar.

 

Also, the Blessed Enterprise has a temporary Mini Warp Antenna that can't actually be used while in the Immaterium since it's literally just sticking out on top of the hull. One of the things we recovered on Naduesh that we need a dockyard to properly install. I'm not too sure about the -10 to the Warp Nav though. GM and I agreed that it would help with the Navigators' various chartings and so on.

 

All in all, a very full gaming day. Much fun and home-cooked pizza was had by all.

 

 

Chaki and Annaamarth like this

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Our bonus Sunday game session truly highlighted just how players can derail even a GM with few plans.

 

This marks the end of my GM-ship and I turn back the reins over to our GM who has recovered from alcohol poisoning.

 

 

==================

 

REDEMPTION
 
 

There are some who believe we live in a theocracy. You'll hear it whispered as if it was some great insight, the Adeptus Terra is called the Priesthood of Earth after all. But no, they mean the Adeptus Ministorum's influence in everyday matters. Many an admiral has been influenced by an Ecclesiarchy representative, a pattern I'm sure repeats itself throughout the Imperium at any and all levels. The distinction between the authority of the Adeptus Terra's multiple divisions versus the Ecclesiarchy's influence is not something most people have pondered.

 
You are not most people. What is the difference between authority and influence? One has the right to tell us what to do, the other you have given the right to be told what to do. When you ponder which is which then you begin to take the truly dangerous steps of becoming a true heir of the Strom dynasty.
 
What I found in the ruined void station of Port Redemptor was undoubtedly a theocracy without any pretense of secularity. Missionaries and priests survived their world's fall and huddled in the dark as their betters died protecting them. Left with no restraint they took direct control of the surviving population and infested their day to day lives.
 
Would it surprise you to know that the people I found in that station were no better or worse off than most of humanity? I saw a population kept in line with fear of the Emperor, kept working for days on with whips and words, taught to suffer and struggle as those above did not. 
 
I had hope when Trelany first told me that there were survivors on the mangled station. Its hull looked as if a giant void beast had chewed on the station for a bit and, not liking its flavour, spewed out what it had eaten. And that was just on the outside. If there were survivors that meant they knew how to operate technology--no matter how hard the other priesthood claims, technology is all of humanity's birthright--that is something else most human populations will have in common with each other. I had hoped to redeem them, rescue them when we made contact.
 
Travelling to the station had to be done in secret. Feuds decades old or even older were being played out in the system. Ships had died and their survivors left to rot. I had tried to intervene a few times, but it was clear only force would allow me to step in and do my duty as a voidfarer. The Fair Trade was an able smuggler and we took a long course to bypass the flotillas closer into the system. It rested nearby, in low polar orbit of the second moon, its systems at low power as my staff and I ventured to the station on cutters.
 
We made non-violent contact with the survivors--they call themselves the Servo, an unfortunate mutation of the High Gothic for 'saved'--and quickly took us to their leaders. The Servo toiled in the lower decks of the station, keeping most of the systems working at their bare minimum. 
 
Binar volunteered to repair them and bring the station online but most of the repair work seemed to have already been done and he had weapons turned on him. When I tried to intervene the spear-rifles and mono-arrows were aimed at me instead. They greatly distrusted technology, even my removing my helmet only sparked a sense of horror among the Servo.
 
Trelany, however, was feted. She had a link with the Emperor directly. Idris saw His Light and Bain, well, our flight marshal looked impressive in his uniform. Binar and myself were quietly edged away as the three remained to conduct negotiations. I saw no reason to worry, Trelany knew my mind and Idris was a skilled negotiator. Bain would add the appropriate level of the threat of violence to any discussion.
 
Instead, Binar and I toured the Servo's domain. There were fungi being harvested from radiator coils strung near the water reclaimators. Algae and other things were being carefully parted from veined nets dragged across numerous steaming vents. Binar recognized one of the foreman's chants as that of a repair ritual, and we watched an auxiliary generatoria undergo basic maintenance set to the rhythm of an upbeat hymn. I could not tell if the Magos was amused, bemused, or annoyed at the confluence.
 
Eventually, some curious warriors approached us and asked about our arms and armour. I took the time to remove my glove and forearm plating, showing them the flesh underneath and answered their questions directly. The spear-rifles intrigued me, they fired solid bolts but used charge-packs as well. I realized that the primitive looking weapons I mistook for gunpowder sticks were mag-accelerators, probably capable of perforating me in this armour. 
 
I must have one. Or several hundred.
 
Binar was silent as he examined the weapons and agreed that we should trade to acquire more. As we talked, more people left the central chapel, smiling, and the warriors--lead by Jol, the oldest looking one--took it as a sign that the talks were going well. He took us to their Holy Armoury, a machine shop in barely working order. I could feel the Magos restraining himself at the sacrilege done to the tools, not to mention the casual defacing of the symbols of the Priesthood of Mars and the Omnissiah. 
 
The Magos is, however, a pragmatic man and banked his indignation to examine the "Armoury" closely. The mag-accelerators were pipes used to deliver pellets of waste materials from the machine shop into a sorter to be disposed or recycled as necessary. They would have been highly inaccurate, but modified as they were they could puncture most armour. Binar blinked when he said that, and I caught the warning.
 
I fired one at the test range, right next to the machine shop, and it kicked heavily. Through luck or skill I hit the target dead centre to whoops of applause; no one hits the target on their first try. Truthfully, the power armour absorbed most of the recoil. We were busy "talking shop" as the ratings say when the rest of my staff joined us. Binar had suggested a few modifications, the magnetic "rifling spin" mechanism was refined further and a few ergonomic changes to better balance the sheer kick of the thing. There was a working prototype Jol was testing when Idris broke the good news.
 
There was going to be a war to defeat the Emperor's enemies once and for all.
 
 
------------------
 
 
Jol had told us the same story that the three were told. Far above us lay the Throne of Terra where the Emperor sat. Between that link to Holy Terra and us down here was the wilderness where metallic beasts lay waiting to ambush the Emperor's true sons and daughters. A war party of at least two dozen fighters would stalk and hunt one from below decks then ambush it, often returning with just half their number along with the beast's carcass. Each contained useful metals and pieces of technology they used to stay alive.
 
The beasts feared the light but also drew strength from it. Larger and larger war parties had more successes until the beasts retaliated and took some of their own warriors. Jol himself saw his brother Nol wrapped in metal and killing Servo warriors without remorse.
 
Then more and more of the honoured fallen were brought back as beast-men. A Crusade had been called and we would lead it.
 
Next time, I'm leaving the power armour in storage.
 
 
----------------
 
 
Bain had understood right from the start. The combat servitors were set on patrol mode and had preset kill limits to prevent the wholesale slaughter of any crewmen who were too slow to evacuate the decks. The servitors must have been activated when the station came under attack but were not given the proper instructions for a void station. Perhaps they were stored in a cargo bay that had been damaged. 
 
The servitors would have wandered the passageways and started murdering the cowering survivors, driving them ever below. Servitors that are not periodically mind-wiped tend to show curious behaviours, devolving into feral combat servitors was definitely a possibility and so would the activation of any protocols to replace battle losses. 
 
Binar confirmed everything Bain said and we both wondered how the young flight marshal knew so much about Navy patterns of patrolling servitors. 
 
Trelany was not on board with the plan. I felt for her. Here, the people did not recoil away or use her as a tool. She was honoured here, regarded as someone who was close to the Emperor. In fact, she beheld the Emperor with her own eyes, stood in his presence. I will begin to interact with her with this in mind, and when I return to the Blessed Enterprise, so will the crew she comes into contact with.
 
Idris, our Navigator, seemed pleased with her solution. I was horrified by it. She viewed it as a just punishment for straying so far, though there was no conviction with her words. With our ships beginning to fail I saw no other way and she and I understood one another.
 
Even Binar was willing to wash his hands of these people, regardless of what they had accomplished. Or perhaps because of it. 
 
I tried to restrict the war parties to just the warriors. Then just the adults. But it became clear that only the very old and very young were to remain behind, even little children could carry a few charge packs and magazines. The infirm were under my protection, I left the Crusade to the rest.
 
 
---------
 
 
Binar identified the beasts' nest with one look at a hololith of the station's schematics. He overlayed it with his own reading of power usage and identified that a component stored in the cavernous cargo bays had been activated and siphoned plenty of power. It was no accident, it was hard-wired and was the priority for the station's power systems since all the higher functions were destroyed or cut off. 
 
There was no severing the power quickly to stymie any coordination between the beasts. Mega-capacitors in the intervening decks could also be undamaged and supply power for decades even if the power was cut. There was no elegant coup de grace here.
 
The elder-priests had not shut up since the deal was struck. They, of course, would not take part in the fighting being mostly elderly themselves. Their families were in places of vital functions to the Servo community, so they too were spared. The Servo did not mind this one bit as their Holy Armour began churning out dozens of their spear-rifles a minute once Binar was finally allowed to work. It had lost some of its savage attraction, but was now a more practical weapon. 
 
Bain lead the training, assigning groups and simple PDF strategies for people being lead to the slaughter. 
 
I could not help it, I wanted less blood on my hands, so I asked Trelany if she could send a message for me. That startled her but she acquiesced and hours later a few cutters docked with the station. One carried lascannon that we trained a few capable warriors to use. The necessity of not moving and laying in cover to shoot was hard to impress upon them, but demonstrating the weapon's firepower made converts of them all. The cutter also carried flak vests and helmets that we handed out to the youngest.  
 
And then they were off to war. 
 
My senior staff acted with valour. They held themselves and their parties in reserve and reinforced a line or pushed forward as necessary. I was glad to see how well they worked with each other. If only the goal was not so horrid.
 
I cannot hate them for spilling this blood in my dynasty's name. It's blood that needed to be spilled. And it was for my dynasty. When we began this journey they were those that remained of the family's servants and allies. Now they were the foremost of them, and they shared in the dynasty's growth and sought its prosperity like true senior partners should. 
 
Once the fighting was distant and my staff was away I called for the rest of the cargo to be delivered. My stone-faced Stromgard slew the Servo indiscriminately. They didn't even wrestle with my orders, entire families burnt away with prometheum or plasma. 
 
The fighting ended days later with most of the beasts shut down in their alcoves or littering the decks in pieces. We had to kill the last ones ourselves, but with proper heavy weapons and training the Stromgard handled it without needing much help.  
 
Port Redemptor was ours.
 
One hour later, Binar reactivated the servitors in their alcoves with new programming. They swept the decks and brought any survivors to the servitor bay, the last unholy thing we did was desecrate them and turn them into the very things they hated. We needed servitors to maintain the station, and we needed to replenish the combat servitors' ranks for its defense.
 
That was three days ago and I have not slept since. 
 

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Wow. What a mindblowing ending for now.

 

I started reading to get some inspiration on my own chronicles, but i have no idea if our adventures can even compete with that.

 

Also, i've learned a new way to read the chapter "Koronus Expanse" :)

Edited by Chaki
Sebastian Yorke likes this

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Thanks Chaki.

 

You can blame me for that, I try to make the smallest thing full of meaning and it gives our group plenty of natural hooks. This is Part 2 of last Sunday's bonus session. I had left out the dinner and the ensuing space battle since the previous entry was already far too long.

 

Also, since this is from the Rogue Trader's perspective I have plenty of room to make it more like a captain's log. 

 

A new game session tomorrow!... I swear it won't take me a whole week to write it out. 

 

 

==============

 

A DINNER INVITATION
 

Some deserve hate more than others. Twenty vessels had been set upon since we first arrived at Salvator. Some survived to take their chances in the Empyrean, a few were successful in staving off attackers, but most succumbed. The transports and isolated raiders were parted, crew and hull alike, between the hungry flotillas. I spent those three days watching, analyzing. Plotting.

 
I recognized most of the classes present, no matter how much variation within a class between different shipyards there were similarities. A few that I didn't recognize, Binar did and he was kind enough to give me just the right amount of information I needed to make a tactical assessment. But there were others that I knew just from their drive signatures and those that were not in any datastack we had access to. 
 
The locals did not concern me for the moment. One odd looking light cruiser intrigued me. The pair of frigates in Battlefleet Calixis colours worried me, and so did the light cruiser that arrived while we headed to Port Redemptor; it began circling Tempestor Squadron and other raiders joined in. Magos Binar identified the three as part of a Calixian patrol that went missing nearly two centuries ago: the Sword-class High Spirits, the Firestorm-class Astral Fury, lead by the Endeavour-class Silver Sentinel. They were names that I was familiar with from my studies of historical actions of the sector. Thraves illuminated us on the first vessel, a rare Comet-class light cruiser, most likely the Prince of the Deep. A vessel of House Boro.
 
Our passive augry scans had yielded much--and proved to be a great exercise for the junior officers--and we identified even more causes for concern. A Secutor-class monitor-cruiser was considered by the Navy as a light cruiser though it had the firepower and defense of a heavy cruiser. There were two that arrived bearing colours that were not of the Mechanicus. Armed transports swirled in their wake, keeping away from the Goliath-class factory ship that brought up the rear of their flotilla, escorted by their raiders.
 
The line between a pirate and a rogue trader is thin, and oftentimes blurred. There was no mistaking on which side these new arrivals fell. 
 
Bain advised an alliance with the merchantmen, which I considered myself but dismissed: we would be protecting prey against these renegades. Sevia burned with fury, recognizing the names of many of the ships and wanted war. Idris was silent, correlating the ship names with Navis Houses, but I knew she would want vengeance. Trelany wanted blood as well, she could feel astropaths enslaved in some of those ships. Binar knew Hereteks were on board those vessels and wanted a chance to eradicate them.
 
I thought I was the bloody-minded one. 
 
I set their focus to retaking the void station. Perhaps that is why they were so callous with the Servo. We had a plan, and it would end with dinner.
 
 
----------------
 
The Wren Dynasty controlled the majority of ships, a balanced split between killers and haulers, and commanded by Drew and Drea Wren. A cabal of slavers and renegades formed a loose alliance of paired raiders and one or two transports, their leader was a man named Calvin Dempsey. The pirates answered to no one but themselves, but they deferred to Lady Grey, herself a former rogue trader. I was a nobody, with one carrier cruiser, some escorts, and mostly armed merchantmen who suspiciously arrived with the Navy squadron.
 
I had to lose the void station to them and make it feel like they won it from me. 
 
The first step was to remove Tempestor Squadron. Commander Bodaker was difficult to convince, but he eventually relented that backing down now would preserve his ships. He dearly wanted to take back the Calixian ships and I wanted to let him, but I needed the squadron. Several ships in my fleet were begging to depart, and so we allowed them, and the commander offered an escort.
 
I distracted the rest by announcing that Port Redemptor was now Stromport and belonged to me alone. The few days we had to work with the station paid off. A few macrobatteries were working once more and the void shields crackled to life. We mostly servitors crewing the guns, but it would be enough to scare away the lighter threats.
 
My fleet moved in, sparking a race and there was bloodshed. Thraves made good use of the preparations Bain and I set for the fleet, and the few raiders that tried to strike were hulked by the combined firepower of half a dozen transports at a time. Once the others saw this, they slowed their approach. Any combat with the larger flotillas would result in massive damage, and no one wanted that.
 
It was also true that I could not hold the station for long. A combined assault would lower their casualties and maximize my losses. The brother and sister Wrens communicated this to me in sympathetic tones. Captain Dempsey was the most reasonable one of them all and offered me a trade. I laughed, raising a glass of amasec to him over the holo. Finally, someone understood that I was not stupid.
 
I deserved a dedicated part of the yard. It was my efforts that secured the station and my workers bringing it back to working order. I have emptied the evidence lockers and contraband storage bays and would continue to receive a portion of all the stowed loot discovered aboard the station in perpetuity. I forced concession after concession, even forcing a parts tax for all ships that wanted to dock that did not belong to me. 
 
In exchange, the station would be theirs--though it would keep its name, my ego demanded it--and I could come and go as I pleased. The servitors that I had brought on board the station would remain but would be used only for the station's maintenance. 
 
I knew at best only some of these would be honoured, but I insisted the agreement would be formalized over dinner.
 
 
-------
 
Binar had made the preparations, stowing the combat-servitors into their bay. But there were now so many that there was not enough room for all. The rest were secreted deep below, in the very decks where the Servo lived. My stomach churned at that. 
 
The station had a great many dining halls, but none quite suited the sheer host of guests we would have. I ordered the desecration of one of the cathedrals on the station, turning pews into long dining tables and carving chairs from whatever was available. Sevia saw the need but was still incandescent with rage. 
 
In a way, the dinner was enjoyable. I was not nearly as reserved as I had to be, and sharing the stories of how I captured the Majestic Benefit and the Shining Trust over Raakata was celebrated for the blatant act of piracy it was. I, of course, left out the Lords of the Seas and the Stryxis. It was grand and chaotic and finally there was a ceremony that saw me officially handing over command of the station to the Wrens, chosen by a council of which I was not a part of. 
 
They looked at me with pity. Easily outmaneuvered by my own petty concerns. I let that realization show on my face and we retreated from the station in disgrace.
 
By morning, they were all dead.
 
During the dinner, my staff had gone over the gory details of capturing the station. The renegades all congratulated them on their betrayal, telling them they shouldn't feel too bad if fools believed every word they said and charged off to die. Many laughed uproariously when Binar revealed that the survivors had been turned into the very servitors maintaining the place. It was perhaps the first time they truly saw their actions as I had.
 
Of course everyone wanted to look at the combat-servitors, which we promised were now deactivated forever. There were killings during the dinner, I imagine, by those who wanted to unlock the servitor bay and gain control of it themselves, regardless if they knew what they were doing. Alcohol helped and so did Trelany's numbing influence on their minds.
 
We didn't even need to release our pre-planned vox-squeaks. There were calls for support as more of the ships around the station started receiving frantic fragments. Several tried to dock but were blocked by others suspicious of their motives. It didn't take long for the shooting to begin, though we had safely returned to our exiled fleet, in orbit of the nearby moons by then. 
 
One vox-cast, spliced to sound Lady Grey's voice, did transmit. "Kill the Wrens!" she shouted before static cut her off.
 
The void battle was confused and frenetic. Many ships tried to back away but these would then stutter as crews mutinied, or had mutinies overturned. I could not remain silent in all of this, demanding that everyone respond to my authority and cease fire.
 
Some actually did and moved towards us. The Voidwing was once the Astral Fury and its captain was a thrice-damned mutineer. But he trusted another Navy man. His trust saved a few more ships from the battle, not the High Spirits which retained the name even as it died, but a few smaller destroyers. It complicated matters, but we were ready for it.
 
I made it seem that the Blessed Enterprise and the Aesperanza would dive into the combat and left the protection of the fleet to the four ships. We were behind the icy third moon and they had nothing but transports behind them. They were taken quietly. I didn't bother executing the mutineers myself, though Lyza assured me she punished them severely.
 
Three light cruisers all claiming to be In The Moment savaged the pirate force. It was exceptional void fighting, but the Dauntless hulls had been long reconfigured for ground wars. One Secutor fell, taking the middle Wren ship with it. The second Secutor was saved by its raider screen that mauled both light cruisers and drove them off. 
 
Transports scattered in all directions, some making their way towards us, most breaking for the system's edge. Once the void station started taking damage, I moved in and demanded a halt to the fighting lest they kill us all. 
 
The Blessed EnterpriseAesperanzaFree Endeavour, and the Swift Sunrise waded in. The Fair Trade was too busy with taking over the vessels that were retreating to the safety of the fleet. Two frigates, the Jon Spur and Lively had joined with us before all of this began, flanked us, ready to drive away anything that we didn't kill at range. A corvette, unnamed and unmarked, trailed us. 
 
Idris guided the ship deftly, placing the Blessed Enterprise at the optimal points and moved us from danger. Trelany in her choir chambers kept us safe, somehow tricking the more dangerous vessels that we were where we weren't. The two made my job of shouting at Thraves to fire even easier. We swept away the escorts with macro and lance fire, even the ones that had retreated or had won their duels. Seventeen ships we personally sank, the flotilla sank thirteen more.
 
All without any appreciable damage, though more than a few macroshells had slammed into the Blessed Enterprise. All that was left were the larger ships who finally understood just how badly they had been outmaneuvered.
 
 
STORMBREAK

 
We killed In The Moment with the first bombing run. Four squadrons, each guided by one of us, struck at the light cruiser. I had hoped it would remain salvageable but whatever abhorrent warp engine it used detonated and sucked in its sister ship. The Wren Dynasty's flagships were gone.
 
The Prince of the Deep loosed plasma-launched torpedoes at us and our formation broke apart as our interceptors struggled to get in the void. The rippling fire of the torpedoes alternated with fierce plasma broadsides that wreathed the Aesperanza as her void shields crumbled. Lyza was the not the sort to back away and charged head-on, firing their own plasma batteries with far greater effects. Their astropath managed to make the frigate shimmer in the void, hiding it like Trelany hid us, and we closed in. The Comet was a rare prize.
 
The Blessed Enterprise, however, had to remain practical. We smashed through its void shields and I focused our lance at its torpedo launchers. I timed it just as the Prince of the Deep loosed another quartet of torpedos at us. The lance ruined the launchers then dragged upwards into the thick armour belt, feeding on the wounds our las-batteries were gouging off the hull. 
 
Our Master of Etherics identified a barracks deep in the cruiser and we turned our lance on it on our second pass. The Aesperanza hamstrung the vessel then and with the Swift Sunrise began the bloody work of taking the ship. 
 
I took the Blessed Enterprise away, leaving the corvette as an escort for the two, and sent the pair of frigates off my flanks and into the fray. Bain had managed to get our attack craft in order and paired Fury/Starhawk squadrons launched every ten minutes on bombing missions against the swarming pirate raiders. They lacked all semblance of order and a part of me wondered why.
 
Somehow, in the midst of all of this bloodshed, the warp storm had finally broken. I quavered, wondering just how much of the thrill I felt was a bloodlust fueled by the warp. Sevia began her work then, extolling us to remember the Emperor and our duty, and all sorts of things that returned my mind to my control. I manually activated the Gellar Fields aboard the ship and ordered the other vessels to do so.
 
We lost our fervour then, our bloodlust. We had no need of that and I took the frigates again as my escorts and we systematically tore apart anything that dared target us. 
 
The lone Secutor was still surrounded by a dozen ships while the Goliath had remained apart and aloof. We were outnumbered four to one. 
 
The monitor-cruiser was drenched with fire and it shuddered as macroshells ripped through its decks from stern to bow. Its brood of vipers scattered away from the burning hulk but they couldn't escape Tempestor Squadron. Nor us.
 
I didn't seize the Goliath, the ship simply surrendered to me. Captain Trant Willow had been grafted into the command throne of the Font by hereteks who had seized the refinery ship. I accepted and still sent a prize crew over, upsetting Commander Bodaker who had wanted to do so himself, but they found no other crew but servitors. 
 
There were surviving vessels cursing my name as they fled the system. A few within my own fleet left, either out of fear or shame, and I let them go. There were far more who surrendered, pleading forgiveness. It was the work of days to rescue the survivors and deposit them in the station, each in their own holds. They had nothing to listen to but Sevia's sermons who I left in charge over them.
 
Idris and Trelany saw to the recovered Navigators and Astropaths. There were a few Navis who died after being rescued, no doubt by Idris and her servants that I tolerate on board as long as they remain hidden. The Navigator Houses played very dangerous games, and Idris saw to her House's needs as I saw to mine. A few of the astropaths were granted the Emperor's Mercy, their minds far too tortured to be healed. Many were not, showing a surprising resilience that I admired.
 
It was Bain who was the most tired, even with the aid of all the command staff and Thraves' own savants it was a herculean task to organize it all. I should know, I only delegated what I could not see to myself.
 
It was Binar having the most fun. We recovered several hereteks with long bounties and the various tech-priests in the system rejoiced as each one was taken offline
 
----
 
The Battle for Redemption, as we are calling it, showed just how weakly Stromport could defend itself. The surviving crews were seen to. We treated them as prisoners for the most part. Those that plead repentance and wanted to prove it were drafted into work crews and set about repairing the damage done to the station. Thankfully, there had been no collisions of the hulks with the station. Just plenty of macro hits against the hull that needed patching--and these men knew exactly how to fix those.
 
They were also highly motivated by the presence of several combat servitors, some bearing the faces of their former leaders. 
 
The few salvage ships that were in the system had fled or been destroyed leaving us with shoddy attempts at recovering hulks. We used boarding lines to tow ships back to port where tech-priests argued over whether it could be saved, salvaged, or cast into the sun. I am not joking, we sent three ships into the primary for crimes against the Omnissiah or somesuch. 
 
Most of the hulks were wrecks, exploding on their own as they drifted away or were drawn into the embrace of a planetary body. Recovery operations were dangerous, more than one party had died cutting apart a component just as the hull gave way or the ship exploded. I sent the most expendable to this work, the station was full of them.
 
Commander Bodaker and I were in constant negotiations for the serviceable hulls. He wanted all the light cruisers and frigates and I wanted to give him a few halo barges, it was a good excuse as any to meet, get drunk, and exchange war stories. We had nothing to do as the storm swirled around us. No new ships arrived, none departed. 
 
Tempestor Squadron had more ships than they could crew. I stymied any and all attempts by the commander at pressing my officers and the prisoners, only granting him access to a stretch of the dock after he signed off on a great many Writs of Claim. It would still need to be taken to the Prize Court on Port Wander, eventually, but Writs co-signed by a senior Navy officer counted for much in the wilds such as the Expanse. 
 
The commander was doubly proud of recovering the High Spirits and the Silver Sentinel and dearly wanted the former Astral Fury as well. Considering that the Voidwing was in such great condition I bargained for another Firestorm-class frigate and several parts from the prizes he had taken. I dubbed the Firestorm the Victoriae Parum to commemorate the little victory I won. 
 
We finally came to an accommodation. He transferred his command to the battered Endeavour-class light cruiser and asked that the rest of his prizes be scrapped, as necessary, for parts to bring the Silver Sentinel on line. In return, the galleon Bard of Ulstor was mine, and any and all hulls and parts that were not needed to bring the light cruiser to working order. I bargained a little more and had him agree to lend the manpower for the tech-priests after pointing out that trusting former renegades with the repair work may not be in everyone's best interests.
 
It meant two dozen senior tech-priests and the vast bulk of our servitors, but the repairs were coming along. A friendly Endeavour in the system in Navy hands benefited us all greatly. It would take months, but we had plenty of time.
 
The last remaining In The Moment sat by the Secutor that had killed it, both warp worthy but required years of work at drydock. We repaired only the truly critical parts and mothballed them as best we could. The Prince of the Deep was taken mostly intact and I offered it to Lyza though she refused. She did, however, give it a new name. The Daring was the focus of much of the repair work though it would be a nightmare to crew it properly. The Cobra and Iconoclast destroyers who listened to my call for reason were given new names, BlizzardTorrent, and Squall, and would form "Storm" Squadron. They were on picket duty already as the newly promoted officers shook down their crews. 
 
Both the Jon Spur and the Lively petitioned to join the dynasty fleet. They had protected the Blessed Enterprise well. Both were Firestorms that had plagued Winterscale's Realm for decades. I welcomed them in, forcing new officers beneath "Captains" Eva Norton and Li Yung while I re-assigned their crewmen and officers to oversee the work parties. They had no grounds for any complaints, all the ships had to take on new crew and lose able crew. I'll have the two killed later on.
 
The final warship was the silent corvette. I granted its captain autonomy after he refused to join. I could pin no crimes to him or his crew, nor any identities. The only thing I knew of the corvette was that its marksmanship was excellent and that it kept its rare melta batteries in perfect working order. I asked him to round out the "Hound" squadron and he agreed. 
 
Less than 30 transports remained, most having been with us since Zayth. I tried to release them from the demands of the fleet but they would not go. The tight organization had kept them whole when so many of the other transports had been lost. Operating more than two dozen transports was burning through our reserves, however, and the captains voluntarily stood down their vessels--choosing the most badly damaged--and transferring their own able crew to the station. Two squadrons of the more dangerously armed transports were kept active, their holds emptied save for rations and spares. 
 
Thraves did not thank me for all the datawork he and his savants had to do. Many of the ships had seemingly legitimate masters, and drafting letters to make sure no claims could be laid at the dynasty's fleet should anything happen to the ship was decidedly a time-consuming process. I worried more about those with only paper-thin ties to supposed commercial concerns. They did not surrender their cargoes for inspection and I did not permit the tech-priests from repairing their hulls, even in drydock.
 
 
WAR AGAINST IDLENESS
 
 
Several transports were not part of the defense formations and were best suited gathering the resources we all needed to survive. Though the Fair Trade was not suited to such things, its boarding cannon were strangely versatile in function and was often requested as a partner vessel. The Swift Sunrise distributed its load of provendor amongst all dynasty vessels and harvested cloudwater for us all. 
 
Still, the work crews were getting restless as the damage was patched up. The third moon orbiting Salvator was not without its charms. It was tidally locked, but its equator was habitable and even sported some native animal life. I put the Blessed Enterprise's manufactorum to work--the other manufactoria were too busy with repairs--and had settlements using prefab buildings created on the surface. 
 
The aquatic animals were easy for the former renegades to trap and pack, and there was plentiful ice to store the food in. I even had several fishing boats created for their use and they began to greatly supplement our food and water stocks. As a reward, I had a few drinking establishments created which served drinks just as long as the men doing the drinking had done work for that day. 
 
What I did not count on were the snowbeasts. The fishers had no defense against those animals that wandered from the ice belts, so a hunting community emerged from the voidfarers of the system. Those naturally inclined to such pursuits, like Bain himself, lead hunting parties to depopulate the predators. A Magos Biologis from the Navy approached us for an opportunity regarding the animals; they were not worth eating, but their bones and organs could be harvested for other biochemical uses. I haggled somewhat with him and extracted that the pelts, which tend to deteriorate rapidly if not kept in the cold, could be easily chemically treated to preserve its appearance. To preserve the internal organs any and all hunting parties must use solid-slug weapons and bounties will be paid only to the cleanest kills. 
 
Not surprisingly, my armsmen made small fortunes for themselves. The pelts I had treated and stored aboard the station for later trade and a small alchemical reactor was assembled by Binar for the purpose of harvesting the snowbeasts' innards and bones. 
 
Trelany worked hard at rehabilitating the astropaths we rescued and standardized a method for the dynasty fleet to communicate effectively. Many of those we rescued petitioned to work for the dynasty anyway, though a few wished to return in service to the Navy. With her work we began receiving astropathic messages through swirling storm and her own abilities grew considerably. 
 
Idris busied herself with her storm chart. Being present at the birth of a warp storm, no matter how short its life, was an experience she was exploiting to its fullest. She revealed little, even to the tech-priests who specialized in the Empyrean, and consulted with them in secret. She confided in me that the chart had changed on its own. With it, Idris felt she could begin charting new routes. She was certain of that, as were all the other Navigators, the very channels of the warp had changed thanks to this storm. That was worrying, many colonies and settlements would starve or die off, and many others would flourish. I needed to know which.
 
Binar hated administration and tried to rope in various Logis to do the work for him. He and I both wanted him in his laboratorium examining the STC fragment, but the duties of the dynasty pressed on him. Much of the repair work was overseen by him directly and I had to step in many times and teach him to delegate to his lessers. There were several other tech-priests of his sect, or faction, or colour, I don't know which, in the Navy ships. Arranging for their transfers was an internal Mechanicus matter and he began a series of trials to judge who was worthy of which duty, and I encouraged him to promote from within as well. 
 
How could such logical beings not understand the basics of personnel management? 
 
Sevia handled the mammoth task of converting the lost souls. I knew many were simply mouthing off what they hoped she wanted to hear, but she did a great deal of good in instilling fear into the renegades. She walked the passagebays and work areas with an open book in one hand and her revving chainsword in the other. When she wasn't doing this she obsessed over the system's planets and engaged in relic hunting. Since the Blessed Enterprise had no true duties, I granted her the use of our heavy lifting capabilities and our excellent master of etherics. Our contributions would be, of course, noted. 
 
The system's planetary orbits created natural channels for travel, making it so that a vessel could accelerate and decelerate quickly to and from the core worlds. Whatever the Monarch of Whispers did it threw off the balance and made many more slower approaches possible. 
 
Our relic hunting was also a good chance to survey the worlds. The worlds closest to the primary were burnt out cinders, any ships that fled there might have survived only if they remained whole. The worlds at the fringes proved the most promising, and we recovered the remains of martyrs and their few belongings even as we stripped their crashed ships. 
 
Work crews had returned to our original anchorage, the eight planet, and were busy hacking away for the needed frozen compounds when etherics spotted a meteor shower.
 
I called for battle stations and ordered the Gellar Fields raised. The meteors were falling from the warp.
 
 
ROCKFALL
 
 
Eddies, channels, and pools of warp energy drew matter throughout the galaxy. The wavefront of a massive space hulk would draw them into its wake as it hurtled through the Immaterium. Its wavefront would settle in, pouring through to realspace and manifesting as a warp storm in extreme cases. The detritus would fall, translating not as energy but as matter tainted by the warp, and their halos and crowns glistened as they translated from the upper bands of the warp to realspace. 
 
I kept this in mind as I ordered the Blessed Enterprise to return to the eight planet and pick up the workers. 
 
One meteor translated almost in our path and I heard the deck scream. Trelany was protecting to our minds but I knew the other astropaths would be wounded at best. Thraves saw my eyes and dispatched armsmen and medicae right away. Idris abandoned the Warp Spire we had raised and activated the emergency explosives, shearing the thing cleanly off our hull. Secondary explosions destroyed it as warp things swarmed into it. 
 
Our turret crews began opening fire and I let them, there was nothing else in range for us to damage anyway. They did not stop firing until our barges launched and only stopped again when they returned. They killed nothing but blasted smaller rocks apart. 
 
The warp meteors flared again as the Empyrean's inexorable pull drew them back in.
 
One thousand five hundred and thirty seven crewmen died. Half of the work crews were dead on the planet's surface, and the half that survived may very well need to be put out of their misery. 
 
By the time we returned to Stromport the warp storm had died down to a disturbance and it was clear enough for us to begin sailing. The cries for help came rushing in.
 
Midnight's Lair had begun killing.

 

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Yeah, we can't keep all of those ships. Though it's phrased as if it's just me and the GM conversing, this is actually what the group decided on.

 

-------------------------

 

Strom Dynasty Fleet
Dictator-class Cruiser - Blessed Enterprise
Sword-class Frigate - Aesperanza
Orion-class Star Clipper - Fair Trade
Loki-class Q-Ship - Swift Sunrise
Vagabond-class Merchant Trader - Free Endeavour
Goliath-class Factory Ship - Font
 
Storm Squadron
Cobra-class Destroyer - Blizzard
Cobra-class Destroyer - Torrent
Iconoclast-class Destroyer - Squall
 
Hound Squadron
Sword-class Frigate - Jon Spur
Sword-class Frigate - Lively
Unknown Corvette - Unknown Name
 
Drydock (Inactive)
Comet-class Light Cruiser - Daring
Firestorm-class Frigate - Victoriae Parum
Dauntless-class Light Cruiser - Momentum
Secutor-class Monitor-Cruiser - Cogitum Magnus


 
As you can see lord-captain, our fleet has gradually expanded to include a great many warships. I did not include the transports that are still on extended trade duties as per our original agreements to keep the House afloat following our journey from the Maw.
 
Unfortunately, it's unlikely we'll be able to keep most of these vessels. Even Storm Squadron's upkeep would quickly drain our coffers. The only reason we've been able to keep these ships operational is that they have not had to engage in warp travel in months and we have a large workforce able to harvest food, water, and fuel.

It's my recommendation that both Storm and Hound Squadrons remain in the Salvator system for the moment. They will keep Stromport station well defended and allow the armed merchantmen to begin organizing into trade convoys. The sooner we are free from the burden of the merchantmen, the better. I assure you that even though we have been cut off from the rest of the galaxy for the last few months it has indeed cost us a great deal of gelt to retain those transports. Their contributions will all have to be remunerated else we could be the target of massive trade embargoes and sanctions by the various guilds and concerns.
 
It is also flatly impossible for us to retain even two of the light cruisers. I have set my staff to this matter and we believe the best possible outcome is for us to surrender both squadrons to the Navy. I have infiltrated enough officers aboard the Jon Spur and the Lively to be able to seize it from the piratical crew. This will be done once you have left the system. The corvette of Hound Squadron has already alerted us that it intends to leave and seek its own path out of the system and the region. I believe we can bring Victoriae Parum (or Vicky as she is being called by the yard workers) online and join it with Hound Squadron.
 
Further, I believe we need to turn over the ships to the Prize Court at Port Wander directly or to a senior Battlefleet Koronus officer. Commander Bodaker lacks the authority we'll need to have our claims processed fairly. That is to say, completely in our favour.
 
It is also our recommendation that we also turn over the Dauntless-class cruiser along with the two squadrons. That, as you know, is a complete long patrol flotilla. A grand contribution by anyone's measure and it will indeed indebt the Navy, and specifically Battlefleet Koronus, to us. It will make the careers of a good many younger officers as well, and that is a worthwhile investment.
 
The Secutor-class Cogitum Magnus has been kept off limits save for those tech-priests that Magos Binar has vetted. This has driven the Mechanicus priests slightly more insane. Many are making wild promises in Arch-Magos Hexiron's name in order to be the one to secure the monitor-cruiser. My staff and I are in full agreement with your course of action: Magos Binar must be allowed to turn over the Cogitum Magnus and the Lathe-class ship's logs to Arch-Magos Hexiron himself. The damage is quite extensive, but it seems the warship had a predominantly servitor crew that has been working non-stop to repair the various systems. It may be possible to leave the vessel at Damaris in Tech-Priest Hadron Shard's care, but the best course would be to return it directly to the Arch-Magos in Footfall. Yes, I know you hate the place, lord-captain, but it would be a grand gesture.
 
That leaves the appropriately named Daring. It is operational now though I would not risk it in warp travel just as yet. Its so-called Warpsbane Hull was severely mauled and while the Gellar Field generators are now up and running the hexagrammic wards have not been re-applied. Only Magos Binar might be qualified to do so, and he is far too busy with more important matters.
 
If nothing else, its unique silhouette will add a certain degree of mystery to our fleet.
 
The Font has finished its refuelling efforts and is still carrying a decent load for later use. I'm suggesting we transfer the fuel over to Stromport itself to make available for sale to our inevitable visitors. This will also free the ship and its integrated-captain to take on more ore and dip into the corona of nearby stars. Despite any and all protests from the Mechanicus I believe we have a strong case for retaining the ship for our fleet. If the entire fleet journeys together then our fuel costs--by no means a small expense--would be wiped out completely.
 
If you choose to keep the Font in service in the Heathen Stars then I believe the profits will make up for most of the fuel costs as well.

I await your commands.
 
GT

-----------
 
Storm Squadron is ours, Goddard. The Cobras were sold off a long time ago and will only be sent to reserve fleets even if we turned them over to Fleet-Captain Horne himself. They need months at a proper facility, the Bulwark perhaps, and then they can be put to good use. The Iconoclast is a well-known prize ship as well, and we may be able to add a second or third to the squadron. For now, they'll remain here as Stromport's defense force. The Hounds will be welcomed by Battlefleet Koronus, however.
 
The capture of the Endeavour-class light cruiser Silver Sentinel has most likely secured Bodaker's promotion to a permanent Lord-Commander. We can propel him directly to Lord-Captain Bodaker by turning over Hound Squadron and the Dauntless-class Momentum to him. He'll be unable to man the former Wren flagship, but he'll likely want his prize crews off the destroyers and into the Hound Squadron's frigates so he'll be willing to lose a few paltry destroyers in exchange for those ships.
 
I'll need to send a few messages as well to make sure Bodaker isn't outmaneuvered for his promotion. We must make it clear that it's due to our influence that he has risen so high, and I intend it becomes a very long, and reciprocal, relationship.
 
I am not that attached to the Daring, to be honest. I will keep it in drydock so that when Lyza feels ready she will take control of it. The Aesperanza has proven her worth as a fighting vessel, but for what Lyza has in mind to do she'll need a light cruiser. Besides, I want the Aesperanza by the Blessed Enterprise's side.
 
The Secutor will be our gift to Arch-Magos Hexiron, along with all the logs, charts, and pieces of technology we've recovered. Binar will be in command of the Cogitum Magnus but I will turn over the gifts directly to the Arch-Magos personally. He must know it comes from the Strom Dynasty first and foremost. Our debts will be paid by this, and I hope we'll be able to proceed on a far more equal footing.
 
Captain Trant Willow has accepted my offer, I thought you should know. Binar is overseeing the procedure now. He'll be more machine than man, but he'll live and not at the throne of a highly volatile factory ship. This does mean that the Font will remain inactive for a few months as the ship's bridge is fitted with more standard controls. It'll mean a loss in profit but it also means the entire ship is not wholly dependent on one very tired man.

Please make the necessary adjustments to your plans.
 
AS

 
 
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I did start writing down our own adventure. It gives a very good insight into the mindscape of a character which helps in roleplaying.

 

But your stories sound much more epic with many ships and everything :D

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It does help, plus it lets you track and develop your character in a different way.

 

We made a conscious decision to feel more epic. A lot of the ships are just window dressing for all of the effect they'll have, but it's nice to have that in the background. Our group's realized that we're not the USS Blessed Enterprise, with each crewmember as part of Starfleet. Each of us represents a major organization, and it felt wrong not to have that sense of scope. 

 

As we are finally growing the comment I hear the most is "Finally!" even if we can't keep all the shinies.

 

 

 

======================

 

 

I killed my Master of Etherics before the shadow thing consumed her from the inside out. It was a failing, a guttering of a Gellar field generator, that let the things in. Lt. Gemma Derosa, a promising young officer that had saved this ship seven times by my count with her skill was now just a pile of blackened ashes. 

 
I hoped the thing died when I killed her, but I knew it just returned to whatever hell it came from. I had plans to promote the young woman once she had finished training her replacement. He stood up, just as she did, and took her place. 
 
**** it all, I had her pegged for the Victoriae Parum. There was a uniform already waiting for her on Stromport, solid adamantine rank bars for her promotion to commander. There were dozens more killed, good crewmen, reliable and loyal.
 
The warp storm may have passed but the Immaterium was more dangerous than before.
 
-----------------
 
The major channels, the warp routes long charted by those who came before us, were not behaving. Lyza took Aesperanza to Naduesh, to see to our tradepost there and take on fresh supplies. Instead, when she made contact a week later, her astropathic coordinates indicated the frigate had ended up at Vaporious. The world, never truly hospitable, was now an ashen wasteland. Our promethium drills on the planet and the refineries were lost, bombarded from orbit and left to burn. Tens of thousands of dynasty subjects, nearly a hundred million Vaporians, were now simply dead. The missionary outpost had survived, barely, and the Aesperanza was heading back to Stromport with survivors.
 
With Sevia in charge of all our operations in the Salvator system, I thought it was a wise move. Those missionaries were of a higher rank than her. Maybe they could authorize the release of funds to help make our position there more solid.
 
Tempestor Squadron split into two, one heading to Zayth to find a way out of the region, the other to Agusia to rendezvous with any Navy patrols there. I did not know Battlefleet Koronus was using Agusia as a waystation, even unofficially. The dead world had nothing to offer, but the system itself may have potential. Regardless, both halves did not end up where they had hoped. The route to Zayth ended far Rimward of it, depositing the pair of escorts into the deep void. They reported a massive object in the distance and translated back into the warp. Wise men.
 
The other half of Tempestor found themselves in Naduesh and reported hostile contact. Merchantmen had panicked and tried to land parties all over the surface, ignoring our tradepost's and other traders' warnings. There was a cold-hot-cold war near Nadueshi orbit and the Navy ships had orders not to interfere, but out of a sense of debt, they did so anyway and stood the merchants down. They were escorting them to Stromport as well.
 
We received the news almost at the same time. Our passage was uncharted, as all jumps into the deep void were, and the Blessed Enterprise despite its ancient warp engine, needed time to regain its warp-legs. We had received multiple distress signals and Commander Bodaker in the Silver Sentinel took one set of them to investigate and I took the other set. 
 
 
Vontonosona
 
A failed agri-system, the lone habitable moon on the fourth planet was now a massive firestorm. Whatever semblance of civilization had been cratered from orbit. Two massive conflagrations on the moon could be nothing else than the corpses of voidships. 
 
The new master of etherics was sharp and spotted a drifting hulk well away from the moon. It took us days to match velocities but Trelany helped guiding us in. There was an astropath aboard, and some others still alive.
 
There were more than a few survivors, though I hesitate to call them that. Their bodies survived but their minds, their souls, hadn't. I stopped telling myself it was a mercy, seeing only the promise of a young officer ending with each shot. We waded through the insane crew and arrived at a stowage bay where we found a young boy and two robed individuals. It was the astropath Trelany sensed and his two attendants. 
 
We ran to the cutter, and I was surprised to find that the attendants were capable fighters. The merchantman had been successful in its own right, but it was now in its death throes. It exploded in shuddering impacts that reached our tiny craft and we were thrown about.
 
It snapped the young boy's mind. I felt waves of fear, smelt burning ozone and felt my power armour began to freeze. I looked up and saw the two attendants being ripped apart by ribbons of energy and Trelany aiming a pistol. There was a shot and the fury died down.
 
I cast my helm aside and vomited, surprised slightly that gravity had stopped working. 
 
When I gathered my dignity I went to Trelany, cradling the young boy in her arms. Bain flew out himself to rescue us and I respected Trelany's wishes and ordered the cutter destroyed. Only Trelany and I returned alive.
 
 
Tris Ukot
 
The nebula barely deserved the to be called one any more, most of its stellar mass had been blown away by solar winds or pulled by gravitic tides. Strands of ionized hydrogen still condensed together into massive rivers around the corpse star. 
 
It was an ideal place to refuel, Binar had known this and refitted three halo barges with augurs that could work in the soup and a massive collector, a scoop, to harness the hydrogen and store it as promethium. Fruits of the various archeotech samples we had recovered.
 
Idris petitioned to join and the two took the barges and began their collection. A few runs could provide enough fuel for the Blessed Enterprise to have made the journey here worth it. 
 
We settled and slowed to make rendezvous easier. The torpedoes emerged almost directly under us, and I barely had the time to order emergency maneuvers and to brace for impact. Our interceptors on combat void patrol duty did what what they could even as our turret crews burned themselves trying to shoot down the missiles. 
 
Three exploded in the void. One torpedo gouged armour off our prow and was turned away from a direct frontal hit. It struck the starboard side and killed the gunnery crews that were responding to my alert. We still don't know how many died, but the hammer strike destroyed the starboard batteries and set us aflame.
 
An Infidel rose from the river of hydrogen and I gave the only order I could. 
 
The torpedo took out several Gellar field generators making an emergency translation suicidal at best. Instead, we dipped into the strand of stellar matter. If it hid the raider it could hide us.
 
We entered just as two more Infidels rose, their torpedoes rippling from their prows. 
 
Repairing damage was my main concern, but I still ordered non-essential systems to shut down, conserving power as we fought the current of the stream. Ionized hydrogen lashed at our void shields, scouring our armour when it leaked through, but we held firm. 
 
It was Binar and Idris who found us and steered us into relative safety. They had filled their promethium tanks and were ready to dock. 
 
I was briefly tempted with the idea of slamming the halo barges into the Infidels, but that was a costly attack without a real chance of damaging the raiders. Instead, I planned on boarding the Infidels and killing them from within. Even with double-loading our cutters I had to turn away many volunteers. I could not deny the crew their chance at vengeance.
 
The first Infidel, the one that struck us, followed us in but quickly lost the Blessed Enterprise in the murk. We docked six cutters, with Binar's help and Idris' guidance, and begun killing the depraved crew once inside. We split into two teams: Binar would lead one and set charges to detonate the torpedoes while I would lead a very loud, very bloody assault towards the bridge as a distraction.
 
It was suffocating, mind twisting, and gut churning, but we succeeded. The Infidel's death showed up even on the Blessed Enterprise's hooded augurs.
 
Another Infidel began loosing torpedoes into the strand, hoping to score a lucky hit. The missiles exploded prematurely, succumbing to the streams of plasma long before they became a danger. We returned to our ship and Trelany and Idris began to plot the launches.
 
Bain took Binar out to the edge of the strand and relayed what data they could. I went to work with calculations I hadn't used since my earliest days of training. Our first salvo smashed through the raider's void shields as our lance flared out and burned into its prow. We had timed the launches to make sure the prow was loaded. 
 
The third Infidel fled the system and we spent several days effecting repairs. I did not wait for it to return with its comrades.
 
 
Bala
 
Weeks of frustrating emergency translations eventually took us to our final distress signal. We arrived at a placid looking system and immediately threw the transports lingering in the system's edges into a panic. A heavily scarred cruiser was certain to send anyone into a panic, and I was not at my most charming.
 
With Sevia manning Stromport we had no access to Missionaria Galaxia records. All we could gather from the system was that it had been placed under some sort of quarantine but no records of that existed in any Navy communiques or trader dispatches
 
The weeks in transit were not kind to us. We diverted once to a distress call and found survivors tearing each other apart until they saw us and turned their macrobatteries at us instead. We were forced to defend ourselves but their macrocannon did terrible damage to us. So perhaps the transports did have a reason to fear us.
 
Our scans of the system revealed an interesting object in orbit of the seventh planet. It was a yard, a small void station, that seemed to be in working order. We needed an anchorage and made contact with the station. The administrators of Balapito were most accommodating, joyous in their restrained way at the arrival of a ship. It seems their own augurs were not up to Imperial standards though their machinery seemed to be. They also lacked heavy lift capabilities and the mining operations below on the planet could only send a trickle of the materials we needed. I traded a salvaged, beat-up halo barge for the majority of our repair materials and bartered for the rest with a few tools the Mechanicus were willing to depart with.
 
Work was slow for the tired crew, but with Balapito's help, we were able to patch up the damage done by the torpedo. They lacked adamantium casts but had ceramite and battle plasteel to spare. It would do until we reached Stromport.
 
When we finished, the administrators asked us to ferry more materials to the sixth planet, Balanim. The ocean world was home to a large "fish", samples of which revealed it to be a dragon-whale thing, that had succulent flesh if prepared properly. Its oils and fats could be harvested for other uses and Idris was already eyeing the scaly hide for a dress. If the dragon-whales were plentiful this system would be a treasure trove.
 
We agreed and took on fresh dragon-whale products and stored them in stasis. They did not lack for heavy lifters, but were in constant need for the processed materials of Balapito who relied on them for food. Balalima, the next planet in, relied on the dragon-whales as well, but for industrial purposes. They displayed armour that was half as light as the best carapace armour but just as protective made from the treated hides. The oils and various chemical byproducts had interesting applications as well. 
 
It was around this time, as we took on more dragon-whales, that Trelany indicated she and the rest of the astropaths were feeling a dimming of their powers. Idris had charted our progress, noting just how perfectly the system was situated, and how the planets seemed to allow a void ship to use its gravity to come closer and closer in. Binar had been studying the primary, an ancient star that should have shucked off its outer layers a long time ago but burned defiantly.
 
Balalima reminded me of Mars without the completed orbital ring. The Magos openly gawked at the forge world. It was impossible, how could a system like this with a forge world not have the capability to produce small craft let alone system freighters?
 
It was Bain who gave the order even as I wanted to press in closer. We turned around and burned out of the system. I ordered the dragon-whales voided from our holds, I can only imagine the confusion of any onlookers at seeing mammoth sea creatures trying to swim in the void.
 
We fled to the edges of the system and I gave the remaining transports there a choice to follow us to Stromport or stay here. The six remaining ships entered formation and we departed.
 
It was time to return to port.
Nameless2all likes this

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Now that I've got that posted, in record time no less, I must share something:

 

Infidel-class Raiders frighten me.

 

They're slightly better armoured and slightly more durable than Cobra destroyers, but what frightens me is that each one can fire 4 plasma torpedoes. One hit the Blessed Enterprise and it took out the starboard Sunsears and did ~15 damage to our hull.

 

And there were two more Infidels If it weren't for the nebula we dipped into, I have no doubt that we would've been blown out of the void.

 

The GM's being tight lipped about our potential opponents, but we have been given a taste of what torpedoes can do.

 

Thoughts? Are there rules that help squadrons shoot down torpedoes more easily?

 

I'm trying to get some upgraded turrets as well, those micro-defense laser things.

Edited by Marwynn

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If you don't want Xeno tech on your ship there are also the flack turrets in BFK not as good but pure human tech.

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Right, Flak Turrets and the Micro Laser  Defense Grid are your best bets in this regard.

I actually think about creating a carrier out of our cruiser with both. Basically "We launch, you stay away with your crap."

Sebastian Yorke likes this

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The trick is getting the MLDG in the middle of a warp storm. Plus finding time to refit it onto my poor Dictator.

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but what frightens me is that each one can fire 4 plasma torpedoes.

That'd be the standard raider torp launcher.

Expect every torp raider to launch 4 torps at a time. :)

And yes, the obvious answers are Turrets and fighters.

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Investigate what warheads, propulsion and guidance systems the enemies are using, as the combination can really change how the raiders operate.

If they have longer range abilities they'll try and silent run to optimal position to fire torpedoes along your current flight path, giving you less time to evade.

If using quicker, short burn torpedoes they'll likely full speed at you, launching torpedoes before veering away and blasting you with dorsal weapons.

And if they are silly enough to use guided torpedoes, well you know what your Explorator should be doing :P

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