Rogue Trader: A quest for profit in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium. But dying in mediocrity and misery is for poor people and losers, and a Rogue Trader's retinue is anything but.
It's Always Heretical in the Kronus Expanse is bought to you by:
Lord-Captain van Hohenheim - Rogue Trader. Hero. The last of his line. Possibly insane, although a holiday has done much to soothe his agitated mind. Questionable epicurean delights have left him unreasonably muscled.
Magos Abigail von Thannhausen - A Magos Explorator-Chymist who possibly takes too much pleasure in the craft of Servitors. Accompanied by her servo-skull. Ever since doing warp-eel shots, she seems more insightful somehow.
Archaius "Boosto" Wash - A gunnery sergeant with a now less-irritating artificial voicebox and a jetpack. We are all amazed by his apparently-infinite agility, and his recent ability to just shrug off pain.
Sebastian LaMarck - A seneschal with a silver tongue. Spymaster and king of Human Resources. One hell of a butler, even when he's on autopilot.
Winter York - Astropath Transcendant. Monstrous willpower. Notorious advocate of psychic power pissing matches, and freshly endowed with wings, somehow. Your glorious narrator and remembrancer.
The next morning, the command staff is feeling the night before.
Wash's morning self-flagellation isn't tickling like it used to. The Lord-Captain's exercise regime of lifting amasec bottles has paid off, but perhaps too fast -- he has trouble getting through doorways, and aside from my hangover, my back appears to be sprouting bone spurs.
I book an appointment with the Magos. Yep, it's unnatural. She bandages it for me, and gives me some medical amasec and space panadol. I ask if I should lay of the Kriegian grox milk.
The Lord-Captain, by contrast, decides to go for a third-party doctor; the Magos tries stalking him with a servo skull, and fails miserably. The Captain finds a good doctor, and after accepting a complimentary pair of fist-sized grox tranquilizers, diagnoses him with unusual hormone imbalance or really good, but poorly installed, vat grown muscle. There's not really much he can do about it, except recommend a more even install of muscle on a planet with the appropriate facilities.
Wash also pays the Magos a visit; she diganoses it as successfully surpassing the weakness of the flesh. She tries to put him on the table
We make our way to the Foretelling; as we get closer to the place, architecture worsens, stone structures in poor condition, and there's precious few people around, not even the usual scum.
I feel ill at ease. We must be close.
We're met by LeFrancois at "The Cell", a crumbling stone structure with a barred opening; it gets a wide berth from the few other people around.
We hear eerie voices that come from all around us. Ahead of us, the air is punctuated by occasional screams.
There are two guards; once their quilted armor was white, but time and stains have made them worse for the wear. Each one carries a staff with a copper orb, cables linking it to a pouch on their belts. They wordlessly welcome us and lead us in; the walls are lined with stained padding like their armor.
The place feels a lot like an abandoned asylum.
We cross one last threshold, and the guards close the gate behind us, not accompanying us any further. We're plunged into darkness, and the air feels moist. We don't balk, and the light returns, flickering and staccato. We see seven witches, as well as the other auction winners, and they speak as one, bidding us welcome.
"Many have heard the call, but how few shall reach the destination?"
They focus their power, and the temperature drops once more. They profess to be beyond even the Emperor himself. Dread fills us. Someone vomits, and we're all snatched away into a void of pain. I try to resist, but
The vision comes to us.
We are adrift on a sea of roiling energy. The raw stuff of nightmares swirls all around. Screaming voices, seven streams of voices, speaking as one, directly to our souls. A cipher forms in our mind, a time and place. An oval gemstone, glittering against the velvet of space, and we are compelled to take it. We must own it.
We return to reality, awakening with a start. I feel an opp
The vision clarifies. The gemstone isn't a gem, it's a planet, wrapped in a warp stone. And we feel like we just need to look at a star chart to know where it is.
Before they fall silent, the witches have one last word of advice for us: "It's not a gem, it's a pearl; a pretty, dread pearl."
As we digest the information, there's several snaps of energy and ozone; several witnesses vanish, including Fel, which ruins our plans to put him six feet deep and eliminate some competion.
LeFrancois, dabbing at his mouth with an embroidered kerchief, makes eye contact with us and legs it. Along with most of the others. Everyone's in quite a hurry to depart.
We've got quite the star chart waiting for us on our ship, so we make haste to it. As we're making our way up to the bridge, the ship begins to rock; something is shooting us! Auspex tells us it's the guns on the docking arm.
We get a transmission; the big goon who tried to mug us is there. He gives us Hadarak Fel's regards. Wash blasts two of the turrets shooting us, and they stop, fearful for their lives.
The damage is done, however; they tickled our engines, which isn't scuttling us, but is going to slow us down until we fix them in a couple of days.
As we make our way out to the jump point, the Navigator sits us down to chart a path with us; he begins to describe how he views the warp.
The Navigator shows us his view of the warp; not unlike a hedge maze, with the beacon of the Astronomicon
We're watched the whole way; eyes in the hedges, belonging to awful, awful things. The Navigator is trying his best, but he's lost.
More and more eyes are closing in on us, like sharks in the water. We need more time. I plan to buy it, channelling more power to try and draw attention from the Navigator. Wash begins to pray feverishly. The Magos prays to the Omnisiah.
With the Lord Captain's encouragement to Do Better, the Navigator gets what he needs, and we drop out of the vision and back onto the table.
Alarms are going off when we return; we've got contact about a hundred thousand klicks out. It's an Imperial ship, belonging to a trader or free captain... shooting at what appears to be nothing. The Lord-Captain wants to join in. We prepare for battle stations, and hail the ship doing the shooting to assist.
It's the Captain who bid the mummified remains of the priest-king. He's extremely jaunty, and goes by the name Jeremiah Blitz. He can't tell what it is he's actually shooting at; he suspects it's Eldar. He won't ask for help, but if we're giving it, he'll take it, particularly as the Lord-Captain is doing it >For Free. Blitz likes this, and calls him a good bastard.
We properly engage the ghost ship; the Magos tries to ping it on auspex; the ship sort of shows, flickering in and out. The Lord-Captain takes the helm, and brings us closer; we get a visual on it, it's some sort of translucent ship. Wash opens up on it, scoring a firm hit. The ship flickers, and sure enough, an eldar ship swims into view. It doesn't respond to a vox hail. Which was expected, in hindsight.
Blitz opens up on it, too, and scores a direct hit. It rocks, and flickers firmly back into view, before going ghosty again. Parts of it glow, burning craters in the enemy vessel.
It turns it's attentions to us. It fires what look like little suns across our shields; they don't get past, but the shields take a hammering.
This time, I reach out to it psychically. I'm slapped psychically for the trouble, taking a wound. The Magos calibrates the macrocannons, the Lord-Captain rallies the gunnery crews, and Wash cuts loose with an absolutely blistering shot clean through the eldar ship, ripping a hole straight off the top of the ship. The laser makes contact, and shakes the ship hard; it disengages, and tries to fuck off, leaving nothing but wreckage behind, which we scavenge.
Blitz hails us again, and congratulates us; if we weren't rivals and in a race, he'd stop to have a drink with us. We wish him well anyway, and toast to a fair fight.
The material we got from the ship is mysterious; it seems porous, but is actually rather smooth. On contact, I briefly hear alien singing.
We reach the jump point, and punch it into the void at full speed.
It's sixty days to our destination. To pass the time:
- I discover that Wings growing in. It's an interesting morning, and thereafter, I spend a lot of time on the flight deck, eating bulkhead.
- We now have a franchise branch of MagosDonalds onboard.
- The Magos works on "Reading the bolts". I suggest making them out of that hull material we pulled off the eldar ship. It seems to work: The Magos asks: "Where in the world is Skekris?", and she gets a vision of an asteroid, bristling with weapons; and inside it, a facility. The Magos Skekris. An operating room.
Wash has intense feelings of Deja Vu when I share those images with everyone. And the Lord-Captain has an unshakable sense of dread.