Saturday 11 July 2020

Rogue Trader Season 3: Coming in from the Cold, Part 1

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. Protein shake advocate. The last of his line, and currently searching for the one thing that obscene wealth cannot easily procure, nor his now prodigious strength wrest from the world by force: Love.
Magos Abigail von Thannhausen - A Magos Explorator-biologist, chymist, and practicing genetor, and most definitely the heart of the command staff. The Lord-Captain's wingwoman in his ongoing romantic forays.
Archaius "Boosto" Wash - A sector-renowned pilot of anything with wheels, wings, or a gellar field, and peerless swordsman. Often seen approaching the speed of sound, by virtue of his jetpack, but soon may be heralded by bombardment from a multi-melta.
Sebastian LaMarck - Rarely heard or seen, but his presence certainly felt, our Spymaster and reigning king of Human Resources and Administration. By him, every command given by the Lord-Captain is magnified.
Winter York - Astropath Transcendant. Unsurpassed willpower and aspiring champion of markswomanship, despite the obvious handicap of being blind. Three time recipient of the Death's Door award. Notorious advocate of psychic power pissing matches, more machine than woman at this point, and endowed with wings. Also your glorious narrator and remembrancer.

It's been a long time. Three years since the Dread Pearl.

Our settlement, Verloren, has grown; cities have sprung into existence, and the Lord-Captain's personal residence, Meridian Prime, has been established; it's been extensively furnished, including a round table with a slightly more prominent seat, and statues of the Lord-Captain are prominent and (somewhat) tasteful; among them, a statue of him in a thoughtful pose, a statue of him wrestling an oncoming Ork that bears a strong resemblence to Hadarak Fel (spitting sound), and a statue of him holding the world aloft, supported in turn by statues of us.

Our (the Lord-Captain's) wealth has expanded; we made full use of the bounty provided by the Dread Pearl, which has swelled the dynasty coffers, and almost as importantly, Hadarak Fel (spits) has not been heard of since -- with any luck, he didn't make it out, but knowing that weasel, he certainly did.

In terms of health, the Lord-Captain has never been better; now accustomed to his new muscles, which have been evened out by judicious use of premier vat-grown muscle, his strength is rapidly approaching the realm of legend, putting him on a truly galactic stage; by contrast, the Lord-Captain's personal life is... not quite falling apart, as that implies there is something to be salvaged, but there is definitely something left to be desired. As fantastic company the command crew is, dating options are exceptionally thin on the ground, and being the last of his line in a profession which carries no small amount of personal risk makes for some tremendous dynastic pressure to produce an heir.

To this end, the Magos, working her own family's prominent connections, is playing Wingwoman, helping to arrange suitable suitors:

This is a quest not helped by the Lord-Captain's reputation as the "Mad Captain", so it's an uphill battle.

Sebastian, ever diligent, has ensured the day-to-day function of the dynasty, and in his spare time, focused his Verloren-based efforts inwards. Thanks to him, what areas of Verloren are civilized are heavily bugged and monitored, generating a steady stream of intel for a man with his thumb gently-but-firmly on the pulse of a new settlement, and a new genatorium means power supplies going forward will be ample, and bountiful enough for something anti-orbital. In case of an emergency, of course.

In the Magos' spare time, when she hasn't been meddling in the Lord-Captain's love life, or performing any one of the countless surgeries on myself, she's been working on isolating the genetic sequence that has rendered our Lord-Captain so... vascular. She's succeeded, but the development process was a bit hit-and-miss, and initial experimentation has resulted in a small squad of Kevins who have set up a full gym in the prow, pumping iron 24/7 and spotting each other. 

Wash, having made an excellent name for himself during the Dread Pearl Incident, has also made leaps and bounds; his skill and reputation as a pilot has given him the pull to establish a team of crack interceptor pilots, forming the first Verloren air force. When he's not out-flying his trainees, he's beeb working on personal improvement; he's made excellent use of the Hohenheim Gym, and has seen similarly remarkable gains. He also made significant material gains; his latest acquisition has been a multi-melta, the logistics of which he's still figuring out how he'll commit to.

And then there's me -- by the Will of the Emperor, I survived our encounter with the Eldar on the Dread Pearl. While I certainly lost the battle, I have made a very strong argument that I won the overall war with the space elves; after all, I'm still here, I can stand under my own power, and I can boast about it. Meanwhile, brave sir Eldar bravely ran away, only escaping Wash's relentless pursuit thanks to his backup dancers.

Survival has come at a cost of some of what humanity I still possess -- once again at death's door, I've received extensive skin grafts, new skeletal prosthesii, and a lot of physiotherapy. But in the time where I wasn't in surgery or recuperating, I've been brushing up on some of the fundamentals; and in so doing, have sharpened my skills.

A rendition of the physiotherapy process, as provided by the Magos herself.

In anticipation of a full return to combat power, I've procured a twin-linked pump shotgun; sixteen shells, ten kilos, and enough firepower to eviscerate any xeno at close range, until I need to reload which will take me a good half minute. My diminished condition means that I cannot make proper use of it, but close proximity and the extra buckshot should make up the difference until I get my gunplay back together.

But in the meantime, we have business to attend to. As the ship's radio, I get a transmission; it's for me. An old friend wants to catch up, and he's calling in a debt owed. But I change it, and now it's a different message, for the Lord-Captain. A 44 Quintillion Throne, 298 year old debt at Space PF Changs'. All to get the ship to the planet where I need to have a chat with someone from my past, who dared to bring up old debts.

The faked message. The debt is accurately calculated, and even the Administratum would sit up and take notice of such a number. A debt this large could leverage anything.

It turns out to be my ex-CO, Lieutenant Nial of a mercenary outfit named the 13th Casque (formerly Sergeant in the 589th Scintillian Fusiliers, in which we served together), who has been caught up in the cold trade -- while running security for a client with a xenos dig site out in the expanse, he realized that the Inquisition might have the Casque's ships marked. He wants us to help transport artifacts out of a dig site, with the reward being the dig site.

I agree to convey the mission to the Lord-Captain, and warn Nial to keep his damn mouth shut. He agrees, and parts ways for now, awaiting my signal. I catch up with the crew, who have resolved the fictitious debt issue, and are seated at a table in PF Changs; the air is decidedly frosty, and I present him with the job -- we're going to the dig site to clean up evidence of the Casque's involvement, taking away the last shipment of artifacts which they cannot move themselves without being spotted, and cannot otherwise profitably dispose of them.

Out of character, it was noticed that the terms of the agreement which Nial provided, and the terms which I relayed to the Lord-Captain, are very much different, and will almost certainly cause strife. It was a genuine accident on my part, but one that I will not only commit to, but make full use of.

The Lord-Captain is displeased with my deception in bringing the whole crew to Malfi, and questions my loyalties, but grudgingly accepts that there might be profit in the matter, and so my execution is stayed, pending the results of the business venture.

He gives me a day to get my shit together, and after I pick up Nial, we head out. I put Nial in third-class. He sounds like he expected more from a former subordinate who owed him her life. I remind him that he's the one who's trying to dredge up my past. He's lucky he's not dead.

We spend 25 days in the warp; and 109 days in real-time. We arrive at the destination; it's not on any naval charts. They only knew it was there because an Admech beacon reactivated around 4 years ago. The Lord-Captain is still pissed with me, and pointedly waits for me to start calling the shots; with him disguised as a (very vascular) standard Kevin, a few regular Kevins, and Nial, we head down to the surface with the gun cutter.

We find the dig site with Nial's guidance; there's not much left, just a few miners left, Casques on sentry duty, and a few prefabs in the process of being dismantled. Here, Nial changes; he stands up straighter, and gets into his element as an officer; this is his turf.

There's more Casques here than I thought -- he didn't just rebuild the outfit, he's strengthened it. When the time inevitably comes for me to throw him under the bus, I'm going to need to put in some work to make sure he doesn't drag me with him.

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