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.
In the absence of a qualified Arch-Millitant, it's established the ship's lead marine is Texas Kevin, a kevin with a long drawl, an Imperium belt buckle, and twin belasco duelling pistols.
We recap where we actually are. In our haste, we've travelled clean across the Kronus Expanse, to the galactic northwest, out by the Heathen Stars -- we've covered Footfall to Zayth, and gone a little further beyond.
The rest of the command crew had a vision when we entered the temple; the pearl was split, scattered across the segmentum. The shards are located on:
Processional of the Damned, not far from Magaros.
Zayth, in the galactic north
Vaporius, just north of the Heathen Stars
One in deep space
Dross, a planet yet unlocated on our map.
Sabrine, a planet yet unlocated.
We plot a course to Vaporius, which should be a feudal world, according to our records. The journey takes several weeks. In this time, I've had the jewel-encrusted eye installed. I now see the world tinted blue through it. With that, and my red eye, I am now perfectly prepared for cutting-edge 3d video.
When we arrive, we find the planet a wasteland, according to the lord-captain and the ship's auspex. Using my special eyes, I can see the planet seems to fair glow with the aftermath of some serious psychic power; most of it focused on a mountain range -- apparently one of the tallest on the planet. Conditions are expected to be cold and unfavorable. I prepare a scarf. The Magos prepares her fur-lined outer robe.
We board a guncutter, and descend. As we get closer, the planet is more of the same; deep plunging valleys, windswept hills... not a lot of green. We're sticking as close to the terrain as we can safely manage when we're rising, and spot a small plateau; there sits a temple, and the Magos declares it to be exactly what we're looking for.
Wash looks for a landing place; he finds a plateau about five klicks out, but it's going to be a hell of a landing. He sticks it. There's barely three meters' clearance. I unclench my hands from my armrests and congratulate Wash on the touchdown.
At this point, we realize we didn't really come prepared for mountainclimbing. It's going to be a challenge to get up the mountain.
As it turns out, the weak link in a hiking expedition is the Lord-Captain, seeing as the rest of us can glide or outright fly. And so, between us, we manage to get the Lord-Captain up to the temple with our peerless teamwork and camaderie, covering the five kilometers in just a few hours.
On our way, we see some of the local wildlife. Huge, 3-10m tall animate piles of rock, they look like. The Lord-Captain is surprisingly knowledgeable about these sort of things, and believes they're not natural, artificially made or introduced.
Everyone's thoughts turn to money. Wash believes they'd fetch an okay price for a live one. The Magos certainly knows the order biologis would be interested in it. The Lord-Captain tries to smoke one, but his plasma pistol misfires and he drops it. Luckily, not off the entire side of the cliff.
We continue to the temple. Up close, it's not actually that large, just a few metres across, framing an impressive view of the landscape beyond. Through it, we can see something glittering in the sunlight. A city, made of glass? On the ground, scuffed markings and lines, not dissimilar to the markings on the temple on the fake pearl. Again, it looks like a map.
But it seems like there's something more to it, although nobody can quite make heads or tails of it. I take about ten minutes trying to figure it out, but no dice.
The party lingers, trying to figure out this map. If only we had a navigator here... I take another ten minutes, and still nothing, but I'm getting close.
Then I get it. I feel like I've just found a piece of a puzzle. I can see some stars and planets, and their fate -- moving through time, rather than space.
Endowed with knowledge, we decide to move on to the glass city.
As we get close, it's definitely an exotic city -- copper and glass stretching high, in the middle of the desert. Apparently human in origin, according to the Lord-Captain; he made a long lecture about divergence from the building memes of the golden age.
We park in the outskirts and clamp our guncutter, before heading into the city. And amazingly, people. For the most part, tanned, hairless people in robes. But people nonetheless. Could the city have somehow cancelled our auspex readings? Whatever it is, they are suprisingly nonchalant and aren't paying nearly as much attention to us as we expected.
The Lord-Captain makes contact with them; they speak heavily-accented high gothic, and seem agreeable. We learn that the city is run by those called "Priest-Kings", and we're suggested to speak with them.
Wash reminds us that he can't understand high gothic. The Magos apologizes, but then keeps on talking high gothic.
In the meantime, until we see the Priest Kings, we're going to hang out at a restaraunt. On our way, though, we're intercepted by men in unadorned, but hooded, blue robes. They bow deeply, and with a flourish. They're from the Priest King, and he'd like to speak with us.
We head deeper into the city. Straight streets, like spokes on a wheel. As we get closer to the center, we see there's a large structure in the middle -- like an oversized well. The crowd is thick, but they part like water for our guides in robes.
We arrive at a plaza, and inside the largest building, a reception area. Our guides leave us be, for a moment, and leave us to appreciate the ambience for a bit. The building is cunningly wrought from glass and copper, surfaces furnished with silks, tapestries, and rugs. An extremely neo-middle eastern environment. Technology appears to be rather primitive, the extent of exposed weapons mere swords.
Psychically, there's something here, and it's everywhere. I'm swimming in it, a subtle energy. Different from the stuff on the mountain. There's something nearby that stands out, a candle to my fire, but that's not the source.
The tapestries tell the typical stories -- caravans, military victories, prominent leaders.
We're collected by an orderly, and guided to an audience chamber. At the door, we're met by a woman in a beaded robe who offers us drinks, which we gratefully accept. The instant the water hits our lips, we're overwhelmed by a sensation of purity and clarity -- it energizes and revitalizes us, and it feels like we're finally able to think clearly.
I psychically check it; it feels like it might be the source of the energy all around us.
The priest king, his robes beaded and red, is a slight man, and he greets us warmly. Priest King Ansai welcomes us to Lah'undun. He asks us what brings us here.
The Lord-Captain says we're here for a relic -- the dread pearl. He claims the Emperor has sent us, rather than divulging that we're in this for personal profit, at best.
"The emperor?" he asks.
"The God Emperor of Mankind." "Rest he on his eternal throne," I add.
We're approached from behind by several large men. They're not hostile, but not friendly, either. Ansai tells them to "bring him out".
We wait for a minute or two, and are turned around to see a restrained man being guided to them roughly. His garb marks him as a member of the Ecclesiarchy.
We're asked if we recognize him. Which we honestly don't.
The priest king informed us that he, and his cohorts, tried to turn the populace against the Priest Kings, speaking of the one true ruler. He is not a happy chappy about this, and demands that we leave, or die.
I attempt to ascertain if they worship anyone at all -- going for the argument that we are simply worshipping two sides of the same coin. They don't worship anyone. So they're that kind of priest-kings.
The Lord-Captain decides to give diplomacy another try in the face of the ultimatium, but we prepare to shoot our way out.
The Lord-Captain's flowery words are heard, at least. To summarize: We're from the same belief, but not here for the same purpose. We're asked to prove it. Kill the missionary.
The Lord-Captain immediately, with no hesitation or deliberation, smokes him in the face with a plasma pistol.
Ansai laughs. We will find the other missionaries. We will render them unto ash and atoms, as well as those they have converted. And when they are no more, we will have the assistance we seek.