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Being the

Personal and Confidential


Record
of
Laertes Geneso Olivares

Containing
in his own hand
his numerous adventures in the Far Expanse
and
the exploits of the
Dread Magos Robertson

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“So you shall hear
of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts,
of accidental judgements, casual slaughters,
of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
and, in this upshot, purposes mistook
fallen on the inventors’ heads: all this can I
truly deliver”

Hamlet
Act 5, Scene ii

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Table of Contents

Chapters
Ch. 1: Laertes Geneso Olivares Introduced. The Fall of Fel. Pirates Encountered.

Ch. 2: Inquisitor Torqk is Revealed, as are All Manner of Enemies. The Righteous Path Found.

Ch. 3: The Magos Builds an Army. Salvage of the Envenomed Blade. An Auction goes Awry.

Ch. 4: A Trap is Sprung. The Ninth Son of von Caius Dies. Hints of Conspiracy.

Ch. 5: The Council is Discovered. A Duel with a Minion. A Second Trap is Sprung.

Ch. 6: Another Vessel Acquired. Investigation of Dead World Infested with Orks. Much looting.

Ch. 7: The Hollow World. Laertes Loses a Limb. Ancient Technology and Heresy Exposed.

Ch. 8: A Journey to Idumea and the Sector. Idumea is Saved. Lathe Nine Changes Hands.

Ch. 9: Scintilla Burns, But Slightly. More Colonists for Ultionis. Orks Encountered.

Ch. 10: The Crusade Fleet Prepares. A Kraken. The Further Plans of the Council Revealed.

Ch. 11: The Seven Witches, the Dread Pearl, and Another Auction. Rivals Multifarious.

Ch. 12: A Heretical Probe. The Stryxis and the Eldar. Alliances Formed and Broken.

Ch. 13: Zayth, Vaporius, the Light of Terra, and Dross.

Ch. 14: The Processional of the Damned. The Dread Pearl, Briefly Conquered. More Eldar.

Ch. 15: Recovery and Purchases. Dross Yields a Profit. The Treachery of the Council.

Ch. 16: An Old Foe Returns. A Miracle. More Purchases on the Road to War.

Ch. 17: Conquests and a Most Unfortunate Conflagration. The Necrontyr Awake. A Suicidal Rescue.

Ch. 18: A Difficult Choice. The Crusade Diverted. Allies and Favours.

Ch. 19: Two Fleets Clash. A Narrow Escape. Three Dead Worlds.

Ch.20: Catacombs and Tombs. A God Awakens. The Necrontyr cast down.

The Further Exploits of Laertes Geneso Olivares, Summarized

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Errata, Addendum, and Miscellany
History, Customs, Tragedies, and Changes to His Invincible Will

Crew Registry (before and after the Scouring)

Changes after the Scouring (The Chronicles of Artur of the Upper Hull)

Inquisitorial Addendum (concerning Lucien von Caius)

The Lathe System

An Essay on the Nature of the Kraken

St. Trinian's Conservatory

Bidders at the Auction (Scintillan)

The Idumean Recruits, personal account

Stats, Formations, and Ships


The Combined Crusade Fleet, listing

His Invincible Will

The Envenomed Blade

Yorick’s Bane

The Fifth Business

The Rozencrantz

Captain Laertes Geneso Olivares

Magos Plan B. Robertson

Thanks and Flattery

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Chapter the First
It was pure chance that brought me to Port Wander. Our family had never spent long at this port,
preferring the less... stringent... world of Footfall. But we were running low on supplies before setting out
for the Expanse, and it would not do to start a tale of bloody revenge on an empty stomach.

But I digress: we were docked at Port Wander. Whilst I was negotiating for food and other such
consumables, one of my servants brought me a message from one Orbest Dray, a man of no repute, who
wished an audience. He proclaimed that he was a servant of the Olivares, and had been waiting for one of
my line to return. In truth, I would have ignored his message and continued with my business, but he did
mention that he had a gift for me. A gift, he said, passed on from my departed great-grandfather.

Now, I am loath to discard treasures of my family‟s past, particularly when they are freely given. Taking
up arms, and with four sworn bodyguards accompanying me, I set forth to meet this Dray. Let the man die
who calls me a fool, for even then I suspected an ambush. But, in cunning, I was accompanied by a servo-
skull linked directly to the mind of my Mechanicus Magos, who was ensconced within the machinery of
the ship‟s Teleportarium. Should danger threaten, he could extract me at any time.

We made our way to the market Dray had decided was to be our meeting place. The stench of that
wretched hole haunts me still, though I wore filtration plugs. Truly, I was glad I wore gloves and full
armour for the crowd jostled me so. As we moved through the heaving mass of people crowding the
market, I was alerted by the ever-vigilant Magos that we were being followed. His servo-skull‟s auspex
and keen ocular implants had pinpointed four men pursuing us in a loose ring. I motioned for one of my
armsmen to follow one of their number, and for the rest to follow me.

Dray, it must be said, was a disappointment. He wore naught but rags, and stank of cheap spirits and
urine. Nevertheless, he recited the oaths of service most faithfully, and beckoned us to a more secluded
location. There he began a rambling tale, stopping frequently to scratch himself or check over his
shoulder.

As far as I can recall, he said that he served aboard The Emperor’s Testament, a ship captained by one
Vos Karlorn, which was part of my great-grandfather‟s fleet. At some point, the fleet was blown off
course by a warp storm, and they found themselves far from known space-lanes. There, they detected an
ancient astropathic signal from a ship long thought lost: the fabled Righteous Path.

At this point, I began to fall asleep. Surely, this doddering old fool did not presume to tell me that he had
some knowledge of that fabled treasure ship? I had heard the stories since childhood: a ship filled by a
madman with the treasure of a plundered world: a ship lost two thousand years ago: a ship no man could
find a trace of? He continued to ramble as I dozed off, but then brought out a box marked with the
Olivares crest, the model of the crest on my ring.

As I took the box in hand, it sprung open. Some sort of gene-lock, I suppose, cunningly wrought. Within
the case was an ancient mnemolith, an astropathic call recorded for eternity upon a black stone the size of
a man‟s heart. In short: a treasure map. But before my hand closed around the stone, a raven swooped
down from the high buttresses and snatched the precious item from me.

Treachery! At the same moment as that damned bird stole what was rightfully mine, those men who had
been following me opened fire, killing the armsman I had sent to follow them. My band returned fire,
though the density of the panicked crowd hindered their aim. I am sorry to say that a few of their shots
went astray, and some of the common men and women of the station were killed.

5
With a practiced eye, I could see that my attackers were not trying to kill me, but merely inconvenience
me and allow the damned bird to escape. However, the stone it carried proved too heavy for its pathetic
wings, and both stone and bird crashed to the ground but twenty metres away. With the servo-skull
following, I ran for the rock, encouraging the crowd to throw themselves at my attackers as I did so.
Loyalty to the Emperor is not unknown in Port Wander, and a dozen men piled onto one of the scum,
dragging him down under their combined weight.

As lasfire shot past me, I reached the mnemolith, and with my hand around it, called for immediate
teleportation. My good Magos complied and the servo-skull and I were instantaneously whisked aboard
my ship. Teleportation being rather indiscriminate, one of my bodyguards, one of my attackers, three
civilians, and that thrice-damned raven were also swept up in the arcane energies.

Seeing my stormy countenance and knowing of my wrathful disposition, the scum threw his mistempered
weapons to the deck. I had him placed in irons and escorted to the brig, there to await interrogation at my
leisure. The raven attempted to fly off, but a shot with my fine laspisol brought it to the ground. Knowing
that psykers oft use such birds as familiars, I had it placed in a lead box and guarded.

I gave the mnemolith to one of my trusted officers, and bade him convey it to the Astropaths. I also
ordered the crew to prepare for departure. I also received vox-summons from Arbitrator-Sergeant Targos,
who asked for an exchange of prisoners. With great obsequiousness, I convinced him to wait but an hour.
Then, I proceeded to the brig.

The prisoner was initially unresponsive, but once I told him in great detail of the pain that awaited him, he
became more marginally eloquent. I say marginally because it was evident that some manner of psychic
block had been placed in his mind, preventing him from revealing his employers: more witchcraft at
every turn! I did, however, discover the name of the man who recruited him, and had his name searched
within the logic-engines of the ship.

My search proved fruitless: his recruiter was a notoriously secret black-market operator aboard the
station. It was doubtful we could compel the scum further, so I decided to release him into the care of the
Arbites. We descended to the station aboard one of my Aquila landers, and escorted by the nine Lightning
fightercraft in my charge. It would not do to appear weak before my now-revealed enemies.
I met with Precept-Marshall Kyra Valkyran: a direct if entirely humourless woman. She identified my
prisoner as a servant of the Fel dynasty. Rogue Trader Hadarak Fel, whose cruiser even now was docked
in the station, apparently desired the location of the Righteous Path, and was not above petty thievery.
Apparently, he also had a witch in his employ.

I gave over my prisoner, received promises that his execution would be swift and if possible painful, and
returned to my ship with my armsmen. Dray had found his way to the Arbites station as well, and I bade
him follow. The Astropath had finished deciphering the message by the time we returned. The rock
contained a single image of a star system, though none shown it recognized the location. I asked the
Astropath to scan the ship of Hadarak Fel, looking for a psychic presence. He found one: a rogue psyker
of considerable power. I ordered this grievous breach of Imperial law to be reported, and sent a message
bearing my personal seal to the Inquisitors of Scintilla. Though it would take many months for a response,
if one ever came, official censure would tarnish the Fel line.

Dray revealed that the witch‟s name was Lady Ash, devoted servant to the Fel line. This psyker, I
deduced, had probably gotten the same picture from the mnemolith as my Astropath. Her raven might
have acted as a psychic conduit, so it was logical to assume that the Fel dynasty knew what I knew.
Therefore, they would wait until I had uncovered the treasure‟s location, and then swoop in and steal it as
before. This, I knew, could not stand. While I favoured teleporting a crate of virus grenades into the
psyker‟s quarters, my Magos had a more cunning plan. I will tell you of it momentarily; first you must
know how I uncovered the treasure‟s location.

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I must admit my family‟s name has fallen on hard times, and our coffers are not as full as they once were.
The offices of the Imperial Navy at first declined to speak with me, as I had failed to bribe a sufficient
number of bureaucrats. But I did not despair, for to despair is to fail. With the aid of my ship‟s aging
Archbishop, and bearing his sacred relic, the Ear of St. Drusus, we gave homage to the Ecclesiarchy of
Port Wander, and they lent pressure to my quest. The Navy, fearful of divine censure, gave me the star
system with little trouble: the Divine Right rested in Magoros. They even provided charts. So kind of
them.

As I sat though hours of tedious negotiation and pleasant chit-chat, Magos Robertson was undertaking a
task of great cunning and personal risk. In an Argus lighter, he had faked security clearance and snuck
aboard the Fel‟s cruiser. Once within, he made his way, bold as brass, to the Enginarium, and, with a little
luck, gained access to the primary warp core cogitator unit. Once within, he planted three melta-bombs of
his own devising. The instant they detected warp transit, their specially primed detonators would blow the
core to pieces, taking the whole of the ship along with it.

Unfortunately, the moment I discovered the location of the treasure, the ship prepared for warp.
Evidently, the Hadarak‟s witch was monitoring my very thoughts! This turn of events was of great
concern for my Magos, as he had to make haste for his craft. Unfortunately, he found it impounded and
mag-locked for transit, and so had to devise an alternate plan. In his void-suit, he clung to the hull of the
great ship until her void shields dropped the moment before warp-transit. The tech-priests detected his
beacon and beamed him aboard just as the cruiser made her last warp transit. How my Astropath‟s howled
as that ship died... I examined the raven-familiar: it had exploded into feathers and gore the moment the
ship activated the warp drive. Truly, my heart leapt with joy.

Some may think that it was wrong of me to kill so many innocent men, but those shipmen that served Fel
were party to piracy, heresy, and sedition: they earned their fate. None who ally themselves with rogue
witches and worse can be counted innocent.

We left port shortly after, having checked and rechecked all systems for signs of tampering. I shall skip
the tedious story of the next two weeks, and speak only of the warp-ghosts we saw on our journey.

Fifteen days out of Port Wander, the Navigator detected an eddy in the warp moving towards the ship.
While a more cowardly man would have ordered his ship out of warp, I ordered a steady course. As the
wave passed over us, buffeting the ship but causing little damage, our eyes saw a strange sight. Alongside
us sailed a ghost ship: the very image of Fel‟s cruiser. Our paths intersected, and we were treated to the
sight of ghostly bulkheads and crew. Though they could not harm us, they did shout fearfully, and we
were glad to be rid of them. Though it unnerved the men, I was rather glad to get into a shouting match
with the late Captain Fel, an activity I was never able to enjoy while he lived. Sadly, he was mostly
incoherent, though very loud indeed.

After passing through the Passage, we dropped out of warp to realign, and my pilot detected a weak
repeating distress beacon. Being a kindly soul, I moved my ship towards the dense asteroid field from
which the signal emanated, all the while scanning the debris. My wise foresight was rewarded: two
raiders lurked in the asteroid field, waiting over a wounded pilgrim ship. Piratical scum; their first
indication that we were aware of them was when a volley of fire sliced into their hull. With a lucky lance
strike, we damaged one ship‟s auger array: this proved to be its downfall. As it powered towards us, it
failed to avoid a large asteroid, which crumpled its hull and left it a drifting wreck.

We engaged the second raider in a chase through the fields of rock for over an hour. All the while, its
captain and I exchanged threats and boastful words, neither side giving an inch. But with a lucky volley,
we disabled the pirate‟s void shields, and in desperation it turned to ram us. The combined fire of our
starboard battery turned it into wreckage before it could close.

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I fear my gun-crews did too fine a job: the dying ship‟s warp-engines tore a great hole in reality, and our
great vessel barely escaped its foul energies. Sadly, the pilgrim ship was dragged into the vortex, but
quick action on the part of the Teleportarium crew was able to save fifty souls from certain damnation.
They were apparently in the middle of a mass: their faith rewarded them with our intervention. Our
teleport also saved a holy relic from that dying ship, which I ordered interned in the Temple of the God
Emperor Triumphant. The pilgrims were bound for Footfall, but their pilgrimage must wait; we have
more weighty matters to attend to. The God-Emperor will forgive.

We set to work stripping anything useable from the wreckage of the first pirate vessel. Their atmosphere
had long since been exhausted, and no crew remained alive. At this moment, the scriveners are busy
counting the plunder, giving me time to complete this record. I pray that their inkwells may never run dry,
for there will be plunder aplenty when we arrive in Magaros.

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Chapter the Second
I am going to be fabulously wealthy. They will have to invent a new system of wealth to catalogue my
enormous fortune. I‟ll pay them to do it: after all, I‟ll soon be richer than the wildest imaginings of the
Scintillan nobility.

But this is supposed to be a sort of narrative, so I had best go back and fill in the details.

There we were, moored next to the wrecked pirate vessel. I had not mentioned in my last entry that some
of the crew were alive when we moored, including the captain of that ill-starred vessel. Some isolated
pockets of life remained in that dark ship. Most surrendered readily, but the bridge crew remained defiant.
So, I had my good Magos teleport ten virus grenades onto the bridge. Resistance... ceased.

I had one of my bodyguards fly me over in a lighter, and, once the virus had run its course, sent a raiding
party to investigate the bridge. I followed, and took the deceased captain‟s hat and sabre for myself.
While I was occupied inspecting the captain‟s coat for further valuables, a servant of mine ran in, holding
a stasis canister. Suspended within was the very model of our ship‟s sacred relic: the Ear of Drusus!
Suspecting fakery, I stowed the canister beneath my coat and returned to my quarters. Examine it as I
might, I could find no signs of false manufacture or imperfect workmanship. I yet debate genetic testing,
for there are disturbing implications. This relic could be false, meaning the pirates planned to steal ours or
to sell their forgery for truth. Our relic could be false, (Emperor forbid), but it has been ours for a
millennium. They both could be false, but from whence did they spring?

Or the great and sacred St. Drusus could have had two left ears. Curious how none of his portraits reflect
such a mutation...

Such matters are not of particular importance to this record. In any case, we stripped of all valuables, and
rescued over one thousand pirate crew. I had the survivors branded on the left arm with the traditional “P”
of Piracy, and then chained in the main hold. The hat and sabre I presented as gifts to the crew of Sunsear
Turret D-3, for it was their shot that destroyed the corsair‟s sensors, blinding them to the dangers of the
asteroid field. I made a short speech upon presentment, which was I think received well.

I debated going to Footfall, I truly did. I would have ignored the pilgrim‟s voices, for their numbers were
not great, but the small matter of a thousand captive pirates did vex me sorely. In the end, I decided to
make for Footfall after all. We docked two days later above that wretched den of scum and brigandry, and
I waited until the pilgrims had safely departed before preparing one of the cargo landers and filling it with
the pirate scum. We landed uncontested, and set up a sort of slave-auction on the landing pad.

The piratical brethren of the scum were coincidentally docked at the same time, and gave great utterance
to their outrage. I treated them politely, and bade them bid upon their captured comrades. By the Throne,
the fools actually did, and I dare say we dredged their coffers dry. Even then, they could barely afford to
buy back their officers, leaving the ratings to be sold off to less polite customers. At our heavily
discounted prices (for I was in a hurry, you see), we accumulated a great wad of cash after but a few
hours. We barely had time to load more supplies before launching once more.

As we powered towards the system‟s rim to prepare for warp transit, my keen-eyed pilot detected a small
vessel shadowing us. Though our sensors could not penetrate craft‟s shielded hull, he did distinguish an
Imperial crest upon the prow. I hailed the vessel, and was quite surprised to discover that our shadow was
a member of the Holy Ordos. He expressed some embarrassment at being so easily discovered, but I bade
him come aboard. It does not do to be impolite to the Inquisition, even so far from the light of Terra.

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He introduced himself as Interrogator Torqk, Ordo Hereticus. Evidently, our warning of Fel‟s heretical
leanings had not gone unnoticed, and our message was relayed from listening ears in Port Wander to his
master on Footfall. He had come to speak with me, and determine more about Fel‟s deviance. Lying to an
Inquisitor is a grave sin, so this is what I told him:

-that we had confirmed that the Rogue Trader Hadarak Fel had a rogue psyker of great potency in his
employ

-that he had left Port Wander slightly before us, and upon his departure the Astropaths experienced a
psychic disturbance of some kind

-that we had encountered his image and spirit while in the Immaterium, and attempted to converse with it
to no avail

-that such ghosts usually indicate that a ship has been lost utterly while travelling in the warp

No lies, you will note. The Interrogator seemed well served by my answers, and departed after a brief
visit. Once his vessel had broken dock, Magos Robertson indicated that a small vox-relay and tracking
beacon had been surreptitiously placed under my command throne. Our guest had gone nowhere near it,
and it was not until we reviewed the thermal sensors that an answer was found: he had not come aboard
alone. Throughout his entire visit, he had been shadowed by an invisible bodyguard cunningly concealed
behind some form of adaptive camouflage.

While I do welcome the agents of the Inquisition, I will not brook my private communications to be so
callously tapped. I placed his devices in a box, with a note that he should remember to pick up his
belongings when he leaves, and then tossed them from an airlock. As I went about this errand, a database
search revealed that Interrogator Torqk was not all that he seemed: he was, in fact, Inquisitor Torqk. Why
he chose to appear below his rank, and affected an attitude of mild incompetence, is indeed a question for
the chroniclers. I was just pleased our gunners had not vaporised his ship the moment we detected it.

Again, we prepared to depart, and again we detected a contact astern. This time, it was one of the ships of
the pirate clan we had decimated before. Tiring of delays, I sent a brief message to where I suspected the
Inquisitor‟s ship to be lurking, and asked him if he would mind intervening. A moment later, the pirate‟s
drives lost power: truly the workings of the Inquisition are great and mighty.

We went to warp, and arrived ten days later at Magoros. The star is a pulsar: every hundred minutes or so
a beam of deadly radiation sweeps the system, burning all in its path. Our void shields would spare us the
worst, but being caught out in the naked void would be instant death. Closest to the star was the scorched
world of Magoros Minor, bare rock and dust to our sensors. Next, the barely habitable world of Magoros
Prime, and furthest out the frozen jungle (a sudden climate shift, perhaps), of Magoros Secundus. Further
out: nothing but ice and asteroids orbiting in a great belt.

We made good speed for Magoros Prime. If there were any survivors of the Righteous Path or my great-
grandfather‟s vessel, this would be the world they would aim for, I reasoned. My reasoning was sound,
but nothing of human make was found on that world. Instead, we found the entire surface to be encrusted
with xenos structures and mazes. One “hive”, the largest, was crowned with a massive electrical storm,
making scanning difficult. Rather than risk descent, I ordered my ship out to Secondus.

The frozen jungles interested me not, but the strange xenos relics beneath the world‟s surface appeared to
be sending power to Magoros Prime, directly to the strange electrical storm. In addition, an ancient crash
site graced the ice of the northern pole: Orks had apparently once visited this system. Is it not written,
“Where there is one Ork, there are a thousand.”? I ordered my crew to greater vigilance.

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Swinging about, we made for the last world in the system. At first, it appeared barren, but careful
scanning indicated that there was a crashed Aquila lander in the desert. It appeared many centuries old,
and I decided it warranted investigation. Rather than risk the strange energies of the Teleportarium, I, in a
somewhat foolish move, decided to descend in one of my personal Aquila landers.

I forgot that the storms that wrecked one craft may wreck another. My pilot was not skilled enough to
keep the craft in the air, but he was skilled enough to let it crash gracefully. Everyone aboard survived the
crash: myself, two armsmen, a junior tech-priest, the pilot, and a lifting servitor. Oh, and that thrice-
damned servo skull.

Every hour-and-a-half, the pulsar‟s beam would scour the surface, driving us back to shelter. I defiantly
refused extraction by teleport or lander, and ordered the tech-priest to create a means of transport. Though
I could have run the distance to ancient crash-site, the sand and dust of this world would have been quite
fatiguing. Besides, if I was meant to walk, I would not have been given servants. Though it took many
hours, the tech-priest cobbled together a powered sledge of sorts. (May the Machine God forgive him his
sacrilege.) Driven by one of the lander‟s engines, we would reach the crash site in no time at all, I
reckoned.

I hadn‟t reckoned on the port grav-impeller failing, nor the pilot losing control, nor the resulting crash and
fireball. By the Emperor‟s grace, all but the pilot survived. His sacrifice was not in vain, for we had been
carried by the tech-priest‟s monstrous engine to very near the crash site. I set him to work extracting the
cogitator unit from the cockpit, while I prepared for teleportation. In a blast of light, we were scooped
aboard His Invincible Will, the dust of Magoros Minor falling from us. I commanded the Mechanicus to
divine the secrets the cogitator held, while I had a calming bath and scrubbed the disgusting grit of that
world from me.

My bath was disturbed by that blasted servo-skull. The Magos had deciphered the information, and
determined it was worth disturbing me for. Evidently, the wreck was that of an Explorator fleet‟s scout,
who had been cataloguing this system. The badly decayed records indicated that the lighting storm on
Magoros Prime was part of a curious xenos observatory. Evidently, all astrological events, such as the
location of the Righteous Path, could be found here. Donning my finest bathrobe, I ordered the ship again
to Magoros Prime.

Knowing that Orks were once in the system, I took no chances. In a heavy cargo lander, I descended,
Magos Robertson at my side, to the surface of that alien world. The storm prevented closer approach or
teleportation, so we would have to walk and climb to the “Star Mirror”. Disgusting, really. We left the
lander garrisoned with seventy-five armsmen, and, with twenty-five accompanying us, we set out for the
xenos relic. As we approached, my suspicions were confirmed: fresh Ork corpses on the rock. Minutes
later, the lander came under attack, though the armsmen aboard reported the Orks possessed little more
than bows and slings. The distant chatter of autocannon fire comforted me as we climbed. Just to be
certain, I ordered the Wild Lightning to descend and strafe any Orks and Ork encampments, which they
did with joy in their hearts.

After an hour‟s climb, our party reached the top of the hive. With the servo-skull hovering and providing
clear directions, navigation was quite easy, and the alien aesthetics of the observatory came into view. It
was made of the same dark crystal as the rest of the buildings, but seemed to glow somewhat as the
lightning cracked above.

We entered cautiously, and, once the room was deemed clear, set up a defensive perimeter. Two heavy
stubbers and a flamer covered the only entrance, with the other armsmen providing covering fire should
any debased Ork have the impudence to approach. Some witchery projected scenes of starships and space
around us, and with but a little force of will I scanned through ages of the system‟s celestial past. I
watched the crystalline ships of this world‟s builders come and go, and saw a great Imperial crusade pass.
I saw the Righteous Path, hull torn and rent, leave warp and crash into an asteroid in the outer system. I

11
saw my great-grandfather‟s ship in orbit above this very world. Did he gaze upon the same scenes as I
did? Did he too stand there and move time with a wave of his hand?

In any case, his eagerness proved his undoing, and his ship crashed into the asteroid as well. Over the
centuries, some beacon drew vessels to the wreck: it was becoming a nascent space hulk. The observatory
had also detected the good Inquisitor‟s gun-cutter, hot on my heels, enter the system, though it soon lost
the signal.

As I gazed upon these grand celestial scenes, my focus was interrupted by a ragged cry and the chatter of
a stubber. Apparently, Orks are impudent creatures, and some small number of them were charging up the
steps. The Emperor protects: our superior firepower mowed them down like grass before the reaper. As I
was distracted by this glorious scene of battle, an Ork who had lain concealed beneath a pile of refuse
reared up and charged. My good Magos was ever vigilant: his bolter barked four times and the Ork
detonated like an overripe fruit. I do wish he would learn some restraint when firing on fully automatic: I
was fair soaked in blood.

The location of our treasure found, our party proceeded in combat formation down to the lander.
Climbing over the piles of slaughtered Orks (how I was glad to wear my filtration plugs then), we
embarked and flew skywards without further incident. Onboard, I sent my armour for cleansing and re-
anointment, and retired for another bath. The tech-priests cleansed the lander and armsmen of the taint of
the Ork spoor as we sped towards the outer asteroids and our bounty.

As we approached the hidden resting place of the Righteous Path, our void augers detected a variety of
ghost readings directly astern. Knowing that the Eldar and other foul blights are wont to conceal
themselves such, I ordered the ship skewed sideways, and sent a clear vox-message to the last ghost
return: identify or be fired upon. Our response was an Inquisitorial vox-code. We were not clear of
Inquisitor Torqk yet.

To be truthful, I was not entirely unhappy to see the Inquisitor again. As we approached, the great tears in
the hull of the Righteous Path more and more resembled the marks of a titanic jaw. What warp-spawned
horror could so feast upon a battleship, and what stranger horrors lurked within?

With my ship anchored beyond danger, I set forth in an Argus lighter, with four armsmen, Magos
Robertson, and that accursed, damned, and forever-hated servo-skull. We docked as close as possible to
the bridge, and with a little machine-code exchange between the Magos and the airlock‟s warding-spirits,
we entered the derelict ship.

I should perhaps mention at this point that the ship still showed signs of power. Some manner of void
shield was protecting the primary generatorium and part of the cargo hold, and our augers could not
penetrate it. We had earlier decided that the best and most direct course was to go to the bridge and
determine what brought the Path to an untimely end before exploring that particular mystery.

Too much digression: we boarded and began a long march towards the bridge. At first, the corridor was
filled with a strange, semi-solid mist. It did not register as dangerous to our auspex, nor interact in any
way with conventional matter. Nonetheless, the areas of thickest fog slowed our progress somewhat.
Fearing it was the action of some unrevealed demon, I began to chant the litanies of faith, as did the
armsmen. In faith, even the Magos joined in. Our chanting did not affect the mist, but it did lift our spirits.
It did not, however, lift the interference which had plagued our vox-systems since boarding the ship.

When we reached the end of the first corridor, the lumen-globes reactivated, the grav-plating ceased its
unusual fluctuation, and the mist disappeared. This was truly strange, but I paid it little heed. After all: it
did no harm but cause fright, and fear is a weakness of the mind. We pressed on, and came to a set of
blast-doors marked with the “locked” rune. The servo-skull‟s auspex indicated that the door was not, in

12
fact, locked, but merely appeared to be so due to a fault in the machine-spirit. We fastened our safety-
lines (for the room behind was by no means guaranteed atmosphere), and the Magos opened the door.

Our caution was rewarded once more: the rush of air towards the door did little other than rustle papers
and knock one careless bodyguard from his feet. Inside, dozens of scribe-servitors sat in their places, most
rotted to dust and decay. Some sturdier and void-shielded models amazingly still moved, after four
centuries of neglect. They proceeded with their appointed task: imputing the record of the ship‟s plunder
into the database. After four centuries, they had not yet finished their appointed duty. It lifted my heart
greatly to see the ancient stacked scrolls; a detailed list of the contents of the hold. I could not carry any
with me, but their mere presence did me good.

Strangely, above our heads rustled dozens of servo-skulls. The Magos seemed to believe that they were
sharing some manner of machine-dialect, in effect forming a collective mind or node. I decided to leave
them be, as they were doing us no harm and we had business on the bridge. The mysteries of the
Machine-God are indeed... mysterious.

The next room contained more servitors. Apparently, they had been waiting for centuries to enter this
room, and the few functional models set about their tasks as the door was opened. We pressed on to the
central dorsal deck corridor; from there it was merely five-hundred metres towards the prow and two
decks up. Again, our progress was hindered by mist and shadow, but we chanted the Litanies to put a
High Pontiff to shame. Before the lumen-globes had dimmed, we had spotted the lift to the bridge at the
far end of the corridor: by the light of the Magos‟ servo-skull we ran for it.

I could have sworn the doors were closed before the lights went off. By the grace of the Emperor, the
elevator shaft was not subject to gravity: I was able to clip myself to the opposite wall before any serious
accidents occurred. As I did so, the secondary lift at the opposite end of the corridor, the lift that lead to
the lower decks of the great ship, opened with a clang. Through the mist and occluding black fog, we
could see three points of bluish-green light. I shouted (my voice amplified by the echoing corridor and my
void-suit‟s vox array), “In the name of the Immortal Emperor, stand and unfold yourselves!”. My
gracious hail was met with three beams of blue-green light, the likes of which I had never seen. By pure
luck, all three beams missed, but I wasn‟t about to allow my unknown enemies to get their aim adjusted.

I scurried up that lift-shaft most rapidly, followed by Magos Robertson (and his servo-skull), the four
armsmen bringing up the rear. As we moved upwards, free from gravity‟s embrace, we could see the light
return to the corridor we had just vacated. Above us, the thrice-sealed door to the bridge waited.

Though it pains me to say it, the servo-skull was useful this day. Its auspex discovered the four welding
charges placed around the door, and it disabled said charges once we cut a small hole for it in the door. It
also discovered and disabled the hidden flechette dischargers, and scouted the bridge before we entered.
The Magos was ever so smug.

We crawled in through the breached door. Evidently, some struggle had occurred here. Shot cannon and
turret were pointed at the only two doors to the bridge, but their gunners were long dead. It looked like a
last stand: there, the gunner clutching his eyes, here, the armsman cut in two by a beam weapon. The
captain sat still upon his command throne, dead of a bludgeoning wound. Around him lay his bodyguards,
some dead of strange beam-weapon cuts, others dead of brain-fever. These clues baffled and confused us
to no end. Was it a mutiny gone awry? A warp infestation? The predations of the dread Corsair Eldar? Or
was it the work of the strange and ancient device which stood where the Navigator‟s pit ought to be?

I ordered the armsmen guard the doors, and ordered the Magos to bring power to the captain‟s throne:
perhaps its records would bring light to this dark situation. He found the records only lightly sealed:
perhaps the late Lorcanus Ryn wanted his last testament heard. After a bit of fiddling, a hologram
bloomed into view, projected from the ancient device in the centre of the bridge. I marvelled at the
quality: it was as close to life as to be nigh-heretical.

13
Ryn‟s tale held us spellbound, and brought fresh hope and fresh terror. The treasure of the world he
plundered was ash compared to one item he now held in the main cargo hold. An ancient pre-Imperial
device ripped from the dying heart of plundered Krystallin, worth more than money was made to
measure: a nearly intact Standard Template Constructor. The ancient device on the bridge, the record
revealed in hurried tones, was the interface. He had it installed and was preparing to return triumphant to
the Imperium when disaster struck.

Warp entities flooded the ship, somehow drawn to the STC data. Ryn speculated it was because some of
the information it contained would aid in the construction of daemon-bane devices and warp-expellers. In
the midst of the conflict, the STC itself seemed to seized control of servitors and machine-spirits
shipwide, and created a bubble of void-shields around itself and its power source.

As the record proceeded, shots could be heard, and screams, which grew louder as the image of Captain
Ryn hurried to finish his tale. The ship‟s servitors now served the STC, and were helping to defend the
crew, but their strength was failing. The record ended with the captain dying at the hands of a servitor:
perhaps a mercy killing? The screaming and hideous warp-drawn yowling continued for many minutes
after the captain‟s collapse.

I do not know how a man with no mouth can grin, but Magos Robertson grinned now. A light the likes of
which I had not afore seen grew in his eyes, and his movements were hurried and purposeful. When the
recording ended, the vox-interference ended with it, and I hailed His Invincible Will immediately. Magos
Robertson transmitted via esoteric modem-song his recording and observations, while I ordered the ship‟s
acting captain to hail the Inquisitor‟s ship on all frequencies. I told the Inquisitor (or at least, I hoped I
told him), that daemons and foul things were present aboard this ship, and that his assistance would be
invaluable.

As we went about our business, the ancient STC interface seemed to shake itself to wakefulness. It
projected a map of the ship, and gave coordinates and directions to a hallway on the edge of the void-
shield bubble. As we recorded them (and transmitted them to the Inquisitor, requesting he meet us there),
the servo-skull‟s auspex went mad. Half-heard sounds came from behind bulkeads and pipes, and we each
recognized at the same time that the warp-spawned demons were closing in.

God-Emperor, how we ran. Doors opened before us, courtesy (we presumed) of the STC. More mist
assailed us: we pushed through it. Whispers assaulted our minds: we chanted the Litanies „till I thought
our lungs would burst. By the Primarchs and Saints, we ran like the wind and sun. Behind us, we could
hear scuttling and rasping and fleshy noises indescribable, while before us, servitors armed with strange
beam weapons fired past us. At one point, one of the servitors appeared to be possessed and turned on his
fellows: the Magos blew its frame to pieces. I do not lie: I outpaced the blood and ichor spatters and was
unsullied by the bolt-shells‟ detonations.

At a great speed we saw a flickering energy shield at the end of the corridor. Putting my faith in the
Emperor, I did not slow one step, and ran through just as the field went down. When it reactivated, we
were inside, but several half-formed horrors of the warp had pursued us. The flowed like liquid smoke
from our weapons, so on we ran.

Past another energy field and into the farthest corner of the cargo hold we ran. Past piles of gold, priceless
works of art, gleaming weapons and massive jewels we ran like the horrors of hell were after us. Which,
of course, they were.

I finally stopped at the base of a great and ancient cogitator. In form, it was like a hive city in miniature,
with blinking lights and signals and spires of light. This, I knew was the STC device itself, a prize beyond
all reckoning. I shouted for the Magos to disconnect the cables: we would teleport it out.

14
It told us not to. With an artificial voice of great sadness, the STC unit spoke to us. It was partially
corrupt, for the warp is subtle and ever patient. Most of its data had been lost long ago. But it had
persevered, slumbering and waiting for humanity to rediscover it. Slowly, it had become aware, organized
its defences, sent out patrols, and waited. Emperor‟s blood, the machine even apologized for shooting at
us, a fault in its over-zealous defensive protocols.

When pressed, it revealed that the mist was an anti-demonic weapon. By its eldritch action it slowed the
movement of the soul, and while it only slowed humans it could hold the warp at bay for many years. The
power drain was immense, and it was too difficult for the aging system to maintain the mist for more than
a few minutes.

The beam weapons were also STC weapons, focused energy weapons which, while incapable of
penetrating armour, could tear unprotected flesh (demonflesh included) to pieces. In addition, the energy
fields protecting the hold were more STC technology, an advanced and modular void-shield projection.

Magos Robertson wept oily tears, and his servo-skull began to play the Dirge of Mourning. Beyond the
protective shields, hundreds of horrific... things were massing. I started to fear for my life.

But the STC cogitator revealed that it had spent the last four centuries preparing for this day. A servitor
brought out a stasis canister containing three crainio-modified brains: storage devices for the last three
intact STC templates. The Magos accepted the canister sombrely, stowing it securely on his back. The
ancient device revealed one last secret: a Teleportatium it had constructed over the centuries, designed to
transport the treasure and its re-discoverers to their ship. It asked just one favour: that we destroy it once
we were clear of the ship.

Perhaps it is a heresy to feel pity for a half-possessed archeotech construct, but I did weep then. The
machine was designed from its first moment to serve mankind, and now even in its last it served. Perhaps
it‟s not the best example, but there are few who can say that their record of service was as faithful as that
strange device‟s. As the innermost field failed and the horrors of the warp slithered towards us, I felt the
familiar chill of teleportation.

We reappeared in the main cargo hold, which was thankfully vacant at the time. I was instantly on the
vox, and ordered sustained bombardment of the STC‟s coordinates. Magos Robertson attempted to locate
the Inquisitor before the lances fired, but could find no trace of him or his ship. Whatever his mysterious
actions during our adventures, we could find no trace of him now.

I ordered the four armsmen confined to quarters (with triple pay). I may yet have to have them purged:
they know too much about the STC data. It might be a mercy, considering all they‟ve seen.

The cargo hold is under triple-guard, while the Magos personally guards the STC information in the
hexagramatic -warded Astropathic relay, guarded by fifty armsmen, twenty heavy weapon servitors, and a
dozen priests.

The scribes are counting the treasure, but we are making best speed for the Lathes, for the Mechanicum of
Mars will be moved to emotion by our discoveries. Provided we don‟t tell them the STC was sentient, or
that we destroyed it, even the lowliest bilge-rat will be made a prince of men.

The Astropaths are on duty at all hours, monitoring for warp incursion. I‟ve ordered double-monitoring of
the Gellar field, and the Bishops once again roam the ship blessing the faithful.

God-Emperor, protect us on our journey. Give us the strength to see the three words of the Lathe system.
Give us the fortitude to survive what the warp may throw at us. We can do a great good this day, if we
survive. If...

15
Chapter the Third
I‟ll start with that damned Tech-priest. Oooh, how I hate him. He drives me to drink sometimes, he really
does!

Perhaps I should explain. We were two days out of the Magoros system, en route to Footfall, when I
received reports that some children belonging to the gunnery crew and lower ranks had gone missing. I
believe eighty-seven, all between the ages of five and ten. As I had little better to do, I organized a variety
of search-and-rescue parties, talked to the C&C men, and felt confident that the mystery would soon be
uncovered.

I reasoned that disappearances of children were often linked to fell activities of Unspeakable cults, and
that such a cult, stimulated by the recent warp-contamination of the Righteous Path, were gaining power
aboard my ship. My ship, I remind you all! Oh, how I raged when the Arbites brought me no leads.
Witnesses to the abduction would flee and never be seen again, and the only security monitor images that
were distinguishable were coat-tails and sleeves: red in color.

My mind inflamed with the thoughts of Blood Cults and dark sacrifice, I personally sought witnesses to
these abductions. A fearful man seeks security, I deduced, so I would find an out-of-the-way armoury and
seek my quarry there. All I found in such a derelict place was a long-dead scribe. I made a note to send a
replacement, and left for fresher tracks. As I left, my keen eyes spotted a man fleeing down the corridor.
A man who flees is a man who has something to hide, so I gave chase. My stern entreaties did little to
slow his pace, but when that accursed Magos voxed his name to me, a firm order to halt did cause him to
stumble.

I fair pounced upon him, and called my shadowing Arbites forward. Once manacled, the man seemed to
re-enter a calm state of mind. He was, I determined, a security-officer. His flight was caused by a fear of,
and I quote from memory here, “men in red with big bags”. He had little else to offer me, but I kept him
manacled and close at hand.

Evidence was assembled: my psykers could not detect the children‟s minds in the Enginarium, the area
where I suspected they were being taken. I petitioned the Administratum to search for missing red cloth,
but none could be found. I even had the Magos rig up hidden security cameras, but even they could not
detect the passage of the “men in red”. How it vexed me, but until the last I did not suspect the terrible
truth.

In desperation, I gave each one of the surviving children a gold coin taken from the Righteous Path. Some
of the coins, such as these, bore still the taint of the warp. Though a minor risk, it would allow us to track
them by psychic augury. Five days into the journey, the last of the children disappeared. Most
suspiciously, none of the children of enlisted officers or high-ranked personnel were taken, though all
were quite terrified of the possibility.

With all five of my astropaths searching, we located the tainted gold. In a secluded and disfavoured part
of the Enginarium, we found a clean room, used, it would appear, for surgery. I went in first, and I believe
I was the only one to see the racks of child-size agumentics, and to hear the horrible rustling noises from
behind the curtains. I called the Magos to my side, and dismissed the astropaths. I then drew my laspistol
and shot Magos Robertson square in the chest.

Of course, it barely scratched the paint of his damned armour. He still won‟t admit that he was wrong: to
him, 100 or so useless people aboard the ship have become infinitely more useful battle-servitors. He and
his co-conspirators had been practicing and perfecting their art for the past week.

16
Well, word of this couldn‟t leak out. It would undermine my authority as captain and Trader, and could
bring the ship to civil war. No, I had to act as I did. The Astropaths knew nothing, but an explanation was
still needed. I ordered four of the lowest-ranked families whose children had gone missing arrested, and
proclaimed ring-leaders in a macabre cult of murder. All “evidence” was seized, and the families locked
in the brig, awaiting execution. I‟ve also changed security protocols to limit the Mago‟s freedom aboard
my ship, and especially limited his access to the crew.

Lest it be said that I am a merciless man, I did not actually have the families executed. While we put in at
Footfall, about other business which I shall get to momentarily, I had the families given a sum of money
to start a new life, and then secretly banished from the ship.

What brought us to Footfall was a most strange incident. While looting the damaged pirate vessel some
weeks earlier, I had taken aboard a suit of ancient plate armour. I thought little of it until I discovered that
it had moved during the night of its own accord. Fearing more daemonic influence, I had an Astropath
examine it, but she found no corruption. I will make a note to have her examined: for the suit was
certainly not benign.

Reasoning that, if it were a warp artefact, the surest method of activation would be to wear it, I located a
suitable crewman to attempt the test. By sheer luck, we had aboard one of the pirates we had captured.
Apparently, he was miscounted and remained unsold, caught in a web of accounting and misfiled records.
I had little patience for his story, and gave him a simple offer; put on the suit and he would be pardoned
fully.

Not being a complete fool, I had him don the armour in a secure airlock, which I was prepared to vent to
the void at the first sign of trouble. I very nearly did, as the moment the scum placed the ancient helmet
on his head, a sword materialized in the deck-plating. Eyes which burned like phosphor erupted from the
helm, and the cracks in the armour smoked fearfully. I was on the verge of pressing the activation rune
when the plate-armor spoke.

It introduced itself as one Gonin MkGigy, a regrettable deceased Free Trader captain. For most of his life,
he had carried prisoners to Kommitzar, the notorious prison world. His ship was attacked by the self-same
pirates we had encountered, and became their flagship. His hatred of piracy and his own failure bound
him to the material plane, thirsting for vengeance.

Quite frankly, I am becoming tired of sob stories. But in this MkGigy, I saw the seeds of another blow
against piracy in the sector. I had him return to a dormant state and prepared to stop at Footfall. The pirate
inside was quite dead, used as a sort of fuel to power the fearful armour. We spent less than two hours in
system. Magos Robertson dropped the families off planetside, while I went to make peace with the
pirates. I brought a gift: warp-tainted gold coins, and a treasure to sell them: an ancient suit of armour.

Peace made and deeds accomplished, we made good speed for the Maw. I had told the armour to wait
thirty-six hours before waking and wreaking his vengeance. I hope he did; we didn‟t stop to watch. As we
transited the Maw, my Navigator reported that the ghost ship of Hadark Fel was shadowing us, remaining
far aft. I was glad of it: though I had my sword blessed by the Archbishop I did not want to fight an army
of spirits in a ghostly cruiser. Auspex also detected the ship, which was becoming more... solid.

Thankfully, it turned back at the edge of the warp-storms. I am glad of it, but it still worries me. We will
have cause to pass through the Maw again. We realigned for the rest of the journey to Port Wander at the
site of our battle with the pirates. As we arrived, another ship left: a fat and ponderous transport. We
discovered their errand minutes later: they had stripped the wrecked pirate ship bare, ignoring our rightful
beacon of salvage! Oh, my blood boils at the thought of it!

17
The grav-plating and drives remained operative, and we were able to attach it below His Invincible Will‟s
forward span. Though it is ignoble for a warship to serve as a tug, we towed that ship into Port Wander. I
promoted Dray to captain, gave him writ and coins for his berth, and promised swift return with
components and workers. He seemed quite pleased with his sudden rise in status: I hope he doesn‟t let it
get to his head.

We also negotiated with the tech-priests of Port Wander, and were able to secure a charter of passage to
the inner Lathe system. It was simpler than I anticipated, as they were entranced by the mention of STC
data and the fragments that Magos Robertson showed them. Speaking of the Magos, I had him transfer
the blueprints for the devices to the ship‟s cogitator banks. Though the theory behind them will be far
beyond us, we should be able to manufacture such devices given time and exotic resources.

Without further incident, we made good speed for the Lathe system. Our approach was made under the
guns of great battleships. Apparently, some heretics had attempted to steal an ancient viral weapon and
launch it at the Grand Panopticon, the orbital were the senior tech-priests dwell. Their plot did not get far,
but security was heightened. I was glad for it, but ordered the ten remaining virus-grenades hidden, just in
case.

The helmsman detected a familiar ghost-reading on the auspex: Inquisitor Torqk had followed us to the
Lathes, slipping under the sensors of the combined fleet. I had the Magos prepare a “bay accident”, and
opened one of the empty lighter holds to the void. The Inquisitor‟s gun-cutter, fearsomely armed, docked,
and I welcomed him aboard again. This time, his invisible assassin was visible; a striking woman with
two even more striking swords.

We exchanged pleasantries and conversation as I tried to determine (politely) why in the God-Emperor‟s
name he insisted on following us across sector and storm. All I was able to determine was that he was
“observing” us, testing the skills of my ship to see if we were worthy to assist him. As to what matter of
assistance, he would only say that it involved a “mutual friend”.

I let him remain aboard: he did little harm and perhaps even some good. Upon hearing of my narrow
escape from the demonic entities aboard the Righteous Path, he was persuaded to engrave hexagramatic
wards on my carapace armour and helmet in fine silver tracery. I hope they will serve me well, but I also
hope they will never have cause to be tested.

As we approached the Panopticon, I asked for an audience with Fabricator Ascendant Ixainov the Elder,
leader of the Mechanicus of the sector and absolute ruler of the Lathes. My request was denied, but I did
arrange a meeting with several high-ranking adepts. Magos Robertson showed them some template
fragments, and the ghoulish brains-in-a-tube, and they were most impressed. We were brought before the
Fabricator, who expressed his deep and profound gratitude. The old clanker even sounded emotional, but
it was hard to tell, for he was encased in a cogitator-tank and concealed from our eyes. We gave them the
data, and received much praise and adulation. I was able to convince the tech-priests to install an
improved life-sustainer aboard His Invincible Will, which finally brought fresh air to the holds and bilges.
They also performed full maintenance, repainted the hull, recalibrated the auger arrays, and installed
some cryo-storage tanks for Magos Robertson‟s hundred murderous servitor-children.

Oh, I left off telling their story in the middle of it. Apologies. Magos Robertson, properly chastised,
placed half of them in a disused hold, and sequestered the rest near the Teleportarium. I, meanwhile, went
and found a bolt pistol for myself. I intend to shoot him more thoroughly next time.

I believe the damned Magos went off while we were in drydock and got both his arms replaced. Seems a
sensible thing for him to do, I suppose. He also received a marvellous suit of power armour from the
Mechanicus as a gift. He still insists on showing it off while I‟m in his presence. Perhaps a bolt pistol will
not be enough: I may need to get a plasma cannon from the hold.

18
The Fabricator personally gave me a cunning gorget that projects a refractor field, and an enormous crate
of power cells for it. I had time to inspect it thoroughly as we waited in dry-dock for a week. During that
week, a convoy of three cargo barges, three frigates, and a light cruiser dropped into system and made
their way to Het, while we sat docked further out. I recognized their insignia: the hated von Caius clan.

All that stood between me and my uncle‟s poisoner, my family‟s murderer, and my sworn enemy was a
Mechanicus force, thousands of torpedo tubes, and three frigates. My revenge would have to wait. Do not
think I sat idly by though. With an astropath and pilot in a lighter, I endeavoured to find why he was in
system, and how best to destroy him. Of course, we told the Mechanicus we were going "shopping". In
the end, we did end up buying several hundred crates of hyperdensity ammo, so we weren't technically
lying.

His transports had come in empty, but were being filled with powerpacks, lasguns, and weapons of war. It
would appear a great battle was in this man‟s future, whether he could predict it or not. It appeared that he
was arming a mercenary company, or making himself a private army of some sort, as his cargo was not
destined for a war zone, but, as the Magos discovered by inspecting the tech-logs, the Maw.

I could not risk him escaping me forever. We had obtained ten tracking devices from the wreck of the
pirate ship. Each unit resembled a naval anti-fighter torpedo, and could be concealed fairly easily on the
exterior of a ship. The trouble would be getting the damn device over to the cruiser. The Inquisitor
volunteered his services, and once again departed in his black and invisible craft, leaving system after
attaching the device.

Owing to an abundance of caution, I also wished to place a tracking device in the hold of one of the cargo
ships. It was a simple matter for Magos Robertson to alter the ship‟s manifest, but how to disguise the
device? In the end, he disabled all external indicators, and simply turned it on, labelling it as “Tracking
Device, 1”. It now sits, hidden in plain sight, in the holds of one of the cargo vessels. The Inquisitor did
chuckle so when we told him of our plan. I‟m beginning to like that man, despite his odd fixation and
dubious intent.

In his semi-illegal tampering, the Magos determined that two survivors from the virus-weapon hijacking
were in custody in the depths of the Panopticon. The security around them was too tight to infiltrate
easily, and risking the wrath of the Mechanicus when we were docked would be a foolish move indeed.
So, we didn‟t sneak.

Now, the Magos had already determined that these men were mercenaries, out of Scintilla, hired by an
unknown hand. Despite the best pressure the Mechanicus could apply, the two sellswords refused to
crack. I petitioned their jailor to allow me to enact a cunning plan I had devised, one which would reveal
these men‟s employer.

My plan, which I summarily carried out, was to put on a bodyglove, disguise myself as a mercenary, and
pretend to break the men out. Of course, I would require proof that they were useful to the company and
not some vile cultists. I “snuck in” while the Skitarii “changed guard” and got all I needed to know from
the two mercenaries. They were almost relieved to finally spill the beans. Their faces when we came
around the corner to a squad of Skitarii legionnaires were beautiful.

They were part of a crew hired by the von Caius to cause a distraction, and focus attention elsewhere. The
empty transports we had scanned were, in fact, smuggling proscribed xeno artefacts and Emperor knows
what else into the inner system. They didn‟t know the recipients, but were sure the von Caius were behind
it. The tech-priests promised to investigate the matter. I would be free to deal with von Caius, while they
would see to his buyers. With no firm evidence, they couldn‟t move against him as he sat in port, filling
his holds with weapons and armour.

19
We decided to wait and pursue von Caius at our leisure. Two weeks later, the cargo vessels and frigates
broke system for the Maw, while the von Caius and his light cruiser headed for Scintilla. I decided to
pursue the cruiser. If it came down to outright war, our ship had him outgunned, and the name of Olivares
still has some power on that world. I hope it doesn‟t come to outright war, though. I sent an astropathic
call to Dray, warning him of the fleet‟s approach. Apparently, the tech-priest have already started refitting
his ship. How polite of them. I hope they realize that it‟s a gift to us from the Fabricator: he really did like
those blueprints.

Scintilla: home of a thousand cults and a thousand fortunes. My home, long ago. Even from high orbit, it
brought back memories. Not good memories: I never liked the place much, truth be told.

We had planned our strategy on the trip, and the preparation began as soon as we arrived. Through a
series of intermediates and back-room deals, I brokered a lease on an abandoned mining outpost on
Sothus, one of the moons. We also spread discreet rumours of an anonymous seller auctioning off xenos
artefacts at the location in two week‟s time. Von Caius, I suspected, could not resist.

Of course, we didn‟t have many artefacts to sell. The holds were full of strange pre-imperial artwork and
jewels, which we would pass off as xenotech to the unsavy. For all we cared to find out, some of it
actually was. I had the Magos fabricate fake appraisal certificates and assayers‟ slips: during the auction
he would act as a “neutral” party.

The mining outpost was not large, and we refitted it most carefully. Under the main landing pad I had
several explosive charges placed, just in case. Fifty armsmen waited in two shielded holds in the base,
weapons at ready. I am currently waiting for the last of the bidders to arrive, as I sit in the security fortress
reviewing the vox-traffic and optical lines.

Von Caius will not surive his terminal greed and misjudgement, I am sure. As soon as he arrives, the rest
of the plan will fall into place.

What‟s that? He‟s coming in with a cargo lander? 100 armsmen and heavy weapon teams? He‟s parked
his cruiser on the other side of the moon?

Tricky...

20
Chapter the Fourth
Hmm, where was I? Oh yes, the cargo lander was approaching, full of soldiers and heavy weapons and
dangerous things. I was in my command suite below the auction proper, interpreting the vox-signals. The
Magos was in the auction room, looking for trouble. My armsmen were hidden and wary, positioned
throughout the complex in shielded and hidden rooms.

The von Caius lander came to rest at the lip of the crater which enclosed the mining base. From its hold,
fifty men in void suits and low-g vehicles spilled out. I was almost ready to order an evacuation when
four of the vehicles stopped slightly down the crater‟s slope. The fifth continued towards the base: I
detected six people inside. The other four vehicles parked and heavy weapons teams deployed. Evidently,
von Caius did not wish to follow the ban on ranged weapons in spirit.

I received a vox-transmission from the approaching vehicle. I believe it went something like,

“My good Stephano, glad to see you survived and reconsidered our offer. The Council will be most
pleased. My father wishes you well, and I am to meet with you to discuss further endeavours.”

I recognized the voice from long hours of study. Our trap had not ensnared Maximilian von Caius, the
family‟s notorious patriarch, but his youngest son, Quentin. Oh, how I seethed with ill-concealed rage.
All this effort for a mere ninth son? It beggars belief!

The vehicle approached, docked, and six men entered the complex. I had placed four of my bodyguards,
in motley dress, to guard the main airlock and to scan all guests. In accordance with the rules of the
auction, all projectile and ranged weapons were to be left in metal boxes at the entrance, to be retrieved
upon departure. Of course, no sensible people go unarmed, so swords, clubs, and knives were expected to
grace the belts of every bidder.

I hadn‟t counted on powerspears. Too late I remembered: the von Caius family‟s personal guard were
called “The Legion”, and carried spears and shields. Of course, I instructed the guards to let the five
bodyguards keep their spears. Their shields, however, were to remain behind. Quentin himself was armed
with a fine powersword, and dressed in carapace which paled in comparison to mine.

Of course, I rose from my work to greet him as he entered. A plan long hours in the making had been
undone, but a new and more glorious plan was arising. I greeted him warmly, expressing my sorrow that
my good great-uncle Stepahano was unable to meet him personally, being sick abed with poisoning.

I suggested that we conduct our meeting in private, and lead him and his guards from the airlock, past the
auction (whose profit was considerable), and to a room prepared. There, six ancient pillars surrounded a
folding table, on which I had placed a strange device.

The device, I explained to the fool, was a Prognosticator, a fortune-teller, and a gift to the von Caius. By
scanning the palm of any human hand, it would predict the owner‟s future. Showing the cowardice which
coats his family as grease coats a Fenksworld Sumpsnail, he ordered one of his guards to try it first. The
man, thick brow creased with the action of disused thought, stared into the two scopes and inserted his
hand. Images flashed before him: Sibelius burning, a world of ice, three knives, a man‟s face...

Of course, the device was a fake. The Magos had forged it but two days ago. A simple pict-display device
activated by inserting a hand, it would play random and ominous images until the hand was removed. Of
course, the gormless guard fell for it utterly. Quentin walked over, examined the device, and then picked
it up and shook it.

21
By the Emperor‟s body, the man was impertinent. Satisfied that the device was not, in fact, a rattle, he
placed it back on the table. He turned, fingers on the hilt of his sword, and said, “Trinkets aside, I‟m not
surprised to see your family crawling back to us. After all, if Stephano hadn‟t refused our initial offer he
wouldn‟t be as sick as...”

At this, I enacted my plan. With a casual brush of my hand, I activated the refractor field gifted by the
Fabricator of the Lathe Forgeworlds, and pressed a small button on a signaller on my belt. The two
fragmentation grenades concealed in the false Prognosticator detonated. Quentin von Caius and one of his
guards were blasted with flame and shrapnel, while I was thrown back, landing on my feet, and entirely
unscathed by the explosion.

As the sluggards reeled back, I drew my newly acquired bolt pistol and fired two shots at the target of my
schemes. His staggering caused the shells to pass over his shoulder, and he seemed to regain some of his
senses. Cursing like a low-born, the least son of the von Caius charged me, sword drawn. Two of his
bodyguards moved to attack as well. Though I most skilfully snapped the energized blade off one of the
spears, the other stabbed me in the side. So pinned, I was nearly helpless as von Caius‟ blade sliced skin
and meat from my arm. As the fools closed in, I prepared to go down fighting.

But the Tech-priest, demonstrating that perhaps my well-being was somewhat important to him, burst into
the room. Without pausing, he decapitated one of the guards with a well-timed swing of his axe. The
man‟s head, still mouthing words, flew across the room. How the faces of the other men fell.

Distracted, the guards turned from me to the Magos. The mechanical man planted his axe in the deck-
plating (denting it severely), and then opened fire with his bolter. With a feeling approaching religious
awe, I watched the shells shred Quentin von Caius. One of the men attacking me fainted dead away at the
horrific sight: another proof that his bodyguards were of poor quality. Another guard ran out into the
corridor, and got off a brief vox-message before being evaporated by twenty-odd shotgun blasts: my
armsmen were out in force.

Again showing a plentiful lack of wit, the closer of the two surviving armsmen charged Magos. His spear
stuck in the iron arm of the Tech-priest, who then chopped of the fool‟s leg. As the man screamed on the
ground, my good Magos removed the spear: it had caused no damage whatsoever. We bound the two
survivors, knocked both unconscious, and were just turning to leave when a titanic blast shook the
structure.

The coward‟s dying vox-message had apparently been enough to cause the heavy weapons of the lander
to start shelling the complex. The auction interrupted, the guests were milling about in confusion and
panic was beginning to set in. Several holes had been punched in the walls, and atmosphere was escaping
rapidly. It was clear that we were all doomed.

It is interesting to note that nine out of ten Rogue Trader auctions end up this way. Why, I once
accompanied my great-uncle Stephano to an auction held by the infamous Calligos Winterscale. Over a
thousand guests, items of sublime rarity and workmanship, and the finest drinks and victuals to be found
anywhere this side of Holy Terra. Within two hours, fifteen brawls had broken out, ten starships had
changed hands, an ogryn had gotten into the amnesac and thrown Lady Jingerin out of a window, two
orbital strikes had been called in (and promptly cancelled), and Inquisitor Falos Fruun had been caught in
bed with, so the story goes, an Eldar Corsair, and had roamed the halls burning anyone who so much as
giggled.

I... have lost my place. Oh yes, it was clear we were all doomed. The airlock to the landing pad was the
first location hit, and traversing the wreckage, even in a void-suit, would be impossible without being
spotted and fired upon. However, my foresight had once again saved us all. Hidden under the base was
one of my nondescript cargo-landers, which could carry everyone to safety. I ordered most of my
armsmen to make her ready for departure, and then saw to my guests.

22
Let the man who says I am a common thief be burned and disemboweled, for I am not. Every guest was
loaded aboard the lander unmolested, save that their weapons had to remain behind. Unfortunately, their
path took them past the departed von Caius party, which was not pleasant to look upon. I was the last man
off the station, and so was entitled to discreetly salvage any abandoned items, including the carelessly
discarded weapons.

In any case, everyone made it aboard the lander. I ordered the pilot to power up the engines, and then
detonated the landing bay just before launching from the opposite end of the station. The expanding cloud
of dust concealed our departure quite sufficiently. With nary a hint of pursuit, we slipped into orbital
traffic and fled. I later learned that the von Caius‟ light cruiser had scrambled fighters, but they were too
slow. At a circumspect orbital dock, I let my guest depart. Most were quite happy to be gone. I‟ve
attached a guest dossier at the end of this record, for future reference. We then flew back to His Invincible
Will, docked, and prepared for launch.

Imitating my uncle‟s voice (not a difficult trick), I sent a vox-missive to the Rosencrantz, von Caius‟ ship
which we had pursued from the Lathes, and, in calm voice, listed all the damages and corresponding
throne gelt amounts his son and armsmen had caused. I believe I even billed him for the ammunition
expended. Of course, he was screaming half-articulate curses at me with such vehemence I doubt he heard
a single word. I must remember to send him a list in writing.

Soon after, the light cruiser departed and we followed. With the aid of the tracking beacon, we predicted
their course was for Port Wander, and sped onwards. In fact, thorough the great skill of my navigator we
reached Port Wander in merely a week, and spent the next three weeks waiting for von Caius to show up.

Oh yes, I should also mention that we kept Quentin‟s head. No mere trophy was this, for, through great
expenditure of effort and time, my psykers managed to pull several still pictures from his deceased lobes,
all concerning the mysterious “Council”. The first was of Quentin and Maximilian meeting a senior
Administratum official at a party, the second was of a man none of us recognized, and the third was of a
flotilla of ships in high orbit above a world unknown.

Reasoning nothing further questions could be asked of dead men, I had a gene-sample taken for future
reference, and the skull flensed. Magos Robertson took a cast of Quentin‟s dead face, and fashioned a
bronze mask, and then spent a few days turning the skull into a true servo-skull. The mask was a nice
touch, I agree.

After some investigation, I discovered that the three transports and three frigates we had seen had passed
through some time ago, one transport remaining behind. Without risk of censure, we could not attack a
ship in port, nor did covert operations appeal at this juncture. We waited for von Caius to come to us.
After three weeks, he did, but far out in the system. His transport ship went to meet him, a further one-
week delay. Again, we picked up sensor ghosts, the telltale signature of Inquisitor Torqk. After von Caius
and his transport ship departed, we powered out of system, stopping only briefly to open the forward
cargo hold and, once again, welcome the Inquisitor aboard.

This time, he wasn‟t accompanied by his assassin. I suspect she‟s causing circumspect trouble aboard the
Rosencrantz. We discussed the Council, and, of course, he knew more than I did. Apparently, the Council
was a secretive, though not necessarily heretical, organization of Rogue Traders, Navy officers,
Administration officials. Their motives were uncertain, and methods doubly so. As we were both going in
the same direction, I was happy to carry the Inquisitor with me.

As we raced into the Maw, I was troubled by visions of my departed great-uncle. He appeared several
times to me, though invisible to the other crew, mouthing silent words. It is a troubling omen; an indicator
of troubling times ahead.

23
Chapter the Fifth
My quest of bloody revenge has finally reached its logical and righteous conclusion. Oh, how I laughed as
Maximillian burned... But, it behoves me to provide a bit more information before the aforementioned
conclusion occurs.

Let‟s see... Ah, I knew I had it around here somewhere. My last record ended just after we departed for
the Hermitage. Well, that seems as good a place as any to start. We made good time through the passage
and arrived in but four days. Just before we dropped out of warp, my Navigator spotted dozens of warp-
trails and collision beacons. We exited as close as we dared to the Hermitage, and I was not surprised
when our ship was painted with active sensors. We had dropped into the middle of a meeting of sorts:
several frigates and cargo ships stood at anchor, while two light cruisers and a full cruiser waited in the
shadow of the nearby moon‟s gravity well. In summary: it was a trap; we were outgunned.

In my wisdom, I had prepared for this eventuality. I transmitted a message indicating that I, Laertes
Geneso Olivares, had taken over the dynasty after my execution of Stephano Olivares. I even had his
body taken out from stasis and shot. I informed the many warships that, though my uncle was resistant to
their offer, I was more than eager to join the so called “Council”.

We detected hurried communication between the larger ships. For the time being, at least, they bought my
story: we were escorted to just outside weapons range of the orbital and ordered to drop shields. Of
course, I refused, and remained firm and immobile until they agreed that I could keep them fully powered.
Satisfied, I boarded an Aquila lander and departed for the station.

According to the rules I had been transmitted, I was allowed to bring one bodyguard and a pilot. The pilot
would remain with the lander, of course. Magos Robertson insisted on acting as my bodyguard, and I
agreed, mostly to keep an eye on him. A repeat of the "Efficiency Incident" would be quite inconvenient

Docking was a delightful affair. We were met by several other landers, all of the same make and model,
and we landed on the same pad. A shield of sorts held atmosphere inside, but I kept my void-suit on. I can
never tell if the Tech-Priest is wearing his: he‟s 90% tubes anyways. I dare say he doesn't breathe air
anymore.

I should introduce the other guests, I suppose, though they were quite dull. The most noticeable was a
rather unpleasantly boisterous gentleman known to his friends as the Duke of Blood. His cruiser,
unimaginatively named Duke of Blood, was the one we had detected on our approach. He was wearing
cheap power armour, and was accompanied by another one of his blood-cult assassins.

Oh, didn‟t I mention that? It seems most of his crew formed some sort of ritualistic cult, ostensibly of
Emperor-worship, with the Duke himself as high priest or something. I suspect he‟s really running some
sort of Chaos-suckling den of horrors, but I had no proof. Half of the Ecclesiarchy wants him burnt at the
stake for heresy, and the other half wants him canonized for his faith.

The next man I knew, at least in passing. I think I had met him at one of Winterscale‟s parties. Rogue
Trader Bandershard Flood, or was it Fandershard Blood? Something like that, anyways. A nice
gentleman, I think... He had some sort of skull tattoo on his arm, but his bodyguard had a really big skull
tattoo. I cleverly deduced that he was a guard veteran, and voxed the ship to do a database search.

The third man was a blubbering lump of gelatin and fat that would put even the magnificent void-whales
of Tunksangana Minor to shame. He could hardly reach his belt to draw his weapons, and, if it weren‟t for
his weapon-servitor which carried a multi-melta, I would have ignored him entirely. I think his name was
Lord Otto of Pranch, though I really can‟t say I cared. The Tech-Priest records all this stuff anyways.

24
We retired for polite discussion to an adjoining room, and spent a few minutes in somewhat awkward
conversation before we were joined by a new guest: Neville von Caius, sixth son of Maximillian. He was
not pleased to see me, but I flashed him a winning smile to conceal my utter contempt and frustration.

I had received a vox-transmission that the Rozencrantz had entered system a moment after I heard his
shuttle dock. I must make a note to have someone flogged for the delay: I could have been killed, or
worse, made a social blunder!

In any case, I met him with all the gentility I could muster and told him my fabricated story. He seemed to
buy it, and didn‟t shoot me, so I reasoned that he would at least remain civil for the duration of the
meeting. Sadly, it was not to be: the ill-bred von Caius lineage is prone to both cowardice and terminal
stupidity.

But again, I am getting ahead of myself. We five Rogue Traders stood in a loose circle; Lord Otto of
Paunch acting as a nervous master of ceremonies. The first item on the agenda was the induction of a new
member to the Council: me. By the arcane (and damnably democratic) rules, the majority of the other
members had to agree. Bandershand Flood nominated and voted for me: perhaps he was a friend of the
dynasty. Lord Otto also voted for me: Magos Robertson had spent his time flattering the servitor. The
Duke of Blood was apparently uninterested in the minutiae of diplomacy, and voted for me as well. Von
Caius, of course, did not.

But it hardly mattered: I was proclaimed a member of the Council, and regular business began. Most of
the talk centered around price fixing; something my family has never engaged in. We are not some
merchant clan of petty freighter captains! The jargon and banter was beyond me, but I did express interest
where it was polite to do so. The Magos was helpful in doing advanced and rapid calculation, but the
meeting still seemed... prosaic. Until, that is, Neville von Caius shouted down everyone and proclaimed
that the second order of business was now under discussion. Namely, me, again.

Flattered as I was, my initial hopes were tarnished when the swine brought out a dataslate, and showed a
vid-capture of my fight with Quentin von Caius. Apparently, the lone escapee had sent a burst
transmission from his helmet-cam before my armsmen had pulped him. Oh, how I seethed! That damn
Tech-Priest hadn‟t told me that they had helmet-cams!

But I remained calm. I explained that I had been acting under orders from the “late” Stephano Olivares to
execute his younger brother, and that I had no say in the matter. I offered my condolences. He challenged
me to a duel.

It is a perfect example of the narrow-minded idiocy of the entire von Caius clan that he charged me with a
knife. Not even a mono-edged power knife, a simple metal blade! The damn fool would have lost an arm
had he not been smashed into the opposite wall.

I felt the nearly familiar taste of psyker witchery. Dandershand (or whatever his name was)‟s bodyguard
was apparently a telekinetic: von Caius had been on the receiving end. I couldn‟t tell if he was sanctioned
or not, but he did have a strange tattoo which glowed briefly. It was quite unnerving, really.

The impact had broken both of von Caius‟ legs and shattered a few ribs. I bade the Magos tend to his
wounds, but the titanic bucket of bolts tripped on a rivet and smashed his arm through the prostrate man‟s
chest. It was a rather messy end to the meeting. I‟m sure he did it on purpose.

Von Caius‟ bodyguard charged the psyker, who turned his spear into a corkscrew and tossed it aside. I
stepped between them and, with most gracious phrasework, negotiated a cessation of futile hostilities. I
even offered to duel the hapless Legionnaire should he wish to avenge his squashed master. Full of hot
blood and petty thoughts, he accepted. The fact that Maximillian von Caius could be heard screaming out
of his helmet‟s vox set hardly helped.

25
We retired to the shuttle bay for the duel. It was gratifyingly brief; a few passes to tire him out and a
sudden downstroke to shave muscle and skin off his arm. I suspect the Magos may have been using his
iron-manipulation powers to swing my opponent‟s sword around, though, of course, I had no proof. He
fell, and pledged his service to me. Apparently he would be executed if he returned to the Rozencrantz. I
had him put in irons and tossed in the brig with his two other comrades.

I believe the Magos carried the shrouded body of Neville to his shuttle, and though I suspect that he first
removed the head. Maximillain has four living sons, I think: will the Magos be making servo-skulls of
them all?

In any case, we returned to our ships without incident. Apparently, the other members of the Council
convinced Maximillain not to fire on me, and we departed for our separate ports. We followed the
Rozencrantz to Footfall, once again, through the skill of my Navigator, arriving before her. With the
Envenomed Blade in close formation, we waited at their predicted exit point for a week.

One week later, the Rozencrantz, accompanied by four transport ships and two frigates, dropped right into
my lap. At the same time, two pirate raiders (of the same clan we had... encountered previously), and a
third frigate departed from Footfall to meet them. Technically, we were outnumbered five to one.

Did I falter? No. Did I shirk from my Emperor-given duty? No. Did I take one step backwards? No again.
I ordered the engines to full power and we fell amongst them like a reaper in tall grass.

The Magos had made a wager that he was a better shot than I, so I graciously allowed him to man the
gunnery controls. His opening volley was quite successful and smashed the nearest transport to fragments,
while Dray, aboard the Envenomed Blade, scored a few solid hits on a nearby frigate and set its void-
shield generator aflame.

Only then did I deign to transmit a demand to surrender. I think I kept a copy of it here somewhere...

“Hear me, Rogue Trader Laertes Geneso Olivares, master and commander of His Invincible Will.
I see before me a motley and ragged crew of conspirators, lackeys of the known and proclaimed
heretic Maximillian von Caius. Be there is one among you who may represent all, let him come
forward and be judged. Come he alone and willingly to my vessel, and all your lives may be
spared by the resultant negotiation.”

If ye decide to fight I will split your ships in half and leave you to burn in the dark. I will not rest,
nor will my guns rest, until every man, woman, and child that I now see before me lies dead. I am
not a merciful man, and I will give no quarter. Surrender willingly unto me and you will suffer
Imperial justice. Surrender not, and you will discover that the justice I bring is swift and pitiless.

You have one Terran minute to respond. May the Emperor show you mercy, for I will not.”

All I received in reply was curses and incoherent muttering. My crew seemed fearful, so as we sped
forward to fire a second salvo, I decided to make a speech to the crew to inspire them in the coming fight.
After all, we were outnumbered and outgunned. I spoke in the traditional Gothic verse pattern reserved
only for dire straits and dread proclamations.

“He that shall live this day will, yearly on the vigil
Feast amongst his neighbours and say,
“Tomorrow is Saint Drusus‟ Day”
Then he shall strip his sleeve and bare his scars
And say, “These wound I had on Saint Drusus‟ Day.”

26
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot
But he‟ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.
And the crash of the guns shall assail his ears
And the fire of the lances burn his eyes
And he shall tremble at the wrath we unleashed
Upon the enemies of Man!

This story shall the Abbot teach his pupils


And the Priest inspire his flock by
And ne‟re shall the Feast of St. Drusus go by
From this day until the stars go dim
But in it our deeds remembered.

And the bells of Terra itself shall ring that day


As they will ring today
For our fire will set the stars askew
And sear the void itself with righteous fury
So that even on far Terra the huddled masses
Shall hear our blows fall!

Go now, look to your station and prepare.


We sail for battle and honour, for remembrance
Of those slain by treachery and unnatural acts
And in the Emperor‟s name we shall fight until
We fight at his side in spirit!”

You will notice that I offered crewmen both means and incentive to flee the battle. None did, obviously.
It‟s possible that they were encouraged to remain at their post by the armsmen posted at the shuttle bays.
After all, poetic metaphors can only go so far.

We scattered them like chaff before the hurricane. Von Caius launched bombers, but we shot every last
one of them down. The Wild Lightning raged and roamed, while the main guns tore great holes in the
Rozencrantz. Magos Robertson scored the last hit; a beautiful lance strike which bored a hole through the
bridge. Even to the end, von Caius refused my generous terms of surrender. He must have known that his
heresies were a death sentence now, or later.

I doubt there are a thousand men left alive on that ship. We‟re moving into position now, and I‟m
planning on going over with the Magos. After all, the cargo holds are intact, and he was transporting
something. The cargo ship was carrying mercenary troops: where we they going? The rest of the ships
fled: who can they call down on me?

27
Chapter the Sixth
I hate fighting in the void. You can‟t see the lasfire; just the results. We were going over to the bridge: I
wanted a complete ship‟s schematic before salvage operations began in full. Our initial boarding teams
were reporting fierce resistance, centralized in the starboard hangar bay, but I expected the bridge to be
deserted.

We lost an armsman before we even got close. A long-las shot from a concealed postion in the wreckage:
clever. We still had a few hundred metres of void to traverse, and the sniper had his choice of targets. The
Magos, of course, returned fire with his bolter, but hit nothing. It fell to one of the remaining armsmen to
make a lucky shot with a laspistol. We saw a second bloom of escaping atmosphere: his hit was clean.

We entered the bridge through a great rent torn by the Magos‟s last lance shot: his aim was damnably
good. One of the armsmen found Bartholomew von Caius spitted on a spar of metal and frozen solid. We
packaged him up for the return trip, and turned to securing the bridge.

The Magos began interfacing with the damaged machine-spirits, while I took it upon myself to examine
the corpse of Maximillian von Caius. The searing heat of the lance had melted his flesh to the command
throne, and, though I couldn‟t smell him through the void, of course, he looked crispy, like fried groxhide.
I set about cutting his command throne from the deck plating: I wasn‟t going to peel him off and the
throne was rather nice.

I was interrupted by another death: one armsman caught a lasbeam to the chest and was degassed almost
instantly. It‟s rumoured to be a painful way to die. Seven rebels were rushing the door, firing wildly.
Their shots passed by me, and I opened fire, hitting nothing. The Magos stood up from his meditation,
and, bracing himself for the recoil, killed six attackers with as many shots. Truly, the Emperor was with
him, for his hits would have killed a man even without the aid of the all-consuming void.

The last man fled: I cannot abide cowards, and I finished him off with a las-round in the back of the head.
We retired back to our shuttle: the Magos had evidently accrued enough information for the time being.
Frustratingly, the ship‟s destination was unrecorded. Perhaps only men now dead knew where exactly the
von Caius were taking their armies and war machines.

In any case, we returned to the ship without incident. Reports from the Rozencrantz indicated that the
resistance movement was gaining strength in the fighter bays and that casualties were becoming
intolerably high, so I had the Mago use a sunsear turret to destroy the generators powering the atmosphere
containment field. It took him a few shots: he‟s getting sloppy, and the delay allowed a few transports to
escape towards Footfall. I debated firing at them, but realized that showing mercy might make them more
willing to surrender in the future.

The whole business of not surrendering was quite annoying. Reports said that the resistance fought
fanatically, and occasionally vented themselves if the compartment was in danger of being taken. What
pains me more is that they did so while shouting good, Imperial slogans: the crew, though mislead
dreadfully by the late von Caius, appears to have been loyal to the end. Pity that most of them are dead:
perhaps the Emperor will look kindly upon them.

I voxed Dray to see how salvage operations on the wrecked transport were proceeding. Apparently, that
ship was far more damaged, and he was only able to evacuate a few thousand of the mercenary troops it
carried before the transports plasma drives, through treachery or damage, exploded. The Envenomed
Blade was undamaged, and the mercenaries were both grateful and cooperative. It wouldn‟t do to make
enemies of them: after all, they only fight for coin.

28
With most of the insurrection aboard the Rozencrantz subdued, we began preparations to tow it into
Footfall. A few hours in, and not quite clear of the designated warp transit area, the ship‟s anti-collision
beacon sounded. A ship was inbound at far to daring an angle to avoid collision, and we desperately threw
power to the engines. It worked, to a certain degree. The new arrival merely sheared off the front of the
Rozencratz’s bow armour and missed His Invincible Will entirely.

A cursory sensor scan indicated that vessel apparently piloted by mind-rusted servitors was Calligos
Winterscale‟s flagship, The Black Hand of Fate. I expected better piloting from the famous Trader: he
apparently expected a debris-free transit zone. Discussion ensued.

Calligos Winterscale is a man with a notoriously short temper, but I am nothing if not diplomatic. I
waited patiently for his subordinate to finish his tirade, then apologized. As the damage to both ships was
roughly equal, I wondered if it might not be best to discuss the terms of the repairs somewhere more
convenient. Winterscale graciously agreed to host, and I embarked on a shuttle for his ship.

Of course, we both knew what was really going on. Two Rogue Traders do not meet and discuss terms
without suitable refreshments, which I provided in the forms of several bottles of a good Quaddis vintage,
and suitable setting, which Winterscale provided in the form of his opulent hall and den of genteel vice.
Two Rogue Traders do not meet and discuss terms without a suitable medium, in this case, the ancient
and most excellent game of mah-jong!

Every Sunday, I played as my late great-uncle Stephano‟s second, usually against the Archbishop and
some other worthy. The Archbishop, despite his advanced age, has never lost his skill at the game, and I
brought him with me as my second when I faced Winterscale.

His second was one of his wives or concubines, I think. Perhaps he thought she‟d be a distraction, for she
had no skill at the game and frequently impeded her own teammate. Initially, we both played cautiously,
but as I began to get a feel for Winterscale‟s mind my strategy‟s grew bolder. Though he is fierce in
demeanour and charming to speak with, he lacks any skill at bluffing. I could read his hand in his eyes:
victory was a foregone conclusion.

The stakes were as follows: the loser (Winterscale) would have to fully repair, refit, and stock the
Rozencrantz, and provide her with crew, and deliver her to the winner (myself) within two years to the
day of this game. Failure to abide by the conditions, or unsatisfactory workmanship, or, dare I imply it,
theft of the vessel would result in penalties up to and including death.

It was therefore a good thing I won: with my coffers nigh empty, a full refit in two years would bankrupt
me. Winterscale, who damn near owns Footfall, could do it in a month if he had to at no great expense.
Yes, it was a risk, but I deem it a worthy risk. After all, he will have good incentive to defend it from
those shiplorn.

Perhaps I should tell more of Winterscale‟s party. Though after his loss he ordered the revelers to leave
(after tossing the board and tiles across the room), he soon regained his former happy state of mind, and
lead the dance for hours. I did not dare leave for fear of offense, though the Archbishop, curiously,
seemed to enjoy the party atmosphere. With a bit of rumour-mongering and palm-greasing, I was able to
solicit some interesting tidbits about “the Council‟s” destination world: the world their troops were meant
for and their weapons designed for.

I didn‟t get a name: perhaps it doesn‟t have one. I must remember to think of a suitable one. Apparently,
they found a great big planet out near the Rifts of Hekaton. If the drunk I got the information from was
reliable, the von Caius had discovered a whole bevy of worlds, and was busy trying to exploit them.

29
The “big planet” was the crown jewel: a fertile world with ten times the surface area of a normal 1-G
world, and completely hollow. I would find it, and take it if need be. After all, their Warrant of Trade now
resides in my cabin: they are illegally operating in the Expanse. I shall go forth and administer justice.

We transferred the two cables and mercenary troops to Winterscale‟s control. I think he was still passed
out from the previous night: he cannot hold his wine. In any case, we decided to follow the warp trails of
the fleeing frigates: their destination would be ours.

I need not detail a month of boring navigation, chart-checking, and uneventful transit. I had the Magos
work on repairing a strange four-treaded tank we had salvaged from the Rozencrantz. Before handing the
ship over, we had salvaged everything portable. Notably, we acquired two light scoutcars, two chimera
transports (weaponless), and the ill-maintained tank.

The Magos kept himself occupied by bolting heavy stubbers to damn near everything. The chimera got
three: the turret, hull, and pintle. The tank had no less than seven, and the groundcars even got two! I
think he may have gone a bit mad, but it would be impolite to mention it. The tank‟s main cannon would
require total replacement and we don‟t carry battlecannons onboard. I believe the Magos knocked
together a sort of spring-loaded incendiary launcher. Why, I couldn‟t say. At least he hasn‟t been talking
about servitors again.

In any case, we tracked the ships to some unrecorded world by the rifts. The remains of several solar
collection stations and pre-Imperial battleships created an orbital debris field: our enemies could be hiding
amongst the wreckage and we would never know. The surface was a half-blasted ruin: this planet was a
former warzone. Ork wrecks dotted the surface, along with crashed warships and burnt cities. It was an
old world: several hundred years since the last great battle.

I decided to go exploring: evidently this world was worth something. The pre-Imperial tech, while not
terribly impressive from orbit, might be valuable. And there were strange energy signatures down there,
which, in Rogue Trader-speak, is code for treasure. I kept my ships at high anchor, scanning away, while
I loaded two cargo landers and dropped for the biggest city with the most energy readings.

We deployed the new tank, a chimera with twelve armsmen in it. The Magos and I would be in the
groundcar, along with a navigator/ assistant. We landed at a ruined airstrip: orbital munitions or cluster
bombing had reduced most of it to rubble. The long-rusted hulks of planes sat along the runway, perhaps
scrambled and then abandoned. Most of the rest of the city was the same: half burnt towers and stubs of
buildings. The cargo landers were to return to orbit: it was far too risky to have them sit around if Orks
still infested the planet.

We made our way towards a nearby tower. Behind it and into a shallow bay, the Magos assured me, was
an orbital defence building still miraculously protected by a flickering umbrella shield. I wanted to get
some sense of the history of this planet before wandering blindly into an area that still had power, so we
set out for the building.

At one point we were ambushed by a group of Ork buggies, but combined firepower made short work of
their ramshackle vehicles. Really, they posed no threat to our caravan at all, and were quickly and noisly
dispatched. We made it to the building, but took some fire from the upper floors. A missile (guided by the
Magos) and a few stubber rounds reduced the return fire.

The building was a mere sixty stories tall, but the elevator was gone. Instead, a primitive (and probably
Orkish) ladder served in its place. I set the ladder on fire and took the stairs.

On the thrity-second floor, we encountered our first von Caius trooper. The majority of the shots directed
at us had come from this floor, so I was surprised to find but one cowering trooper. Apparently, we had
got all his squadmates.

30
Unfortunately, he didn‟t know how to operate the vox-set, or where the von Caius ships were hiding, or
who to contact for help, or, warp-dammit, his own name! Useless! Why do I always capture the useless
ones?

We dragged him all the way to the thirty-fifth floor, where the Magos made an interesting discovery. An
ancient bank of cogitor units, in a sealed and pressurised room, kept safe for who knows how many
centuries. I am proud to say that the differences in language (evidently these primitives spoke some form
of debased Low Gothic) did not hinder the Magos, and he had the door open before I could command him
to do it.

Hmm, perhaps that isn‟t admirable after all. In any case, the Magos went off to do technical things I, quite
frankly, don‟t understand, and I scouted the room. Evidently, the cogitators were powered from an in-
floor power generator, possibly nuclear, concealed beneath them. Cutting the power could cause the loss
of valuable data, but, as the Magos discovered, it would take time to translate and decode. The sheer
volume of information was too great to store, and we had no idea what was important and what was
discardable.

So, we took it all. The Magos had brought a few teleport beacons, and, with a bit of placement and some
careful instruction to the ship‟s resident Tech-Priests, we prepared to teleport damn near the entire floor to
orbit.

Of course, just before we began, the Tech-Priest pointed out that we would also be removing several load-
bearing columns, which would probably result in the collapse of the building. This in mind, we decided to
delay the teleportation until we had further scouted the building.

From the ground, the upper floors looked nearly totally decayed, but we decided to check for Ork
presence. The Tech Priest, in a throw which would make the boulder-hurlers of P‟tal‟lie IV proud, tossed
the know-nothing soldier damn near over the roof. A few shots hit him on the way up, and again on the
way down: Orks in the upper floors.

We ensured that the room we were set to remove was completely secured against incursion, and then
decided to investigate the basement. After all, there might be something good down there. With a bit of
rappelling down the smoke-filled elevator shaft, we were able to reach the basement in good time. There
was little of interest besides a second elevator leading to a sub-basement bunker. We were unable to get
the blast doors open, but someone (centuries ago) had drilled a small hole through their inches-thick
plating. The Magos rigged up an eye on a string, and had a look around.

The bunker was, perhaps, a command centre, or a last-ditch hideout. But someone evidently did not like
the people in the command centre, for they had drilled a hole and pumped in poison gas. Only bones and
faded uniforms remained.

We decided that what information we could gather from laboriously breaking into the vault would be
superseded by the information in the cogitator room, so we left it. The plan is to evacuate the building,
drive fairly far away, teleport the room out, and then drive to the “strange energy signature”, and, if
possible, steal it. The Magos is busy calculating which direction the building will fall, if it falls. I‟m not
comforted by his cackling...

31
Chapter the Seventh
Once again, I am glad to have escaped a dire situation with my life. Admittedly, I did leave behind two
armsmen, an Astropath, and my left hand, but I consider it a fair trade.

But to get to that damned world where I lost my hand, the business of the world my record last spoke of
needs conclusion. We were...where were we?. Ah yes, approaching the huge tower, correct? The
thousand-story high building capped with an umbrella shield, radiating strange energy, and protected on
all sides by banks of “beam-cannon” turrets? Yes, yes we were.

Our convoy of chimera transports, non-standard tank, and refitted groundcar made best speed for the
titanic building. Behind us, the much smaller building sagged, as if depressed. The floor we had
teleported to orbit was apparently structurally vital, but not vital enough to cause the building to fail. I
suspect the Orks inside were squashed.

The new tower, which we would refer to as the 1000-floor Spire, was horribly unornamented. The
exterior was polished glass and metal, lacking any sort of beautification or ornaments so vital in Imperial
design. The rippling shield projected from the top of the tower reached ground level a fair distance away
from the Spire‟s base. It didn‟t quite touch the ground: a stone or ferrocrete wall met it a several metres
before it reached the surface. We were approaching what appeared to be the main gate. The beam turrets
on either side of the gate ignored us: either their beams would be unable to penetrate our armour, or some
heretical pattern-recognition system recognized our vehicle designs.

In any case, we smashed the flimsy iron gate and entered the complex. Rows of rusting four-treaded tanks
stretched up towards the Spire: evidently, this had been a last point of defence. With my armour‟s
enhanced vision, I spotted some von Caius troops moving into defensive positions at the entrance of the
building. Two autocannon teams were behind sandbags on the white marble steps, while five of the von
Caius Legionnaires, with curious weapons and shields, stood between them.

Our convoy parked just outside of their effective range, and I ordered their surrender by laud hailer.
Apparently, they were disinclined to listen, and a few lasrounds pattered off the armour of our vehicles.
Our return fire was more effective. While the chimera and battle tank engaged the autocannon teams with
stubber fire, the tank‟s incendiary shell hit the Legionnaires. The shields they carried were some sort of
small-scale field generators, and the fire bounced harmlessly off their grotesquely overpowered defences.
The Magos alerted me to several power cables snaking away from their shields and back into the building.
I formulated a plan.

The plan would have worked if the Magos was capable of actually driving a groundcar. Oh, he told me he
was, but after he flipped the damn thing taking a corner too fast, I have my doubts. I would have told him
to slow down, but I was too busy strafing with the heavy stubbers. I was thrown clear of the tumbling
wreck, and had the presence of mind to activate my Lathe-made refractor field. My impact with the side
of a tank was somewhat lessened by the field, and, though I was shaken, I suffered no serious injury.

The Magos, on the other hand, had skidded upside-down for several metres, face scraping along the
ground. The impact had also torn open the groundcar‟s fuel canisters, and promethium had entirely
soaked the vehicle and Tech-Priest. The chimera pulled up behind me, firing on the one survivor of my
strafing run and missing entirely. I finished him off with a bolt round to the head, and then went to check
the Magos.

I needn‟t have bothered. The Magos has roughly six inches of adamantium plate where a normal man
would have a skull, and was entirely unharmed. He pulled himself out of the car, shearing metal and
ceramite with ease, and stood up. Moments later, his promethium-soaked robe caught fire.

32
With some sort of magnetic levitation, the flaming Tech-Priest lifted himself up. In a distorted and
booming voice, he roared at the assembled troops,

“THE DREAD MAGOS ROBERTSON LEAVES NO SURVIVORS! THE DREAD MAGOS


ROBERTSON HAS COME... FOR YOUR SOULS!!!”

Panic reigned. I believe they thought he was some sort of daemon, and I half agreed with them. The
impression was helped by the fact that nobody seemed able to hit him. The remaining few troops broke
and ran. The Legionnaires, for all their formidable reputation, were the first to flee. In their haste, they
dropped their shields and weapons.

My armsmen took up defensive positions outside the entrance, while I extinguished the Magos. I made
him recite some of the Litanies, just to be sure he wasn‟t actually a daemon. One can never be too careful.

The shields of the Legionnaires were powered by a servitor-mounted plasma generator; quite a valuable
find. Their spears were modified lasrifles, but as my armsmen carried autoguns with Lathe rounds, they
were discarded. The shields, however, would be useful, and we advanced into the building using them as
cover. The first room was a sort of atrium, and we moved towards the two elevators flanking the main
corridor.

Magos Robertson spent a few minutes fiddling with the elevator‟s keypad, while I investigated the
building. It would seem that, for a centuries-old derelict, the Spire was in remarkably good condition. I
suspected some form of automated maintenance or control. I also spotted two beam cannons in recesses in
the roof: this building would have been well defended. Of course, the cannons were inactive.

I suspect that the Magos was just lucky in finding the combination to open the elevator. Of course, he
opened the wrong one. The elevator far down the hall opened, rather than the one next to the keypad. I
didn‟t mention it: he seemed quite pleased anyway.

The elevator was fairly large, and appeared to be supported on four magnetic rails. The plasma-generator
servitor, the Magos, and I formed the centre of a square, with enweaponed armsmen pointing in all
directions. Despite the Magos‟ objections, I believed I had the measure of the keypad, and sent us up to
the nine-hundred and ninety-ninth floor.

We ascended quite rapidly, and would have been crushed were it not for the advanced grav plating in the
elevator. Moments later, we were on the penultimate floor of the Spire, looking down at the sprawling and
ruined city. The room was evidently a sort of observation room: magnoculars dotted the perimeter,
looking down and out through thick glass. The Magos alerted me to a curious scene. In the distance, a
Gargant of some sort was marching slowly towards the Spire, belching smoke and spewing fire. Before I
had time to order an orbital strike, some damn fool did the job for me.

The Magos, with his perfect recall of all things seen and heard, said that a sort of portal had opened up in
midair, from which had emerged a beam of shining light. It evaporated the Gargant, leaving nothing but
another glassy crater behind. I ordered everyone to step away from the magnoculars, suspecting that they
were some sort of targeting system. The Magos assured me that they lacked any such capability.

Whatever was projecting the curious umbrella shield was in the floor above us; a floor we could not
access. Magos Robertson seemed sure that the power for the building was flowing up from the lowest
levels of the building, so we piled into the elevator. This time, I set the panel to the negative nine nine-
hundred and ninety-ninth floor, assuming that this would merely take us to the lowest basement level.

In a way, it did. The architects of such monstrous structures must have been mad. We plunged down, past
the first floor, and into subterranean levels. After approximately fifty floors of basement, we entered a
titanic cavern. Below, generators of monstrous size thrummed and sizzled with irradiative energies. Our

33
elevator rode on thin magnetic rails, which did not encourage us overmuch. The Magos seemed
entranced.

I will not detail our explorations of the lowest levels in laborious detail. We found the great maintenance
automaton which clean and preserve the Spire even now, their titanic stocks of fuel, and some trifling
remnants of the long-gone citizens of this vast complex. Eventually, the Magos found the controls for the
building‟s power, but we decided to leave the power on for the time being. It would prove to be an
inconvenient decision.

We ascended, and continued to explore the first floor of the Spire. We heard shouts of alarum and distress
from a central room, so we broke down the door. The last of the von Caius troops, about thirty, all told,
were surrounding a man I recognized as Lucien von Caius. I ordered their surrender: he laughed. I told
them that I would cause the reactors below us to overload if he did not: he did not believe my bluff.

His Legionaires were equipped with the same shields and lasrifle-spears as those we had scattered
outside. The Magos, in a burst of staccato machine-code, caused their plasma power servitor to
deactivate, dropping their force shields. We opened fire with grenade, bolter, and autogun, slaying many.
The Tech-Priest, confident of his own invulnerability, waded into the middle of the firefight.

Lucien, enraged, charged forward. He held a shield in one hand, a blazing power-axe in the other, and
glanded some sort of combat stimulant. The Tech-Priest‟s and my bolt shells only caused the shield to be
damaged, but did not harm him. He swung at the Magos, biting deep into his leg. The Tech Priest and I
swung at him as he swung at me: our weapons locked briefly.

With extraordinary speed, the Tech-Priest sliced off Lucien‟s leg, sending him insensible and mewling to
the floor. We bound and gagged the rest of the prisoners, sealed Lucien‟s leg, and left them under guard
as we explored the rest of the ground floor. Magos Robertson found some sort of holographic bank, and,
with a bit of technical jury-rigging, we were able to piece together the history of the world.

It would seem that in their decadence, this empire of nine or so worlds fell to civil war, during which this
world was devastated. Later, an Imperial fleet which was possibly my grandfather‟s passed through, was
fired upon by automated orbital defences, and departed. Recently, Orks arrived, fought the automated
defences, and crashed.

We loaded the prisoners and captives into a cargo lander, and brought down all manner of Tech-Priests.
In our investigation of the building, we had determined that each floor was guarded by a pair of beam
cannons, and several hundred more were scattered throughout. Such a rich prize was worth the risk, and
we decided to test if they could be removed.

While we retreated to a safe distance, a lone and lowly Tech-Priest would attempt to disconnect one of the
weapons. He very nearly succeeded, but in his foolishness activated the Spire‟s emergency defences. His
flesh was vaporised by the second of the pair of cannons, and blast doors sealed the halls. We retreated to
a safe distance, but as we did I came up with a plan.
There were three grav-chutes fortuitously stored in the cargo lander, and all manner of melta-bombs.
Myself, the Magos, and a second Tech-Priest would break in and descend to the cavern below, there
hopefully to disengage the power to the building, disabling the turrets and rendering them easy to remove.

The plan very nearly worked. Accessing the elevator wasn‟t difficult, and the grav-chutes worked
perfectly. The problems began when the Magos spotted the elevator descending towards us.

We all dove between the four rails to escape, but the strange electromagnetic energies shorted out the
other Tech-Priest‟s chute. He plunged quite rapidly towards the base of the cavern. The Magos and I
descended more gracefully.

34
To give the Magos time to disengage the power systems, I was forced to distract the hordes of
maintenance machines which were hellbent on destroying all intruders. With a bit of luck and some
button-mashing, I alone disabled them, and, once the building had been reduced to emergency power, we
ascended with the slightly squashed remains of the other Tech-Priest.

It took us three days to completely gut the building of beam weaponry, and, all told, we removed 3,800 of
them. Three thousand, eight hundred beam weapons, each one worth an absolute fortune on any market.
Of course, I had bigger plans.

While the removal teams were at work, the Magos and I took a jaunt in orbit. I had a yearning to visit one
of the orbital defence stations, to “acquire” some capital-sized weaponry. We went over in an Argus,
hoping to slip beneath the notice of whatever local defences were still operational. This was not to be the
case: we were fired as soon as we approached within a few kilometres. I ordered the pilot to take evasive
action, but not to break off the approach. As we dodged blasts of plasma fire and strange lance-like
beams, the Tech-Priest somehow managed to calm the station‟s heretical and arcane machine spirit. I
didn‟t want to alarm him, but he managed it just in time: we would have likely been vaporized under the
increasing rate of fire.

The exploration was both uneventful and disappointing. Though we discovered several new types of
weapons, the stations semi-aware (and heretical!) machine spirit would probably not suffer to have them
removed. The Magos was able to convince it that we were its allies. This proved quite profitable, as
minutes later the two von Caius ships decided to break orbit and flee. The station fired upon the nearest,
smashing it to fragments in a volley of horrific firepower. The second was out of range, and we ran back
to the Argus as it powered out of orbit.

Relaying a vox-missive through His Invincible Will, I ordered the second ship to stand down or suffer the
same fate as its co-conspirator. As they didn‟t know the effective range (or our lack of control) of the
orbital defences, they surrendered unconditionally.

The ship, Yorick’s Bane, was a beautifully maintained sword-class frigate. The crew seemed to be held in
equal parts terror and awe by my presence, a laudable state of mind. We allowed any crew who did not
wish to serve to be marooned: some did, but most stayed. With all but one of the von Caius dead, their
loyalties now lay with the mighty.

We left system shortly thereafter. We had too much exploring to do, and too little time. The Magos had a
map of the fallen empire‟s holdings, and we were heading towards the “big world”, the target of the von
Caius fleet‟s attentions, and the prize at the end of the tunnel. A hollow world, and artificial planet, a
treasure beyond reckoning. It would be mine, or it would burn.

We investigated two systems on the way there. One was Ork-infested: we fled rapidly. The other was
both dead and boring: no minerals, unusual readings, or other items of note. We fled rapidly once again.

The hollow world was quite a sight. The diameter was roughly ten times Terran standard, and the surface
was divided by seven longitudinal steel mountain ranges. One of the segments was cut by a huge rift, out
of which spilled black and pink mist. I recalled the mists of the Righteous Path; I was not amused.

We planned to land near the rift, but daemonic gibbering increased as we descended, so we reversed
course and retreated to the sanctity of high orbit. We decided to land on the opposite side of the planet
instead. It seems that this empire, in a fit of curiously repetitive thinking, built their cities around
Thousand-foot Spires. Someone had taken exception to the inhabitants of this planet, and virus-bombed
the tar out of it. Judging by the finely diced wreckage in orbit, an Imperial fleet had made a last stand
here.

35
We landed and surveyed the city. Everything was melted and ruined, but the interior was relatively fine.
The thick blast doors were easy to melt through, given enough time. The elevator was a problem, until I
had the Magos craft an ingenious solution. We bolted one of the pilfered engines from the Rosencrantz‟s
destroyed bombers to some vertical wheels, attached seats and emergency grav-chutes, and stuffed it into
the elevator shaft. The engine would slow our descent.

The investigative party would be made up of myself, the Magos, one of the Astropaths, and two armsmen.
The psyker would act as a sort of canary: if the gibbering got too loud, he was supposed to warn us, and
fleeing would ensue.

We descended through miles of underground city, sped past titanic caverns and machines of unknown
function, and, eventually, ran out of elevator shaft without hitting bottom. The halls and corridors at this
depth were less well maintained and polished than those of the other planet, suggesting a state of disuse or
disrepair. Some lights were still flickering, and seemed to be illuminating a particular route to the interior.

Why is it always a damned heretical artificial mind? We followed the lights for about 1.4 km, then
entered the true “interior” sphere of the hollow world. A roiling core of black mist buzzed at the centre of
the planet, somehow containing what we assumed was a warp rift or bit of Chaos manifest. Clearly, the
builders of this world were tainted by the touch of the Warp to build such a horrific melding of the arcane
and material.

In any case, we found the damned AI. It projected a holographic projection to welcome us, then
announced that it required our help to destroy the Imperium. Apparently, my great-grandfather‟s fleet had
come through the system and nearly destroyed the planet. The machine intelligence had bided its time,
plotting its insipid revenge. It gave me a tracking device, which it ordered me to plant on “Terra”; the
scale of the Imperium had not been revealed to this, apparently, as it gloated about “destroying our entire
fleet”.

The machine revealed that the entire planet was a sort of warp-based weapon. It fired projectiles and
energy weapons through semi-stable warp gates, targeted with precision across vast expanses. We were
shown footage of the weapon in action: it was most impressive. We resolved to destroy it immediately.

I believe the Tech-Priest got into a fight with some sort of combat machine at this point, while I and the
armsmen attacked the central cogitator core with lascutters. An incredibly strong force shield deflected
our blasts; it would seem a new tactic was in order. I had brought the psyker along for a reason, and I
ordered her to “frag up” the cogitator. Force shields are little use against sanctioned witchery, and, with a
surprised gurgle and a few sprays of sparks, the machine died.

Unfortunately, it was somehow integral to the maintenance of the black mist containing the warp breach.
The storm broke, and a warp incursion of planetary proportions boiled out of the core of the hollow
world. We ran. Emperor‟s breath, how we ran.

I think one of the armsmen was snatched by a tentacle, but he was behind us and I didn‟t stop to check.
The Magos was leading, carrying the now comatose and twitching Astropath. The second armsman...
disappeared midstride. I‟m not sure where he went either, but I wasn‟t keen to follow. We kept running.

I was running parallel with the Magos when the psyker began to make odd noises. Then he turned inside
out. I hate it when psykers do that.

The Magos let him drop, and we backed down the corridor. The psyker‟s body glowed with unholy light,
flesh disorting and rotting, the corridor dimmed further, loose objects were pulled into the rapidly
expanding daemon, and all manner of unpleasant sounds and smells assaulted us. We opened fire.

36
My blessed bolter shells cut deep into daemonflesh, opening horrific weeping sores. The Magos‟s
weapon, unsantified, still seemed to wound the creature. It wasn‟t enough: the daemon still advanced.
Greenish light and blasts of lightning coming from every pore, the monstrosity projected a roiling blast of
warp energy at us.

I feel certain that it would have killed us both, had I not blocked it with my sword. I can remember very
little of what happened next, but the Magos says that I charged it. I apparently shot it twice, then stabbed
it through the head with my sword. Only then, he says, did he notice that my left hand had been almost
entirely destroyed by the blast. The daemon‟s remains oozed and sizzled for some time after, so the
Magos tells me.

I was still in shock, but had time to stow my weapons before collapsing. Magos Robertson carried me as
he ran back to our rocket-propelled elevator. Despite being insensible, he tells me that I took pot-shots at
chasing threats. We made it back to the elevator relatively unscathed, and the Magos fired it up. The
building was missing its top hundred-or-so floors, so we had a clear shot to the atmosphere. The Magos
ordered immediate pickup by lighter, and one was dispatched.

The planet was collapsing below us. The titanic forces of the warp itself were tearing it apart. As
continents and oceans boiled away, we shot upwards. My ships were preparing to depart with all haste,
but wouldn‟t leave without their captain.

With a bit of sublime manoeuvring, the Tech-Priest managed to pilot our dangerously unstable elevator-
rocket into the back hatch of the Argus. It barely fit. He carried me out, and ordered the pilot to break
gravity. The tides of the warp were too strong, however, and we were being pulled back into the nascent
warpstorm developing below us.

To keep me conscious, the Magos injected me with some stimms. Flushed with insight and adrenaline, I
ordered him to activate the elevator‟s rocket booster once again. That extra power gave us just enough
thrust to clear orbit and dock. We fled at best possible speed.

It is thanks to the skill of my Navigator and the Emperor‟s favour that we escaped the worst of the storm.
We maintained warp as long as possible, only dropping out to realign. By sheer luck, we dropped into a
rather remarkable isolated system. The main points of interest were a beautiful gas giant ringed with some
fantastically mineral rich worlds, and, most surprisingly, a oxygen-laden world with leafy vegetation.

We performed a cursory sweep of the system, prepared charts, and departed for the Maw. It would be out
of our way to visit Footfall, so we passed it at maximum speed. I had a plan now: a plan so cunning it
would shake the foundations of the Sector. Providing, that is, it worked. First, we needed to talk to a
Tech-Priest. And there‟s only one place in all the Calixis Sector that has Tech-Priests mad enough to
follow me in to the Expanse: Idumea.

37
Chapter the Eighth
It took us a full month to reach Idumea. Such was our haste that we didn‟t repair or rest until we entered
the Idueman system proper. We were escorted in with great fanfare.

Perhaps I should discuss the mad world of Idumea. I shall merely summarize: better and more exhaustive
works discuss the strange planet in much greater detail. Suffice to say that the planet is full of feuding
factions of Tech-Priests, who believe that competition (armed, usually) is the mother of progress. So the
planet is a war world. It, I believe, consumes most of its own production, but what production!

Beautiful tanks! Plasma weaponry! Ceramics! They have a whole Space Marine Chapter, the Tomb
Brothers, which gets its equipment from this world, and conduct live fire training exercises against
wayward hives. Their lasguns are efficient and compact, their grenades are ingenious, and they have
scores of Titans.

We entered orbit, and convened a great Jury (the term the Iduemans use for auctions). No Magos worth
his headtubes would dare not attend, for there was much to be discussed. Over four thousand worthy
Techno-Barons, Forge-Dukes, and all manner of mechanical people showed up. We announced our grand
plan.

The Ultionis system, named, of course, by me, would be up for grabs. Any party willing to provide
financial backing, military support, transport, and materials would receive our political support, a supply
of the beam cannons, and the Tech-Priest‟s newly created method for producing the cannons.

He did have all month to design it, after all. Tests were... promising, but the high rate of backfires and
explosion meant that more fine-tuning would be required. I am sure he‟ll figure it all out eventually.

In any case, the select backers would get the plans and support to build factories to produce the weapons.
They would find many buyers. The fertile world would become an Agri-world, one of the first in the
Expanse. I would also build a city in the rocky highlands of the planet, for myself and the planetary
government. The Mechanicus would supply the expertise, but the promise of the weapons would, no
doubt, prove enticing.

Perhaps more on Idumea. The atmosphere is storm-wracked, for each forgehive is constructed around an
archeotech Weather Engine, and each hive seeks to outdo its fellows in ferocity. Most hives are
surrounded by jackets of frozen oceans, while others are surrounded with moats of lava, obsidian walls, or
force shields of titanic proportions. They are mostly independent. The largest hives are the Anvils, which
are the only true “safe” zones. We held our Jury at the polar anvils, the main ports, where most of the
goods are sent to orbit during the few times of clear weather and no Catastrophe.

Oh, the Catastrophe. Comets, chunks of ore, stellar gasses, and all manner of horrible things come spilling
out of some sort of warp anomaly and smash into Idumea. Lots of mineral riches, lots of volcanic activity,
and occasionally one or two hives get smashed into rubble by falling bits of rock or something. Really,
it‟s quite frustrating. The Catastrophe, as it‟s called, hasn‟t occurred for some seventy years, meaning
they‟re well overdue. The last time it happened, the northern hemisphere got a new ocean, and everyone
made lots and lots of money.

Where was I? Oh yes, the Jury. Well, it almost immediately erupted into a high-speed Techno-Lingua
argument. The Tech-Priest tells me that if the discussion were translated into Low Gothic, it would take
over a month to listen to fully. Ah well, such is life on Idumea: arguments none can understand over
issues none are permitted to know.

38
It boiled down to an issue of orthodoxy. Idumea is not as stringent as the Lathes, but it is not without
tradition and ritual. The more... traditional members perceived our weapons and ambitions as heresy and
hubris, while the radical factions supported it to varying degrees. It was as the Magos expected: we retired
for two weeks.

During this period of discussion (called a Recess on Idumea), I had a mechanical hand fitted. The Magos
directed me to a semi-radical faction who had expressed interest in the Armada, and, in exchange for a
single beam cannon, they fashioned an absolutely marvellous limb for me. It is ceramic and gold, forged
from the same thrice-fired plate as my armour. It cunningly conceals an ancient Inferno pistol, and has a
built-in grapnel line. Quite frankly, I could not have asked for a better hand. It made a pleasant change
from the hook I had been forced to use for the past few weeks: hygiene was a continual hassle.

After two weeks of Recess (which involved two small wars, an orbital bombardment, and the deployment
of a Warhound Titan battlegroup), we had three promising bidders. One, the radical Phixlip faction,
another, the same semi-radical Externalist faction which gave me my hand, the third, a strange orthodox
faction with a reputation for ruthless purity.

It was the orthodox faction that we were concerned about. You can trust a radical to be radical, but you
just can‟t trust an honest man, even if he is half cogitator. Either the orthodox faction was trying to worm
its way into a position to discredit us, or it was not as orthodox as it seemed. Either scenario was
unpleasant to consider, so we resolved to investigate the duplicities of their order.

The Magos and I were en-route to their hive, Lathe Nine, when his ever-vigilant auspex-scanning
detected some sort of anomaly off our course. Reasoning that anomalies are often interesting and
profitable, we diverted to pass over it.

It appeared that a modified Litigator transport and two Axiom-class gunships had touched down just past
some ancient stone ruins. The entire continent was dust and sandstone: if we hadn‟t picked up the faintest
glimmer of a vapour trail we would have missed it entirely. The gunships moved to intercept us as we
approached, and ordered an immediate reversal of trajectory. The Magos recognized their markings as
those belonging to a mercenary organization currently employed by our orthodox friends. This was
grounds for investigation.

The fierce and ever-present storms helped, I must admit. I ordered the pilot to return to Anvil Borealis,
while the Tech-Priest and I surreptitiously grav-chuted out the back hatch. We snuck through the fierce
winds and driving sand towards the ruins, pausing only to evade the stablights of the Axiom gunships.
The eventually gave up and returned to their base, and we approached with felid-like tread.

Through the blowing dust, we spotted four Tech-Priest consulting various cogitator banks surrounding a
great pit in the sand. Several digging servitors were at work, uncovering a huge black obelisk of some
sort. I infer that it was the product of some Xenos race or device fallen from the Catastrophe.

I had no idea of the purpose of the artefact, and so I decided to have the Tech-Priest investigate the
consoles. Of course, this would be impossible under normal circumstances: every console was in use. I
therefore ordered the Magos to create some unusual circumstances.

With a stream of binary, he set a fuel-loading servitor to bashing itself over the head with a fuel drum. As
all eyes turned to that scene, he and I separated and moved closer. I was spotted before he was, and all
eyes turned to me. A Rogue Trader‟s job in situations such as this is to attract attention, so I did.

I spun a wondrous tale of deception, bad directions, and epic adventures. I was just getting to the bit
where the natives of the wasteland had made me their chief, only to chase me down when I inadvertently
trod on their blasphemous idol, when the Magos indicated he had finished. So fixiated were the Tech-
Priests and guards on my story that they had entirely failed to notice him sneak right under their noses.

39
With a flourish, I introduced the Magos when he was once again at my side, and then we retreated for the
landing pad. We allowed ourselves to be flown via Litigator transport to the Anvil Borealis. We should
have reported the artefact to the Inquisition, but I decided against it. Without further information, we
could be sending the Inquisiton‟s holy representatives into a trap. After all, the Magos said that the
orthodox Tech-Priest had no idea what the monolith was, either.

Apparently, it was a big rectangle (with a circular hole in it) of some matt black material, attached to an
oval base, which was currently buried. It was also slowly sinking: the Tech-Priests were excavating as
fast as they could. We resolved to determine if the artefact was warp-tainted, and so decided to rent a
psyker.

Astropaths are common on Idumea: during the great dust-storms, they are the only means of
communication with orbit. For a quite unreasonable sum, we rented a twitchy young psyker for two
hours, for “communication purposes”. We had him insured.

After covering our tracks and performing a bit of circuitous flying, we re-approached the ruins. The storm
had intensified, and flying was quite difficult. The engines cut out a few hundred metres from the landing
strip, and we hit ground rather soon after. Luckily, the pilot put us down right on the landing strip, next to
the fuel depot. Three Axioms were now on the landing strip, along with a different Litigator.

Oh, because we had “accidentally” destroyed the fuel supplies here (the servitor had burst a barrel just
after my speech, and set off the rest of the barrels). If we were spotted, the barrels would be a good
excuse. Alternatively, they would be an excellent instigator of unusual circumstances.

The Tech-Priests had, in the intervening hours (for renting an Astropath is not done without paperwork),
had erected a sort of semi-rigid dome over the excavation. A smaller dome next to the airfield was
perhaps a storage area or shelter for the guards. One guard was in full sandgear outside the entrance,
lasgun at the ready. I snuck foward with the Astropath in tow, while the Magos circled around to
approach the entrance from the side.

I engaged the guard in amiable discussion, whereupon he shot me. Me! With a lasgun! It‟s hardly a
sensible idea: my refractor field was quite frankly more than able to cope with a low-powered weapon. I
continued to berate him as he fired, and I berated his superior, a Tech-Priest of some sort, who came out
after him. The Magos snuck in just as the Mechorthodox Tech-Priest walked out: all eyes were on me.

At this point, I was getting irritated. Both the guard and Tech-Priest were plinking away at me, the psyker
was probably reconsidering his obligation (despite the hefty bribe), and the Magos, once inside, wouldn‟t
have any cover. I shouted with full force at my two attackers, which got them to pause.

After a bit of discussion, they invited me inside the dome. I realized that the Magos would be spotted the
moment we got in, and so, to deflect attention once again, I fell over backwards into the excavation pit.
Mid tumble, I realized that I‟d better bring the psyker too, and grabbed him by the arm. We slid and
bounced down into the pit, and came to rest just at the base of the monolith. The ever-industrious Tech-
Priest has uncovered much more of it.

The Magos snuck outside again, as everyone inside was looking at me. I was busy looking at the psyker,
who was looking at the monolith. I hate it when Astropaths do that: staring at things when they really
ought not to. It‟s never a good sign. I climbed back up the slope and stood next to the guard.

Now that he was indoors, the guard seemed most amiable. He and I had an interesting conversation as we
watched the Tech-Priests watch the psyker watch the monolith. Things were simplified when the psyker
disappeared. Then, the Tech-Priests, who had gotten more fixiated on the stone, disappeared too. I
decided to flee. The guard, now in my employ, followed me out, and we both grabbed the Magos and
sprinted for the pad. I decided that, despite the risk, we would have to go back.

40
The other mercenaries from the storage tent, the Magos, the pilot and myself carried all the barrels of fuel
to the lip of the excavation and hurriedly rolled them in. I tossed in all my grenades, and ordered the ships
to prepare for take-off. The Magos cleared the engine jam, and the Argus powered up. I tossed the last
grenade and sprinted for the airstrip.

I had to jump into the open door of the Argus, so eager was the pilot to escape. Moments later, a column
of flame shot up, incinerating the dome. It continued to rise, against the limitations of the fuel used, until
a ribbon of fire reached several kilometres up. I hate when xenos/warp artefacts do that.

A few moments later, we were hit by a sort of sonic pulse. For about half a second, everyone doubled
over in spasms. The Magos, of course, turned off his ears, and was from that point on immune. I wonder
if he‟s ever turned them on: it‟s hard to tell if he ever listens to me. In any case, he took over piloting
duty, while I voxed the Anvils. I informed them that the Mechorthodox faction had been secretly
unearthing xenos artefacts, and that something had gone terribly wrong.

The pulses were increasing in frequency: every few seconds to every second to ten times a second. Then,
ominously, they stopped. The auspex reported a huge wall of sand approaching from behind us and a
corresponding shockwave. We poured on all possible speed and headed up. The three Axioms followed,
though one was not fast enough and was hit by the wall of sand. As we approached orbit over the crest of
the silicate wave, I could see a second wave approaching from the opposite side of the planet. Perhaps the
strange device had a counterpart on the opposite side of Idumea?

In any case, I kept the Anvils informed, and was soon transferred to the High Forgemaster. He authorized
orbital bombardment to prevent further damage, as the Magos suspected that the monolith was
recharging.

Really, his theory on the nature of the construct is quite fascinating. He believes that it was some sort of
mining device, designed to flay layers off a planet for easier access to minerals. Of course, anything living
on the surface would be destroyed. While the first “wave” had only carried the force of a really bad
sandstorm or comet strike, the following waves would destroy Idumea.

While I would normally have ordered all guns to fire, I realized that hitting a small target accurately from
orbit would be difficult. Fortunately, the Magos had on him a teleport homer, which, with a little
modification, would broadcast a very accurate firing solution. I made sure that the monolith on the other
side of the planet was similarly targeted. We turned the Argus around and plunged through suddenly clear
skies. The Axioms would continue to orbit, and dock with His Invincible Will.

We dropped quite rapidly, and unsafely. The Magos pointed out that, on the horizon, lines of what
appeared to be people were streaming out of the nearest hive (Lathe Six, the Mechorthodox one) towards
the monolith. We skimmed near, stopped for a moment, and I pitched the teleport homer out. We then
fled. Once I deemed we were clear, I gave the order for all to fire. The High Forgemaster‟s ship fired first:
a pair of Forbidden Atomic warheads. The resultant crater was over 500m deep, and the sandstone was
melted into polished glass.

While the monolith may have been sturdy, it was not proof against the cleansing fire of the atom.
Unfortunately, the several thousand transfixed citizens of nearby hives were also vaporized, but most
were kept contained by the Tech-Priests. Idumea was saved.

I spoke at length with the High Forgemaster, explaining our part in the affair. I told him that the
Mechorthodox had, as part of the negotiation process, asked us to bring an Astropath to an isolated
location for a secret meeting, one in which vox communication would be suspect. I agreed, but was
shocked to find out that they were, in fact, unearthing a dread xenos artefact (most illegally), and intended
to fuel it with the Astropath. Though duped, we fought valiantly, but were unable to prevent the sacrifice.
The rest, of course, he knew, or thought he knew.

41
Admittedly, they were a minor faction with a lot of political enemies. We just gave them an excuse.

The highest ranking Adepts of the Mechorthodox hive were carted off before the Inquisition had time to
arrive, probably to worse fates. As per the arcane laws of Idumea, I, their revealer (or more properly, the
Tech-Priest, as the Unsworn, as non-Adepts are here called, are not allowed to inherit), was to receive
their Hive, their fleet (well, their one warp-capable transport), and all their accumulated wealth. I‟d be
damned if I let him have a Throne of wealth without first taking my share; the Magos is my servant, and I
am not a tolerant master.

I dispatched Dray with the Blade and the Bane to hire some Chartist captains. We would need them to
transport the citizens of our new worlds. As it stands, they have found three in the neighbouring systems
with agreeable prices and vessels. The radical Phixlipists and the same semi-radical Externalists agreed to
pool their resources and enter as joint partners. They are assisting in the stripping of Lathe Six as I write.
They have two cruisers, and a titanic transport ship, along with a few escorts and such. It is quite the
Armada I am assembling.

Transport to orbit is easy now, for the time being. Most of the surface has been swept clear of dust,
suspending it in the atmosphere. It also blew out the storms of Idumea, at least for the time being. Trade is
flourishing in their temporary absence, and it‟s making the decommissioning of Lathe Six much, much
easier.

Of those affected by the call of the monolith, most have been deemed untainted by the Inquisition, and are
being processed into servitors. They were almost servitor-like already: the call had overridden their minds
with but one imperative. A full tenth of the worker-helots of Lathe Six were affected, but most perished in
the conditions or in the attempt to leave the hive. All told, there are 41 million citizens of Lathe Six who
require transport to the Expanse.

41 million. We shall need more ships.

42
Chapter the Ninth
Lord Sector Hax will never again do two things. He will never rest easy around people with green hair,
and he will never, ever, again wager with me. Quite frankly, it was his own damn fault. Didn‟t he know
my reputation?

But I am getting ahead of myself. We were over Idumea, yes? Loading those dreadful citizens into our
ships, loading macrofoundries and powerpacks and the innumerable artifice of colonization? Yes, and the
Tech-Priest was mucking about.

He informed me, after some not inconsiderable study, that the beam cannons were going to be a mite
trickier to reproduce. Some internal component required an extremely rare material, which could not be
mined nor smelted nor easily synthesized. The closest approximation he could find was the adamantium-
steel alloy that had been exposed to the damaging energies a ship‟s warp core. He assured me that it was
not at all heretical or daemonic, but that the warp itself somehow affected the internal structure of the
alloy. Truthfully, I didn‟t care what the Tech-Priests reasons were. If we needed the alloy, we would get
it, even if it meant tearing warships apart.

With a bit of cramming and some space-saving measures, we crammed a little less than six million former
worker-helots into our holds. Each one was deloused and inspected for mutations: mutants were purged.
These people had nothing: now, most of them were getting a new life and a new start. Unsurprisingly,
they were quite grateful.

I had some of them taken as apprentices aboard His Invincible Will. We would need crew when we got to
Footfall, and I‟d rather have men I trusted at the guns than a motley collection of pirates and scum. Of
course, we‟d need a few scum to give the ship some expertise, but most of the ranks could be filled with
worker-helots.

And dammit, I had to pay for their food! Do you know how much it costs to feed all these colonists? Civil
works will be the death of me yet.

Oh, I spoke with the Space Marines. The Tomb Brothers; Idumea‟s “local” Chapter, if such a thing exists.
They are... regal. It is strange to speak with the Astartes; one always seems petty or childish next to them.

We negotiated. At first, I was not permitted to speak with the Chapter Master, but in time I won through.
We demonstrated our beam cannons. The Tomb Brothers were impressed. It is... difficult to bear the
admiration of the Astartes. My ears still ring from their cheering.

I spoke with their Dreadnoughts. The entomb their leaders and great warriors in those machines, forever
to lead and guide. Their Chapter Master, Lord Munkar, saw the Emperor. Throne, he saw the Emperor.
Ten thousand years of service is almost beyond imagining. It was like communing with a saint.

One hundred beam cannons and power packs. In return, a crusade. One hundred Marines, lead by a
Dreadnought. Three months (from commencement of hostilities), in the Far Expanse. Our target: the ever-
present Orks. We would shatter their local domains, and prevent them from ever threatening our new-
founded colony.

Of course, we would need the support of more than a company of Marines, even if some of them carried
our cannons. For this reason, after four months of thumb-twiddling, diplomacy, and looting, we left
Idumea for Scintilla.

43
On the way, we stopped by a few nearby worlds and sent messages to several others. The Blade had
picked up the Chartists on Samson IV; I saw no need to go there. I sent a message to Clove, another grand
Imperial world announcing that I had a large number of suitable recruits for the Guard. Simultaneously, I
sent a message to their Governor of Clove, requesting troops for my crusade. Though it would take a year
or so for the full training and shipping process, we would have our recruits in the Expanse at no additional
expense. Provided, of course, we had a crusade for them to fight.

After all, we didn‟t need all the helots that we‟d left behind. Let‟s see: 41 million, less 6 million in the
transports (roughly), less, oh, let‟s say 12 million to guard and disassemble Lathe Six gives us...

TECH-PRIEST!

23 million soon-to-be-Guardsmen. Not too shabby, if I may say so myself. Of course, they might make
them go fight on Tranch. If they try that, I will end the Tranch war myself. From orbit.

Our next port of call was the wondrous world of Hredin. Big Astropathic relay station. With a hefty bribe
or three, we got ourselves a replacement Astropath, and two more for the colony. By ancient law, the
Olivares Astropaths must be five, and each must be no more or less than a hand taller than the last. It‟s a
curious law; the Transcended were quite miffed when I brought a roll measure to the interview. Large
piles of gold mollified them.

I decided to make an impromptu stop at Perinetus. Aside from Scintilla, and possibly Port Wander,
Perinetus boasts the Sector‟s largest docks and shipyards. Pooling our resources, the Mechanicus factions
and I were able to convince their forges to build an orbital dock for us. If I was to make Ultionis into the
heart of a new Sector, I would need some sort of orbital base. Thought it would take them at best a full
decade, I was willing to wait. After all, one cannot rush craftsmanship.

We entered Scintillan orbit. I believe we caused quite a stir. Dray had gone on ahead, both to announce us
and to pick up the remnants of the land-bound Olivares clan. My family had been reduced to near
poverty: only a single minor spire, and less than a dozen retainers! They even had to share the same
hover-car! While I might despise them for their decadent ways, family is family. All those who wanted a
berth and position in my colony were given it. Anyone who didn‟t wasn‟t worth fussing over.

The first order of business was to speak with the Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Jozeph Liftman. Our
discussion hardly bears commitment to record. By the terms of my Warrant, the Navy must provide
support to a war I declare, provided such war has a just cause. I have listed the ships they loaned me at the
commencement of this record. They are all fine ships, and, through a lucky accident of paperwork, I don‟t
have to pay for them! Yes, some scribe slipped up, and the “victualling and support” costs shall be taken
on by the Navy. I thank them for their generosity.

Our next stop was the grand office of Lord Sector Hax. It was a slight miracle to gain an audience: my
late great-uncle Stephano had booked one some decades previous and we happened to arrive in time. Of
course, the interview would be brief: I am not one to trouble Lord Sectors unduly.

I had the Magos drive me by groundcar to the Lucid Palace. The main arterials were unusually clogged as
we approached the main promenade, and the Magos reported some manner of civilian protest up ahead.
We approached cautiously, and me enormous intuitive sense of the recidivist lead me to conclude that we
were faced with not one, but two factions.

The first faction was the most identifiable. The vast majority had dyed their hair green for some reason,
and they were chanting slogans which I took to be anti-emigration or anti-export. The better-dressed and
equipped faction, with no defining uniform or colouration, opposed them. Though both protests were for
the moment peaceful, a black phalanx of Arbites waited at the top of the steps of the Lucid Palace. I
would soon find out why they were not dispersing the growing crowds.

44
I should mention now that I was accompanied not only by the Magos and his servo-skulls chorus, but also
by the Archbishop Pronitnit Flanivan the Seventh, who had decided to leave his chapel once again. We
walked up the steps, or rather, the Magos and I walked, while the Archbisop spun his wheels, chipped the
marble, and was pushed by his attendant clerics. His armour-plated wheels scored great gouges in the
grey stone: I must remember to apologize for that.

In any case, the Arbites let us pass without incident. Lord Hax was, unfortunately, occupied in his office,
but that did not hinder me. I ignored his scribbling scribes and fawning attendants and strode purposefully
towards him.

The Lord Sector was lamenting the crowd outside, and cursing the difficulty of “blasted colonists”. With
a flourish, I offered to solve his problem, should he but name it.

He was startled, to be sure, but he did relate the problem at hand. Normally, a high official such as he
would not bother with such trifles, but the protesters were interrupting his thoughts with their chanting. It
would seem the green-haired citizens were newly raised colonists destined for some Forgeworld, rebelling
at their lot. The other protesters were bound for a different world, but the transports for all were grounded
by some form of sabotage.

He could not have them all shot, much as he would like, because it would be a waste of ammunition and a
stain on the peace of the Lucid Palace. Yet, they would not leave or listen to reason or authority. Hence:
tension.

I offered the Lord Sector a wager. If I could remove all of the pre-colonists from the Hive within a day, I
would be free to take those not bound for the Forgeworld (namely, the “loyalists”). Should I fail, I would
give him a beam cannon of his very own, engraved in silver and encrusted with rare gems. He agreed.

The landing ground where the three great ships for the colonists was not far from Sibellius, but it was too
far to walk. I therefore asked the Lord Sector if I could borrow his authority as Hive Governor for but a
moment. Before he could nod assent, I had the Tech-Priest locate and patch into the Hive vox-broadcast
net, usually reserved for emergencies. But was this not an emergency?

On the authority of the Governor, I ordered all flight-capable vehicles to the nearest landing pads, there to
pick up colonist to take to the landing fields. All those who complied would receive a glass of amnesac
from my personal stores (something of a lie). All those who declined would be shot (a bluff).

We needed to move a mere thirty thousand citizens: hardly a major problem. I had all three of my large
cargo-landers doing runs as well, and a few Argus took their turns. It was quite an operation: I am told
that nearly every pilot in the Hive was airborne at one time or another.

There remained the issue of convincing the reluctant colonists to embark on these transports. Knowing
that most were pious, if a little unnerved and flighty. Therefore, the first cargo-lander brought with it a
single Tomb Brother. I do not exaggerate when I say that every protestor fell silent when he walked
among them. I heard hardly a grumble, such is the power of the presence an Angel of the Emperor.

The Astartes, Nakir, was quite a pleasant conversationalist, unlike some of his bretheren. We talked of
campaigns and void-tactics as we watched the masses loaded and flown. I had the Magos prepare a de-
lousing and inspection station for “our” compliment of colonists: the others were destined for helotry or
servitor-hood, if not for the starch-vats. A few lice would hardly do them harm, but I wanted my colonists
powdered, inspected, and prepared.

We had a sort of refugee camp going on the landing pads. The great ships... Oh, I should explain those
ships. Big, single-use transports. They‟re designed to take off from one world, putter through the warp,
and drop onto another, never to rise again. They‟re packed to the bilges with supplies and prefab shelters.

45
Ten thousand colonists per transport. Quite an efficient system. Of course, they needed to be towed by
another, larger ship, as they lacked any sort of Navigation. Also, some saboteur had poured corpse-starch
into the promethium lifter-rocket tanks. Until they were scrubbed, the landers were grounded.

But I had other concerns. While the Magos and his small army of servitors scrubbed and polished, I was
busy ferrying down all the reserve stores of grog from the Janx Family brewery aboard my ship. It still
wouldn‟t be enough, so I dispatched a cargo-lander to purchase the entire stock of a large distillery in
Sibelius. I added some cheap flavouring and distributed it to the pilots as amnesac. It was well received.

We had less than half the colonists loaded when the Magos reported trouble. A large number of riotous
persons were marching from the Hive towards the landing fields under cover of darkness. Though they
appeared to be quite agitated, most were unarmed. Apparently, the families and friends of those being
sent to the Forgeworld were less than pleased with my efforts. To make matters worse, the replacement
fuel for the transports had yet to arrive. We were about to be overrun by some fifty thousand belligerents.

The issue of the fuel bears further discussion. We had the contaminated material pumped out and sold to
some unscrupulous underhive dealers, then had new fuel purchased by the Governor. The profit helped to
pay for the vast quantities of alcohol distributed. After all, we were providing the labour to scrub the fuel
tanks.

Oh, but I‟m rambling. We were about to be overrun. Besides the Magos, myself, two armsmen, three
pilots, and a few medicae and scribes we had... no defense. Oh, we had the Space Marine, but he had
wandered off to talk to the civilians and I wasn‟t about to stop him. Besides, he was unarmed.

As the mob approached, I voxed the Lord Sector and asked for advice. He said that I was given free reign,
provided the quota of colonists was met. I thanked him, and climbed into the nearest cargo lander.

The perimeter fence had already been smashed, and the tide of people was surging in. The loyalist faction,
that is, those not bound for the Forgeworld, were forming some sort of defensive barrier around their
ship‟s entrances. It appeared to be a standard Guard tactic, and my hypothesis was further confirmed
when a few of them broke out lasguns and pistols. We were lucky to have ten thousand ex-Guard on our
side. It‟s a pity they were unarmed.

I grabbed one of them on my way to the lander, and had him help me. I rigged up a series of hoses from
the half-empty barrels of rotgut, and he helped me pour and aim the flow. Then, we lit it. Our impromptu
flying flamethrower was quite effective, most of the mob fled. Stubber fire from the landers helped.

I noticed that the Magos was having a good time smashing green-haired rioters with his axe. He had
amassed quite a pile of them when the riot subsided. By clever manoeuvring of our flame, we had pushed
most of the recidivists into the only cover available: the two unguarded ships. I had the Magos vox-
command the hatches closed, and, to prevent escape. I‟m sure we had more than the required ten-
thousand aboard. To further confuse them, and to extinguish all smouldering, I had the Magos deploy the
fire-suppressant foam.

A few minutes later, and with some emergency negotiation and recapture of the drivers, the fuel arrived.
The Astartes joined us soon after: the rioters had broken wherever he walked. While the Magos assisted
with the refuelling, I spoke with the ex-Guardsmen, and thanked them for their help in quelling the riots.

The colonists were the survivors of a former penal division, and had fought all over the sector. However,
their time of service had come to an end, and they, to a man, had volunteered to found a new colony.
They were politically undesirable for various reasons: their commander, for instance, had once been an
understudy in an infamous and defamed Opera, for which he had been sentenced to a term as a
Guardsman. I thanked them for their help, explained my plans for my colony, and then had the ships
launched into orbit. The bodies of the fallen were burnt by incendiary weapons.

46
We left orbit soon after. Lord Sector Hax was pleased, to a certain degree. Hive commerce had been
disrupted to some extent true, but I had won the bet handily. The ex-Guard would make an excellent PDF,
and their prefab ship, which was quite large, would make a useful colony building.

I had the Bane tow the ship, and we made best speed for the Maw. Of course, what with the new arrival of
the cruiser escort wing, it took much longer than I expected. We arrived at Port Maw a month later, and it
took us another full month to cross the Maw itself.

At Footfall, we collected the Rozencrantz and crewed her, we set out for Ultionis. The warp route needed
to be plotted exactly, so I am ashamed to say it took us another month to make a journey I could have
managed in a week. Ah well, such delays are the price of progress.

Perhaps a bit of a description of the Ultionis system and the worlds therein.

Ultionis is a red star, still bright, but fading slowly. Closest to her heat is a little crisp of a world I‟ve
called Penance. No mineral wealth, no real items of interest. Too small to be worth a second look.

Next is Ultio, the garden world. Grasslands and oceans, with a few rocky spires closer to the equator. The
atmosphere is quite rich, and the Magos Biologis has yet to find any sign of pathogens.

Oh, didn‟t I mention him? We picked him up from some impressively forgettable Agri-World, promoted
him, and set him loose. He and the Magos are getting along famously.

Flora: I‟ve already said. Grass. Lots of it. Tall stuff, and bright green. Grows everywhere. Explodes when
exposed to high psyker activity. I‟m still determining how best to profit from it.

Fauna: Big sauropods. Four huge scarred legs, big oval body. Little tail, little head with a big trunk. The
trunk is bladed and sucks up the grass at an alarming rate. I‟m going to call them Rorquals. I wonder how
they taste.

Something likes their flavor, apparently. We‟ve only spotted them at night, but it‟s got me worried. Big,
flat, flying things. Lots of claws and teeth. The smallest we‟ve seen is the size of an Aquila. Between a
dozen of them, they can carry off one of the Rorquals. I‟m calling them Nightrays, and shooting the first
one that comes near the colony sites. Those things make Carnodons look like kittens.

We‟re putting the colonies in the middle of the grasslands, and expanding outwards. We‟ve already got
some test plots for crops ready, and it remains to be seen whether the climate will hold its present pleasant
course.

Some rocky debris separates the inner and outer systems. Past the ring, the only feature of note is the
grand pair of gas giants Ix and Xi (damn those Tech-Priests). The Forgeworld will be set up on the
mineral-rich moon of Xibix. (really, why did I let the Magos name anything?)

We‟ve also had the Tech-Priest being work on a city/spaceport in the rocky spires of Ultio. I shall call it
Stephansport, and it will be the capitol of the system. We‟ve also landed a few of the planetary defence
lasers.

While all this was going on, I was scouting nearby systems with Dray in the Envenomed Blade. The first
two systems we encountered were either empty or dead, but the third had Orks in abundance. We
retreated, met the fleet, and swapped ships. Together, we bombarded the everliving tar out of the Orks.
Their ships were cut apart by concentrated lance fire, and their half-completed Rok was destroyed by a
lucky torpedo hit. Apparently, the Orks had left a thermal exhaust port open, which allowed The
Emperor’s Judgement to one-shot the Rok from halfway across the system.

47
As the unnamed planet‟s atmosphere caught fire and everything burnt, we were ambushed by a single Ork
raider. We had it vastly outgunned, and it could barely scratch the Will. I was, to be frank, bored, so the
Magos and I, along with the Space Marines, made our way to the Teleportarium. The Space Marines,
eager to test the new beam cannons, would go over first and cripple the engines and guns, while the
Magos, two armsmen, and I would take the bridge.

I spoke with their Master, the Dreadnought Dardail, the Wanderer. He bears a great hammer, its head
made from the same Terran stone as the Emperor‟s grand palace. He seemed eager to fight, though he and
his brethren moved with a sort of sadness.

The Magos and I teleported last. The bridge was a crude affair, a portholed cylinder crudely attached to
the top of the ship. The armsmen slaughtered the lesser crew, while I charged the Kaptin. He charged
back, swinging a great power-axe. Though his clumsy blows missed me, my slashes did him little harm.
After duelling our way around the bridge (twice), I realized that the armsmen, successful though they
were, had accidentally damaged the portholes. It would but moments before void rushed in to claim the
air.

I shouted for the armsmen to retreat to a lower deck, while the Magos tossed me a void-suit and attempted
to distract the brawling Ork. Though his piston-enhanced frame leant him great strength, the brutal Ork
tossed him aside as if he were a small child. Luckily, I had my voidsuit buckled when the porthole blew a
moment later. The Magos anchored himself with his mechandendrites, I used my new-installed grapple,
and the Ork dug his hand into the deck-plating.

Seconds later, the grav-plating failed. We drifted upwards and continued to fight. The Ork showed no
sign of fatigue due to the void: I really loathe Orks. Discarding his axe, he grabbed me by the arms and
smashed his thick skull against my faceplate. If the Magos hadn‟t intervened and cut the Ork‟s arms off, I
would have been in real trouble. We secured the Kaptin‟s skull and hat.

The Marines had cleared the ship with remarkable efficiency. We set charges and hurtled it into the planet
before having the Navigator retrace its probable course. We dropped into the system a week later, only to
discover that it was full of Orks. Three worlds, several Roks, and they had even hollowed out the second
planet‟s moon!

Well, we didn‟t have the strength to fight them on their own terms, so I invented my own. While the Navy
engaged and distracted the Orks in the outer system, I, in the Will, would go to silent running and circle
the second planet‟s moon. The Magos‟ long-range scans indicated that the moon was honeycombed with
caverns and tunnels. We would teleport to a large radiation source, probably a reactor of some sort, and
set charges, before retreating. The resulting explosion would, by all rights, damage or collapse the moon,
and reign fiery death on the planet below.

Our plan was so suicidal that even the gallant Angels of Death declined to participate. That was probably
for the best, come to think of it. Bolter fire is quite... exuberant, and we were going to be setting delicate
explosives in a cavern full of more explosives.

I had the Magos take the other groundcar out of storage and loaded it onto the Teleportarium pad. The
moment time and place agreed, we teleported over.

The cavern was quite large, and full of ammunition. Macrocannon shells crowded for space with piles of
bolt rounds, loose clips, and all manner of esoteric weaponry. In the centre of the grand pile was some
sort of reactor, and the edges of the cavern had a few titanic atmosphere cylinders.

Oh, and there were Orks. Lots and lots of Orks.

48
We hit the ground with tires spinning. The Magos jumped off and ran for the reactor, while I spun the car
around and attempted to draw the Orks away. My erratic driving style seemed to keep them occupied, as,
after a few wild turns and some impromptu pistol use, I spotted the Magos clipping the bulky explosives
about halfway up the reactor. He seemed to be having some trouble: the little greenskins, Grots, I think,
were climbing after him.

I tossed my pack of explosives overboard, with the timer set for one minute, and drove the groundcar up a
nearby ramp... made of explosives and bullets. In the low gravity, the car sailed beautifully, and the
Magos jumped on. The Teleportarium‟s eldritch energies scooped us up a moment later. I must admit they
left it a tad late: we were very nearly singed by the explosion.

The reactor‟s detonation damn near split the moon in half. We left the system at best speed, firing
broadsides as we went, and dodging chunks of moon and planet. We‟re planning on returning to Ultionis
before setting out again, to check on the progress of the colony in our absence. I hope nothing unfortunate
has happened to them.

49
Chapter the Tenth
Dropping out of warp to the sight of three battleships is quite an experience. One sobers up quickly.

We entered the Ultionis system unescorted, as our suicidal attack on the moon had left us out of position.
The fleet had arrived before us, and met with a second, much larger Imperial fleet.

It would seem that someone in a position of power was looking out for my interests. The 129th Crusade
Fleet, consisting of three battleships, a few light cruisers, innumerable escorts, and dozens of troop
transports and cargo haulers was in system. Apparently, the fleet had been gathered from all parts of the
Segmentum, and was supposed to be sent against some other sector‟s problem. An unknown hand,
however, had diverted it into the Expanse.

The entire issue was complicated by two matters. First, we had received a garbled Astropathic
transmission from Inquisitor Torqk, indicating that we were not to trust... someone. We think he meant
High Commodore Noughtingham, but the transmission was very garbled indeed. In any case, I wasn‟t
going to trust the good Commodore any more than necessary.

The second complication arose directly from the Commodore and his bevy of Captains. They wished to
use my planet as a staging area and communications outpost for their crusade. I gladly agreed. The tithes
would help build the cities and the grand agri-plateaus, not to mention enrich mine own coffers. I had the
Tech-Priests remove and replace the warp-altered metal casings of as many warp engines as possible.
This metal would, or so the Magos told me, form the core of our new beam cannons. The supply we
accrued would keep the forges running for many years, once the forges were actually built.

I will briefly describe High Commodore Noughtingham. While he technically holds the rank of Rear
Admiral, his family carries the hereditary title of High Commodore, and he prefers to use that rank in
formal conversation. His naval successes are, in a word, underwhelming. He holds his rank through a
combination of naval inertia and staggering bribes. I have it on good authority that his officers are the real
power behind the command throne, and that his orders are often ignored or overridden from below. Such
incompetence does not bode well for the crusade.

He is a corpulent man of ill-disguised desires, and he reeks alternately of cologne and sweat. His
augumentic enhancements are quite well made, but are mostly devoted to the support of his failing flesh.
His Captains are, at least, the pinnacle of Navy breeding, meaning that they are dull while sober and
incomprehensible while drunk.

His party was quite lavish, and I had a good time meeting all his officers and the other Captains. He
agreed to attack the Orks wherever he found them, to purge Chaos in all its forms. More importantly, he
agreed to interdict any human or pre-Imperial systems, as well as any Xenos worlds that were not overtly
hostile. As the local Rogue Trader of rank, I would be granted first access, the better to understand (and
possibly purge) the systems in question.

The Tomb Brothers agreed to move their operations to the fleet‟s flagship, the battleship Cardinal Boras.
We would take the Blade, the Bane, and the Will as an independent wing, for some other matters were
competing for my interest. But first, I should mention the hunting expedition that the Commodore and I
both enjoyed.

It was the day after the party aboard the Cardinal Boras, and my head ached. Damn that Quaddis liquor!
The Janx family‟s special “donation” to the party didn‟t help either. I had, I vaguely recalled, invited the
Commodore to a hunting expedition on Ultio the next morning. We met him at the largest colony site, and
in a converted hovercar, set out to look for something to shoot.

50
The grand Rorquals were not on the menu, for fear of stampede or explosion. We would instead be
targeting the flying Nightrays, who, the Magos suspected, were asleep in the grass during the day.

The expedition was a near-total failure. The Commodore was accompanied by sixteen guardsmen, the
better to carry trophies. They were killed within minutes, not by the Nightrays, who flew off, but by a
hitherto unknown jumping carnivore the size of a hunting canine. The damn things hunt in packs of
twenty or more, and apparently ambush the Nightrays as they doze during the day. They did not shy away
from hunting humans in the tall grass, and we were beset with them almost instantly.

The Commodore ran back to the hovercar (or rather, was carried by his mount-servitor), while the Magos
slaughtered the attackers by the dozens. I was knocked prone repeatedly by the strange beasts, which
made it difficult to fight. The Magos terrified them, and they fled from his ichor-soaked axe. Through the
mystical art of electricity, he had stunned two of them, and we brought them to the hovercar. Luckily,
there were two sturdy boxes onboard, and the Magos stowed them securely. The Commodore was slightly
pacified when we gave him one of the beasts as a gift or trophy of the failed hunt.

In form, the beasts are quite curious. They have a roughly square and four curved legs, one on each
corner. They lack a head and any visible means of sight, but have a sissor-like jaw on the bottom of their
body. Their preferred method of attack is to jump and descend on their victim, slicing off a chunk of flesh
or a limb, and then bounding away again. I have decided to name them Dropwolves. We are trying to
train one as a beast of war, but it is quite difficult. The trainer has lost two fingers and a foot already.
A few hours later, I received an astropathic message from “the Council”. Apparently, they were having a
meeting in a few month‟s time, and I was invited to attend. I was surprised, but internecine competition is
apparently encouraged within the Council‟s ranks, even if it results in the death of one of the members.
Maximillain von Caius‟ death was unfortunate, but, apparently, it wasn‟t worth kicking me out over so
minor a disagreement. They were meeting, again, at the Hermitage.

We left the Rosencrantz at Ultionis, along with the Mechanicus ships and their escorts. The two Navy
detachments departed just before we did, heading deeper into the Expanse. The Will, Bane, and Blade
would make best possible speed for Footfall.

Navigating the warp is a tricky business. The Navigator informed me that we had to drop into reality to
realign, and so we chose a desolate area of the deep void and re-entered realspace. Before the warp-
shuttered were even raised the collision alarm blared its dolorous tones. The chief auspex officer spoke
one word: Kraken.

I may be paranoid, but I had, in fact, prepared for such a day. I met four of the astropaths, three armsmen
(with a stubber), the Magos and his servo-skull at the nearest launch bay. I also brought along some tools,
a lascutter, and, on a hunch, the strange beacon given to us by the AI of that accursed planet. We piled
into an Argus, told the escorts to keep their distance, and ordered the engines to full power.

We were, I believe, the first aboard to get a good look at the Kraken. A titanic cephalopod, with enormous
rasping tentacles and a maw that gleamed with atomic fire, the Kraken was clawing at the stern of our
ship. The Magos estimated that the main body of the squid was 3.5 km long, and the longest tentacles
were at least 5 km.

The Magos suggested we aim for the Kraken‟s eye. On either side of the gargantuan head, some sort of
compound detectors or sensor domes protruded. While the biology of a void-beast is vastly different from
that of planetary creatures, the Magos suspected and I concurred that the beast‟s eyes must somehow be
connected to its brain. If we could find the equivalent of the optic nerve and follow it, we could access the
brain of the great creature.

51
Of course, things are rarely that easy. As the Kraken grappled with my ship, we landed on the edge of the
eye. The surface was coated with some sort of sticky viscous fluid, but we swam through it in our void-
suits. It was, in a word, disgusting.

The Magos‟ prediction was correct, and some sort of nerve lead into the interior of the Kraken. It was
made of fine crystal, and coated in a very durable layer of adamantium/nickel alloy strands. We accessed
the nerve via lascutter, and then crawled along it towards the centre of the beast. Beneath us, the crystal
nerve pulsed with flickering light.

After several hundred metres of crawling, the Magos spotted something moving further along the nerve.
He postulated that the Kraken had some manner of internal defence, and that such a defence force would
be inimical to human life. We fired as they charged us, but the thick... atmosphere... prevented our shots
from having full effect. One got through, and slaughtered two armsmen I mannered to put it down. They
were strange creatures, amorphous and vicious. They had multiple eyes, and three primary rending limbs,
and were very single-minded in combat.

The Kraken‟s brain, when we reached it, proved entirely incomprehensible to the Astropaths. It was a vast
labyrinth of crystal and lightning, lit only by our lumen-globes and the flash of the Kraken‟s slow
thoughts. The Magos suspected that he could interfere with bits of it using his own techno-sorcery, but
was wary of putting his theory to the test.

The Astropaths indicated that there was some sort of psychic disturbance further... aft? Blast it, I‟m no
Magos Biologis! What do you call the ass-end of a Kraken that you‟re inside?

In any case, we crawled along nerves and other horrible things until we got there. The Magos, ever
cogitating, deduced that this was the Kraken‟s organ for detecting ships. Unlike the other components of
the Kraken, this organ appeared to be mostly biological, and it pulsed with faint witch-light. The psykers
couldn‟t make heads or tails of it. Why did I bring them along? They‟re useless! I must remember to dock
their pay.

The Magos, however, continues to frustrate me with his competence. In less than twenty minutes he had
produced, using the tracking beacon, parts from the tool box, and I believe some of his own components,
the Magos produced the device I commanded.

Perhaps I should explain why we had gone into the Kraken in the first place. While it would have been a
most efficient way of killing it, beast-slaying was not our goal. We were here to get a weapon. The device
the Magos constructed would, when activated by a similar psychic remote aboard His Invincible Will,
summon the Kraken to the pulse‟s location. An 8km long kraken (which moved, the Magos was pleased
to announce, through gravatic warp-skimming), is a terrifying weapon. The main problem with such a
weapon is that it is rather indiscriminate, and, being called to our ship, likely to backfire.

In any case, the Magos, diligent as ever, produced the device, covered it in the creature‟s own metallic
flesh (to prevent easy removal or detection), and we departed. We had lost the third armsman in a battle
with more of the internal defence creatures, but were unmolested by them as we crawled down to the
optic nerve. The Magos disrupted the nerve signals to what he thought was the tentacles, hopefully
allowing our ship to escape, and then we fled.

We were pursued by more internal defence creatures, but escaped unharmed. Once on the surface of the
eye, we spotted His Invincible Will tumbling away from the Kraken. Magos Robertson‟s efforts had
allowed her to break free, but put her out of our reach. We rendezvoused with the Blade, before catching
up and powering out of system. The Kraken gave up pursuit after a few thousand kilometres.

52
The beast‟s efforts had caused considerable damage to the ship. We limped into Footfall and put her in
drydock. Unfortunately, our credit is not what it once was in that ill-reputed port, and we could not
purchase materials out of pocket. To raise funds for the repair, we captured two pirate vessels leaving
Footfall, released their crews, and broke the raiders down for parts. One was too badly hulked to be much
use, and was sold a real-estate, for grav-plating and life-sustainers are always in demand in Footfall.

It would have been prohibitively expensive to refit the other ship, so we used the engine tubes and other
components to replace the ones the Kraken had gnawed off and sold the rest to other bidders and to pay
off the labour and docking fees. We also restocked our ships consumables, and reloaded all cannons. All
told, it took four months to fully recover.

During that time, besides performing innumerable shipboard and diplomatic duties, I also produced and
directed a video-play of my exploits. The Magos had recorded the footage, of course, and combined with
a few “artistic liberties” and some unnecessary subplots (forbidden romance with a bridge officer, a
scheming traitor in the ranks, etc, etc) it made an excellent film. Of course, we faked the explosion of the
Kraken at the end, and bribed anyone who knew it was still alive. I titled it "Krakenslayer", and it is now
the most popular film in Footfall. When I export it to Scintilla it will make me both infamous and
wealthy.

The Council is by far the least competent conspiracy I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. Really,
it‟s like being a member of the Sedentary Circumlocution Club of Scintilla. I was half expecting a list of
charitable donations to be on the minutes. The doughy Lord Otto of Pranch was, once again, officiating,
and peppered his speech with arching metaphors. The Duke of Blood and Bandershand Flood were both
there, The Council‟s primary plan, which I shall set down here, was divulged in this meeting and in my
conversation with “Rogue Trader” Flood.

Despite their benign and ineffectual exterior, the Council‟s plan was quite cunning. They would have
used the warp-gate torpedos of the giant world discovered by von Caius and destroyed by me to control
passage into the Expanse. Then, with the aid of several new-founded colony worlds, they would take the
Expanse for themselves. They would declare independence from the Imperium, rise to positions of
enormous power, and rule an entire sector with heretical power.

Luckily, I had entirely disrupted the first part of the plan, though they did not know it. The second phase,
involving the creation of dozens of colony worlds and the capturing of others, was more troubling. My
own foothold in the Expanse was at risk. To make matters worse, I suspect that the Commodore or one of
his senior officers is either sympathetic to or employed by the Council.

The third phase of the plan was most worrying. Though I was not yet trusted enough to receive the
details, Lord Otto referred to it as the “Harvest”, and it somehow involved the warp-storms of the
Expanse.

After the meeting (which, as I have said, was rather dull), I spoke alone with Flood. As it turns out, Rogue
Trader Flood is also an operative of Inquisitor Torqk. Though he was irritated by my righteous murder of
the von Caius family (as it threw his machinations into disarray), he and I both agreed to work together to
bring the Council down.

My traditional strategy of “kill them all, and the God-Emperor will know his own” wouldn‟t work too
well in this case. The current leaders of the Council were the descendants of the (presumably more
competent) founders. They had people everywhere: in the Inquisition, the Administratum, and, of course,
the Navy. The commanders were incompetent, but their agents were highly motivated and well organized.
Merely destroying the council would leave the major heresy intact.

53
Our plans were interrupted when I received yet another urgent astropathic summons. This time, my
holdings in Footfall required my attentions on a delicate matter, and I left the fuming Interrogator Flood
behind.

My agents were loath to discuss the particulars of the matter via Astropath, but it would seem that many
Rogue Traders are gathering at Footfall. I know that the Duke of Blood was going in that direction.
Perhaps we will come to conflict in the near future.

54
Chapter the Eleventh
Why is it always witches? If it‟s not witches, it‟s Eldar, and since all Eldar are witches that‟s actually
worse! And what the hell did the Tech-Priest bid anyway? But I again exceed my own description, and
must backtrack.

Footfall is a damnable and deadly port. We docked, paid two different sets of customs officials, and set
out for our new-attached apartment-ship. The journey was not uneventful. First, we met four Kroot
mercenaries, who were willing to offer their services as bodyguards or guides. Though I had no need of
protection, I gladly traded a clip of bodyblower rounds (with each round worth 100 throne gelt), to the
Kroot in exchange for, well, conversation. I traded a second clip for one of their strange weapon-staves.

The Kroot are a curious race. I do not think they are native to the Expanse, but travellers from some far
empire. They are carrion-eaters, and, if I understood them correctly, occasionally take the best
characteristics of their prey for themselves. Their language is quite difficult, but they speak Low Gothic
well. I‟m getting the hang of the accent, but the whistling confuses me every time.

We were also insulted by passers-by, whom we ignored, threatened by armed gangs, whom the Kroot
killed, and observed my mysterious cloaked figure, who fled and disabled the Magos‟ servo-skull with a
strange EMP grenade. I suspect, with no way to confirm it, that our watcher was an Eldar. No other race
moves that fast.

In any case, we met with our representatives on Footfall. They indicated that there was some manner of
trouble afoot. Apparently, the Seven Witches of Footfall, mad sorcerous crones of indeterminate age and
providence, were due to reveal the location of the “legendary treasure planet, the Dread Pearl”.

Now, I had never heard of this damn planet. The last time we investigated a “treasure ship”, it was full of
demons, so I was slightly wary. But if other Rogue Traders were interested, I‟d be damned if I didn‟t want
a slice of the moke-cake.

Of course, the location of the witches was unknown. I decided to try and find information in Footfall.
While en-route to the docks, we were once again surrounded by thugs. I had their leader utterly
bamboozled when a servo-skull wandered over and killed him. At first, I blamed the Tech-Priest, but it
wasn‟t his fault for once.

No, the servo-skull belonged to a Tantaus Moross, Liege of Footfall. While Winterscale is the most
powerful Trader in port (theoretically), it is the Liege who runs Footfall (theoretically). The man was
mostly agumentics. He and the Tech-Priest got along famously.

He invited us to a dinner in our honour, an invitation I was glad to accept. The other guests were low-life
muscle and scum dressed in a mix of fashion. Their ill-bred understanding of “high cuisine” meant most
of the dishes were inedible. The Tech-Priest had a soup that was, I believe, promethium mixed with bits
of ground glass. As he runs on promethium and has a mouth like a grinder, I think he did it to refuel.

I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed the brain-fluke in Ork spinal fluid. I must remind the Janx family to
distribute some of their “green” ales to the nobles here. I suspect that they will fetch a fine price. The live
Dolorium Throat-Crab, on the other hand, was a bit of a trial. I am sorry to admit I vomited copiously all
over some minor functionary. I was trying to hit the Duke of Blood, who was also in attendance, but
missed.

55
In a whirlwind of charm, ticket distribution, bribery, intimidation, and more charm I discovered that
someone was going to be making money off the Witches‟ prophecy. There was to be an auction, at an
undetermined location and time. The winners would receive one of ten places to hear the Foretelling. The
losers would leave empty-handed.

As we had no information on the auction‟s location or time, we decided to return to the ship. Once again,
we were waylaid. Six narco-gangers and two mutants ambushed us, but the Tech-Priest‟s bolter killed
three, blew the arm off another, and scattered the rest. There must be some defect with Footfall‟s life-
sustainer, as the people here are suicidally stupid.

We interrogated the survivor before the Tech-Priest nailed his corpse to a lumen-post as a warning to his
friends. He babbled most freely at the end. Said he was hired by Rogue Trader Krawkin Feckward. The
good Trader wanted his rivals eliminated before the auction. The auction was tonight, at the Obsidian
Emporial, the auction-house of Footfall.

Captain Feckward, or, as I will now refer to him, Captain Fuckwad, is a notorious slaver and pirate. I
knew he was in Footfall, and that he would probably be attending the auction. Killing him publically
might be unwise, so I decided to wait.

The sound of further gunfire distracted me. Reasoning that it might be more incompetent assassins, we
ran towards the source. We ran into a street in time to see a groundcar with Sun Lee‟s heraldry on it drive
past, pursued by another groundcar. The pursuers were firing wildly with autoguns. I ordered the Tech-
Priest to stop their car.

He did so by standing in the middle of the road and hitting the car with his servo-arm. It flipped over him,
crashed, and burned. The front bumper stuck to his head. A second groundcar drove through the smoke,
pursuing Sun Lee. I hit the driver and gunner with a bolt round each. The pursuit neutralized, Sun Lee
stopped the car.

While maintain a haughty air, I could tell she was impressed by our aid. We relayed what information we
knew about Fuckwad‟s meddling, and she offered us a ride to the Obsidian Emporial. She, of course,
already knew of the auction‟s location and time.

The Obsidian Eporial is a rather impressive structure. No heavy weapons were allowed inside, so I had to
give up my arm, but for some reason they let the Tech-Priest in. He is a heavy weapon! The rules of the
auction were simple. The first ten accepted bids would win viewing privileges at the Foretelling. One bid
per person, and if a bid was rejected the bidder was ejected from the auction.

There were close to ten score bidders when the auction began. The first bid was ten thousand thrones,
rejected. Monetary amounts from then increased, but all were rejected. It would take too long to list all
the bidders and their bids, so I will simply mention those whose bids were accepted, for they are my
principal rivals. Some of the other bids were quite interesting, and, with the Tech-Priest recording all the
particulars, may be worth investigation at a later date. But I dissemble.

Lord Admiral Bastille bid the co-ordinates of the lost 13th Station of Passage. The Lord Admiral is
fleeing Imperial space after a brush with his former employers, the Imperial Navy. He has the largest fleet
(well, second largest, behind Winterscale) in Footfall. His flagship is the cruiser Colossus, but, of course,
he has escorts and transports. He‟s a rather stuffy and dull man with a naval baton firmly crammed up his
aft passageway.

56
Lady Charlabelle Armelan bid a Daemonette‟s toenail. How the hell does one get a Daemonette‟s toenail?
Sanctified nail-clippers? I must remember not to trust her, for such a bid implies heresy of the highest
order. Her dynasty is somewhat mysterious, based on trade and commerce, I believe. Her only ship is a
transport, implying she‟s desperate, broke, or imbecilic. She keeps the company of Kroot as well, so
perhaps she is not entirely a fool.

Sun Lee bid a vial of 500-year-old Brain Leaf essence, which, I have no doubt, is quite deadly. Her house
runs a choice selection of trade routes in the Sector, and has a fairly formidable light cruiser parked in
Footfall. Of all the Traders, she seems the most likely candidate for an alliance.

Captain Fuckwad bid, unsurprisingly, 10,000 blind slaves. This is virtually his entire current stock, and at
this point I believe I began to see the twisted logic behind the bids.

The Witches aren‟t interested in money, slaves, or poison. They want value. Whatever is bid has to be
extremely valuable to the bidder. This auction was a test of what the bidders were willing to lose. My
position worsened. All I had to bid that I would consider truly valuable was my cruiser, and I would lose
my life before I lost my ship. I bid a bottle of fine Quaddis wine anyway, and it was rejected. I rely on the
Tech-Priest‟s recording from here.

Abel Gerrit bid next, winning his place with the Palace of Moonlight. I‟m not sure what exactly that is,
but it was enough to get him in. He‟s a duellist at heart, an honourable battle-scarred veteran.

Baron Scourge is a bit of a loose macrocannon, but he does have significant military might. He bid The
Brotherhood of Shadows, possibly some sort of assassins guild. I have little information on him other
hthan his propensity for world-burning.

Jerimiah Blitz bid a mummified Priest-King. He‟s a rogue and a scoundrel who won his Warrant in a
game of Mah-Jong with the Lord Sector. I should play him at some point. He might be a worthy
opponent.

The Duke of Blood had been trying to gain admittance to the auction, but his power armour and dozens of
concealed weapons, not to mention his fiery temper, kept him out until the auction house was virtually
deserted. He entered stark naked, and bid... his dignity. He pointed out that he knew the Magos was
recording the proceedings, and, if he was granted a place, would perform a thong-dance to be publically
distributed. The bid was accepted, and we are producing the vid-cast even now.

The Magos waited until the auction house was virtually deserted before announcing whatever his bid was.
I had informed him that were he to bid my ships his life would end soon after, and, as nobody has asked
for the keys, I can infer that he did not. Perhaps he bid his soul. I wouldn‟t put it past him.

The recording resumes to show the final bidder, a mysterious cloaked figure, who presents a very sharp
crystal knife. I have absolutely no information on this man. He has a bionic eye, I think, and his knife had
a some sort of inscription on it. Really, it is most perplexing.

In any case, the Magos secured us a seat. The Foretelling itself was held the next day in a disused section
of Footfall. I was invited as the Magos‟ “guest”, a position I did not relish. My hexagrammic armour
sparked as we approached the den of the witches.

Their lair was more of a sanatorium, though it was far from restful. The floors and walls were coated in
all manner of excretions, and the witches‟ keepers were stained as well. The Seven Witches were
shadowy figures, connected by all manner of tubes and flanges. They cackled and ranted and gibbered, as
the damned are wont to do.

57
They spat out a bit of nonsensical prophecy before psychically transferring the location of the Dread Pearl
to all assembled. Only the Magos, ironically, was unaffected, as he lacks most of his organic brain. The
visceral impact of the vision drove many of us to our knees, and a few of the less well-versed collapsed,
vomiting.

The Dread Pearl is a world due to be revealed by a receding warp-storm. I know its location, and all that
remains is to get there... first.

58
Chapter the Twelfth
I knew the Eldar are a treacherous race of cowards, schemers, and witches. I was not informed that they
are also rather deadly in close combat. I suppose I can credit my survival to luck, grapple-hooks, and a
lightning cannon.

But once more I have spoiled the best part of my tale, and must backtrack considerably to keep the
narrative flowing. Such a chore!

Yes, it was just after the Foretelling. Once the vision receded and I had regained my balance, I, and all the
other Rogue Traders, tore at full speed for our ships. Lady Sun Lee and Admiral Bastille called for a
teleport, as did I, while the other Traders had to make do with groundcars and sprinting.

Our earlier encounter with the brutal but moronic denizens of Footfall had prejudiced me against the crew
of the docking turrets. I suspected (and rightly so) that they would try and fire upon my ship as soon as I
attempted to leave port, and so bribed the operators of the dock‟s power generators to cut the power on a
pre-arranged signal. They did so, but forgot to disengage the clamps first. Luckily, the Magos was able to
reverse the power flow through the umbilicals and force the great clamps open. We powered out of
Footfall.

The journey into the Expanse was quite unpleasant. It took several months, and on the way we:

-were pusued (though not actively attacked) by the ghost ship of Hadark Fel.

-banished a minor daemon of the warp, with righteous fire and bolt-shell, after it did invade our ship‟s holy
sanctuaries and generatoriums

-lost a week and a half, but gained it back later all at once

-received a visit from the shade of my late great-uncle Stephano, who patted me comfortingly on the shoulder

-had unpleasant dreams continuously.

I doubled the services in the temples, and distributed discounted tickets to my film. The crew seemed to
be cheerful. I suspect the enormous amounts of treasure the Dread Pearl is said to hold motivated them, as
it motivated me.

We exited the warp off off-course and out of position, in the black depths outside star system. Our escorts
had better luck, and were close to the central planet, but it would take us a few days to reach the inner
system.

On the long journey in, the Magos detected a strange and ancient Mechanicus transmission. We diverted
to investigate, and discovered that the source was an incredibly ancient probe. The Magos informed me
that this model of probe had been abominated for the last seven millennia, due to a faulty (and far too
intelligent) machine spirit.

Nonetheless, the sphere was archeotech, and there are many within the Mechanicus who would pay dearly
for such a probe. We brought it aboard, and stowed and secured it in the fore cargo hold. The Magos
disguised its exterior, and constructed a hidden partition to conceal its blasphemous form. I ordered the
Magos to ensure the probe was both powered down and entirely shielded.

I was therefore quite annoyed to discover, several days later, that the Abominable Intelligence had
somehow transferred itself from the probe to our ship‟s core cogitator banks! I ordered the Magos, at

59
gunpoint, to remove it, but he said it would require an entire station‟s worth of processing power to
remove it by force, with considerable risk of damage.

Damn the eyes of Plan B. Robertson! Damn his damnable headtubes and noospheric ports! Damn his
bloodstained robe and his infernal bolter! Damn his axe and his thrice-accursed legion of servitors!
Damned be the ore he was smelted from and damned be the ichor in his veins!

If I find that he was somehow responsible for introducing an Abominable Intelligence into my ship‟s
systems, he will be put to the pyre, disassembled, cast into a raging star or stellar furnace, and then shot in
the head!

I WILL NOT HAVE IT ON MY SHIP! MY VESSEL IS MINE, AND NO OTHER’S!

*cough*

In any case, we had the damn thing aboard, and I was going to make money, Abominable Intelligence or
not. We picked up a convoy moving out of system a few hours later. I recognized them as the notorious
and clever Stryxis, a race of merchant travelers. We were glad to meet them for trade, and despite the
dilapidated nature and absolutely foul odour of their ships they possessed some valuables. The Stryxis, of
course, trade singularly and for trinkets, rather than in true commercial volumes. Their prices, however,
are unbeatable.

For my nose-plugs and a kraken-tooth dagger (which I now have an almost infinite supply of, thanks to
our encounter the the kraken mundanis), I received a beautiful Xenarch Death-Arc, a lightning weapon of
fearsome power, as well as a good supply of powercells for the xenos device.

The Magos, in exchange for a respirator (which he carries despite having no use for it), received a fine
stormbolter and a few clips of ammo. He is rightly pleased by his increased killing power, and I would
soon have cause to thank the Stryxis for their trading.

In exchange for some information about the system and possible dangers, I traded a dataslate containing
my film Krakenslayer. Our contact said that the system was not where the Dread Pearl resided. On the
lone inhabitable planet, there was nothing but jungle, a strange equatorial structure, and creatures with
“many legs”.

I was not amused. I suspect that the Seven Witches are playing a game with us, a long-fermented scheme
millennia in the making. Why else would the Eldar be involved?

But again, I outpace myself. We rendezvoused with the Blade and Bane, and continued in system. The
Stryxis continued out, apparently afraid of a sensor contact we picked up. We detected no other ships: our
enemies were not present, had outpaced us, were too far behind, or, more likely, cunningly hidden.

The world, Quppa-Psi-12 according to the Stryxis, was wreathed in jungle and mist. With the aid of the
ship‟s Astropaths and the Blade’s incomparable sensor array, we located the Eldar temple from orbit. We
attempted to teleport directly to the temple itself, but despite the Tech-Priest‟s best efforts we were
thrown off-course. We were a mere five kilometres from the site of interest, but we were in the middle of
a damp and putrid swamp. Five kilometres of fern jungle, teeming with ravenous beasts and all manner of
horrible and messy... things.

Of course, I did not falter. Along with two armsmen (a stubber team), we marched. After a good half-hour
stumbling around, we found our progress impeded by a raging river. While we could fort it a few hundred
metres downstream, it would delay us further, and probably would have set us against all manner of
beasts. The Magos, through the magics of magnetic levitation, would carry us all across.

60
The only problem with our plan became apparent when a great hornet-like flying beast the size of an
Aquila lander bore down upon us, teeth gnashing and stinger clearly visible. I fired a few blasts of
lightning as it closed, but did naught but superficial damage. The armsmen fired too, but, unable to
properly brace the stubber, they did little damage with their sidearms. The Magos, despite his profusion of
mechandendrites and tubes, was too occupied evading the dragon-hornet‟s sting.

We lost one armsman to a sudden turn, but his compatriot hung onto the Magos by his fingertips. I, on the
other hand, was securely fastened to the Tech-Priest by servo-arm. This became inconvenient when the
titanic dragon-hornet grabbed me with its tail. I ordered the Magos to release me before I was torn in half.

With his hands free, the Magos spun round while flying and attacked the horrible beast with his axe. He
killed it quite rapidly, and even managed to extract me before impact. We landed close to the temple, and
the Magos performed some basic medicae-protocols on me. We even managed to contact the armsman
who had fallen off! He survived his fall, and would rendezvous with us at the temple.

We were quite close, and approached the base of the great wraithbone structure without incident. In a
clearing at the base of the structure, however, we ran into our first adversary. Thirty guardsmen in
carapace armour stepped out of the jungle in a rough circle around us. Their leader; Lord Admiral
Bastille. He ordered us at gunpoint to depart, an offer which we declined. I think he may have continued
to taunt us if Madam Charlabelle and sixty-odd Kroot mercenaries hadn‟t encircled our encirclers.

She ordered the Lord Admiral to leave. He declined. They resorted to insults and taunting, while the
Magos and I simply walked towards the Temple, counting on our two rivals to distract each other.
Unfortunately, someone took a pot-shot at me. I‟m not actually sure if it was Bastille‟s guards,
Charlabelle‟s Kroot, or an Eldar sniper in the ferns, but the results were quite surprising, even if the shot
failed to harm me in any way.

The Kroot attacked Bastille‟s guards, and I decided that I would rather be on the winning side of the
engagement. Both the Magos and I opened fire on Bastille, as did Charlabelle. I personally take credit for
severing his arm at the elbow with a laspistol shot. I did not want to injure him unduly at this point, as
holding him for ransom or trade could prove advantageous.

At this point we were hit by a wave of psychic force. It carried with it a vision of worlds, the Dread Pearl,
and a web of fate. From now on, I‟m hauling an Astropath or two with me whenever I go planetside. I
grow weary of bizarre visions and unintelligible warpspawned gibbering. My armour is specifically
engraved to prevent such scenes from contaminating my mind, so it is inconvenient to be forced to bear
witness to them anyways.

Hmm, oh yes. Bastille was rolling around on the ground, clutching the smouldering stump of his arm,
when the vision hit. We were distracted enough to allow a small core of bodyguards to form around him,
and they fired on the Magos while retreating. I left the Magos to his own devices, and advanced on the
Temple. I could see six Eldar Warlocks on a formerly vacant platform, blazing with witchfire and
treachery.

I admit that my familiarity with the Eldar language is far from perfect, but I believe that I could make
myself clear given a bit of time. I was the first to reach the platform: the climb was easy due to the vines
and pliable wraithbone. I asked several polite questions of the Eldar. Three of them responded... with
force.

The Eldar are a difficult foe to fight; their psykers doubly so. I managed to evade the worst of their
attacks of witchery and blade, and stepped off the platform. I arrested my fall with my grapple, and, forty-
odd metres down, attempted to evade their fire.

61
My wonderful refractor field and armour stopped most of the shots, and I fired back with the Death-Arc
whilst descending further and swinging from side to side. Below me, the Magos had slaughtered ten
storm-troopers and was about to finish off Bastille when the coward managed to teleport out. Denied, the
Magos turned to the tower when it flickered out of reality.

Luckily, the damn thing came back. The Magos and the good Madam were both able to re-establish their
grip and continue climbing, but, unluckily, the grapple came free and I fell to the ground. My fall was
cushioned by soft ferns. The Kroot and the Bastille‟s abandoned guards continued their fight, when,
luckily, my lost armsman arrived. With his compatriot they set up a stubber team and opened fire at the
Warlocks on the top of the platform. This proved enough of a distraction for the Magos to close.

In a hail of storm-bolter shells he blew one Warlock away, while Charlabelle inadvisably charged
another. Though her attacks scored a few hits, the Warlock almost contemptuously stabbed her and tossed
her body off the platform. I fired my grapple and passed her as she fell, and barely missed grabbing her.
The Magos slew the last two Warlocks, but a fourth broke away from the circle and attacked. Deciding
discretion was the better part of valour, he descended with magnetic grace as I flew upwards.

The fourth Warlock, anticipating my attack, dodged the blast of my Death-Arc. He entirely failed to
anticipate my left hand‟s concealed Inferno Pistol. I melted him from the waist upwards, and then stepped
forward, firing at the remaining two Warlocks. Moments later, they disappeared, along with the corpses
of their fallen. Some sort of orbital teleport, or perhaps just more witchery. Cowards! I wasn‟t done yet!

The platform on which I stood, the platform the Eldar had tried so very hard to remove, was some sort of
stellar chart. It linked several worlds to the location of the Dread Pearl, though the Pearl itself was hidden
or defaced. I reasoned that by following these strands of fate we could, in theory, create our own chart as
to the Pearl‟s location. I had the Magos pict-record the chart, and prepared for teleport to orbit.

Lady Charlabelle had, surprisingly, survived her fall. We brought her and her Kroot with us to orbit, and
the Magos began some preliminary medicae work. Bastille‟s fleet fled the system.

I had all ships fire upon the Eldar structure, and reduced it to molten slag in a few hours. Unfortunately,
some of my brave or foolish rivals attempted to brave the orbital fire for a glimpse at the charts. I suspect
that the cowled and secretive bidder at the auction was the one who piloted his corvette into the
atmosphere for a closer look. Madmen!

With Madame Charlabelle conscious (and rather grateful for our assistance), we cemented our alliance,
and powered out of system. We arranged a rendezvous with Lady Sun Lee in the outskirts of the system.
It was pleasant to deal with her. We played a quite spirited game of Mah-Jong: I lost. The stakes were
mere money, and not much of it. It was more something to pass the time.

After considerable negotiation, we came to an agreement. In exchange for mutual support, the treasures of
the Dread Pearl would be split evenly between us. Madame Charlabelle, infirm of health and pitiful of
ship, would receive none of the treasure. Our combined protection and prestige would help her dynasty,
which, I discovered, was failing badly. The Grace of Sophia was the last warp-capable ship they owned.

A desperate dynasty is a dangerous thing, but her fall can be turned to our profit. I‟m sure that some sort
of trade route will be required before this voyage ends, particularly if we are going to Zayth. The great
landships there have many secrets, and there are those who would pay dearly for them. The nearest of
what I am calling the Nexus Points is apparently on Zaynth, and so we make best speed for that heathen
and warring world.

62
Chapter the Thirteenth
God-Emperor be praised, but we are in the money now! I knew there was a reason I didn‟t just have
Madame Charlabelle tossed over the side!

Yes, Zayth was a wonderful exercise in capitalism. I look forward to returning many, many times. Once
in system, it was a matter of minutes to locate the Nexus Point. It was somewhere in a deep planetary
crevasse, a former oceanic trench. We descended by shuttle to scout the area by auspex and Astropath,
but, as landing would be difficult, re-ascended and teleported down.

Sun Lee, Madame Charlabelle, a few Kroot and bodyguards, and the Magos and I all enjoyed exploring
the shadowed ruins. We were not attacked, and, after about twenty minutes, our three Astropaths (one
from each ship) had a complete reading. Apparently, it would take several more Nexus Point readings to
triangulate the location of the Dread Pearl. Damnably inconvenient, to be sure, but if such a thing is
necessary...

Unfortunately, the Astropaths were too long about their business, and we were nearly crushed by a land-
ship rolling over the trench. We were under its void-shields, and unable to teleport up. With treads the
size of hab-blocks moving over us, we decided to flee. The Nexus Point was engulfed in a wave of dirt
and debris.

After climbing to the surface, it became clear that we were in the middle of a war. Two land-ships were
exchanging fire from great macrocannon batteries, while ground forces and tanks surged forwards. The
object of their fight was a crashed Imperial shuttle, a shuttle we were poised to reach first. The Magos
tossed the doors off and examined the Mechanicus pilot. He retrieved a crystal data-arc before we
initiated a teleport and fled to orbit.

While the other Traders returned to their ships, we examined the arc. It contained information about a
rather complex Mechanicus plot. Rogue factions within the Adeptus wished to contravene their orders,
cause a revolt in one of the land-ships, and then create a macrocannon trade route.

The only thing better than getting paid once is getting paid twice or more. We decided to sell this
information to the leaders of the land-ship, named the Indestructible, to ensure they put down the revolt.
Then, we would sell them the STC data to create a segmented power-field, in exchange for a mutual
trade-route. We would sell them raw materials, skilled labour, rare ores, water, and food, in exchange for
the extremely advanced macrocannons the land-ship manufactures.

The deal went off without a hitch. We even intervened personally to put down the revolt‟s leader, whom I
vaporised with a single Death-Arc blast. The Elder-Tacticians, rulers of the great ship, were pleased, and
our agreement will stand for all time.

Madame Charlabelle, for a 10% cut, agreed to maintain and secure the trade route. We would secure her
ships and crews, but the logistics and mercantile aspect of the trade would be hers. When we returned to
the Lathes, we would reveal the treachery of the rogue Mechanicus to the High Fabricator.
From Zayth, we made good speed for Vaporius. I will say little of that damned and detestable world. Let
all who come after me stay well away from it! And don‟t drink the water!

The water is how the Priest-Kings control their subjects. Only they can call it from their secret springs,
and, therefore, only they can rule. They have nothing of value to trade besides the water, and the water
corrupts and befuddles the drinkers. All else is copper, sand, and salt. Such a worthless world!

The Nexus Point was high in the mountains. Up there, we were assaulted by strange creatures of living

63
rock. While I fused one solid with my Death-Arc and the Magos tossed one off a cliff, we captured
another to trade to the Adeptus Mechanicus Biologis. They would enjoy such a beast, I think, as it is
clearly an impossibility of nature.

I also gave some water and supplies to a small mission in the desert. Perhaps the damned souls of
Vaporius can be brought to the Emperor‟s light, but I suspect it will require the light of orbital fire to
cleanse that world. We had to be content with destroying the Nexus from orbit.

We departed in disgust, and made excellent speed for the next Nexus Point, which we were surprised to
find orbiting some unnamed gas-giant. It was a tiny thing, and we repeated the usual three-Astropath-
shuffle, but this time in the void. Just after gleaning the information, we were startled by a sudden
sweeping shadow. Looming above us was the dread mass of an Imperial battleship, but dead, cold, and
silent.

Our vox-sets were overloaded with the greetings of the ship‟s Captain. This, we realized, was the fabled
(and long-lost) Light of Terra, and her Captain was none other than the immortal Draken Roth. We
deposited the Astropaths aboard, and then the Magos and I boarded. Neither Sun Lee nor Charlabelle had
enough confidence in void-warfare to come along, but were standing ready to assist with possible salvage
efforts.

We boarded near the bridge, but navigation was quite difficult due to the severe damage to the ship. At
several points, we crossed pure void, while in others mould and decay reigned supreme. We spotted few
mad ragged crew, and accidentally depressurised a few more when I we opened a blast-door from a void-
section, but otherwise they fled from us rapidly.

The good Captain, in his life support throne, had achieved the consistency of old leather. After all, it has
been many centuries since the Light of Terra was last seen, and Draken Roth was already an old man
when she sailed. He was madder than a tree full of Jabbering Scale-Worms, but, curse him, he was still
the captain of a battleship of the line, and we had no rights of salvage. Killing him would be just as great a
crime, and, to be frank, the Light of Terra was on her last legs.

The madman‟s demands were simple. In return for restoring power to his ship and allowing her to
continue on with a stellar journey of exploration and wandering, we would be given access to the “hidden
holds”, rare treasure-houses and stockpiles locked for centuries. We gladly agreed. After all, some salvage
was better than none.

I will not bore you with the details of our repairs. The Magos started the ship‟s plasma drive from his own
internal power supply, and for several hours thereafter was glowed red-hot from the heat and exertion. We
repaired dozens of conduits and cables, in some cases with the aid of the ship‟s backward and skittish
degenerates. They worshipped the Magos as a sort of god of iron, an impression only heightened by his
technical prowess. Some wished to accompany us, and, being hardy folk accustomed to danger, will find
work among the crew.

Magos Robertson also woke the core cogitator, after I secured him passage by negotiating by vox with the
hold‟s twisted and mutated inhabitants. Using a great data-cable, he also coaxed the Abominable
Intelligence from our ship into the Light of Terra. As he explained it, the probe‟s spirit was made to
explore, and the Light was going where no ship had gone before.

When all the systems were awakened and repaired (for a given value of repaired), Roth gave us the
location of the primary treasure hold, and then announced in mad tones that he was taking the ship to
warp, unnavigated! We teleported back to the Will, and almost immediately back to the hold.
Unfortunately, we had but a little time, and the hold was half-overgrown with mould.

64
First, we found dataslates containing the full record of the Calixis Crusade, a treasure beyond reckoning
to the Navy. The Magos found a wonderful archeo-weave Mechanicus robe, which he immediately
donned, while I found a miraculously preserved book of psalms and prayers. Even now, the words of St.
Beryl the Perpetually Cross comfort me.

As Sun Lee and Lady Charlabelle would be quite put out without some token remuneration, we brought
them gifts. Charlabelle received a rather dashing suit of black volcanic glass, and Lady Sun Lee got an
ancient and battle-scarred heavy-weapons servitor.

We barely escaped with our loot before the ship departed for space unknown. It‟s a pity that we were
unable to salvage more. A battleship would be nice, but the Navy would want this one back, and the issue
of salvage law would bankrupt us. Ah well...

Our last act before leaving the system was to de-orbit the Nexus Point, sending it plummeting towards the
gas giant below. Let our rivals fish that one from the depths!

The penultimate Nexus Point was on the storm-world of Dross. The great storms toss dust high into orbit,
making close approach incredibly dangerous. Only one pilot has ever returned from the world. All others
have met their end far below the roiling clouds. Of course, the Tech-Priest only reminded me of that fact
after we crashed our shuttle. How I hate him.

Let no man call me a fool! I knew we were going to crash. Our pilot, may he stand at the Emperor‟s side,
knew we were going to crash. The Magos knew, and brought extra parts. I brought snacks and weapons.
So, of course we crashed. Damn near 50 km from the Nexus Point too! The Magos said that the ship
could be repaired, and I could fly it, but our chances of survival were almost nil. We decided to walk to
the Nexus Point instead.

The principal features of Dross are crashed ships and volcanic pinnacles. Often, the ships have crashed
into the pinnacles, a fate we narrowly avoided. As we walked, we passed great Eldar voidships, now
cracked and flaking, and a few wrecks even I hesitated to identify.

Magos Robertson indicated that we were being followed. I suspected as much: some of the wrecks were
daubed with crude symbols, while others were surrounded by offerings of food and bone. This planet was
inhabited, and inhabited by humans who worshipped the wrecks. I decided to stop and wave to our
shadowers.

They approached cautiously, more intent on protecting the wrecks than actively attacking. I attempted to
converse with them in every tongue I know, and we eventually settled on a broken form of Low Gothic. I
was introduced to their leader, a fearsome psyker named Asira “Storm-Speaker”. While I am loath to deal
with unsanctioned witches, the concerns of survival come first.

She escorted us (I use the term loosely, because we were at no time in any danger), to the Nexus. Our
Astropaths got their reading, but also indicated that the storms of this planet were caused by the damaged
Eldar artefact. While they were too weak to modify or repair it, a sufficiently powerful psyker might be
able to. How convenient that Asira, with her ambitions of conquest, was just such a witch.

Asira cleared a path to orbit, and we voxed for armsmen, priests, tanks, food, prefab shelters, and damn
near anything else useful. We also used orbital fire to fully convince her that we were emissaries of her
“Sky-Father” (true, for a given value of God-Emperor), and that she should obey us. I am currently
preparing to take a second expedition down. While we lack, at the moment, the capacity for a large-scale
salvage, I have promised to return.

Whether the witch can be trusted is entirely another matter.

65
Chapter the Fourteenth
I admit, I lied. We were not in the money when I last made a record. Compared to the vast treasure and
piles of loot we now have in our cargo-holds, the pittance Dross and Zanth can offer pales and falls away.
It‟s a pity we have to devote a fraction of it to medical care.

I will not dwell on Dross. We landed a few hundred armsmen, leftover colonists, and priests. Asira
Storm-Speaker agreed to open the storms once every two weeks, and unless an extremely long and
complex code-phrase was transmitted to the vox-relays on the surface, she was free to create some “gifts
from the Sky-Father” out of approaching shuttles.

The next Nexus Point was somewhere in deep interstellar void, or at least, was supposed to be there. For
whatever reason, the Astropaths informed me that it had been moved, drawn by an unknown force
through an ancient Eldar webway gate. We had no idea what was on the other side of the gate.

Sun Lee and Charlabelle declined to bring their own ships through, but were more than happy to strut
around the bridge of my ship. The portal was a mere 1km across, but we were able to hit it accurately
after a few tries. I had the pilot flogged for being incompetent.

The transition was instantaneous. With a flash of blue and a slight warp-sizzle, we entered what could
only be the Processional of the Damned. From the Heathen Stars to the Accursed Demesne in an instant:
it could hardly be believed. Such convenience! Such speed! If we weren‟t facing a graveyard of ships and
a few hundred ghost sensor returns, I would have laughed with glee.

Whoever named the Processional named it aptly. Rings of hulks, Xenos, human, and strange circling a
dead and horrible star. How many dead captains and dead crew rest forever in those tombs? What treasure
hides in their secret holds?

My musing was interrupted by the damnable Eldar. Four frigates, four, came swooping out of nowhere.
The Magos boosted our engines to near-catastrophic levels, and despite our bulk we left the Blade and
Bane behind. The Bane took the worst of the damage, and was left near-crippled. For some reason, the
Eldar declined them off, and fled before we could return fire. Apparently, they only wished to delay us
with repairs rather than risk collateral damage.

The Magos and I, along with Sun Lee, Madam Charlabelle, and their retinues of fops and bodyguards,
transferred over to the Envenomed Blade, while the Bane docked with His Invincible Will to begin repairs.
The Blade is our most manoeuvrable ship, and, as the Nexus lay damn near the centre of the debris cloud,
we would need every ounce of thrust to make it through safely.

Our passage in was relatively uneventful. Some ghost auspex returns, power fluctuations, and strange
pinging noises from the outside hull indicated that we were being boarded. I took to the void, with the
Magos assisting, and we routed our mysterious assailants. Despite being encased in Imperial-pattern void
suits and wielding Imperial-pattern meltacutters, the strange harvesters evaporated when severely
damaged. It was quite annoying, and quite baffling. Thankfully, their range was pitiful, and armsmen
teams utterly destroyed them.

Further into the cloud we received a hail from an unknown source, asking permission to board. A small
and badly maintained freighter limped into our aft cargo bay. Our new guests were survivors of the good
Trader Wrath Umboldt‟s crews, sent into the Processional to scavenge treasure and artefacts. They wished
passage out, and we agreed.

66
On our journey we collected several more groups of stranded voidfarers. It was the least we could do, and
they did bring a few valuable archeotech baubles for the Magos. We had the Astropaths do their thing,
and fled. A second group of survivors tried to attack us as we departed, but we outpaced their ships, using
our sunsears to cut a hole through the debris field.

We rendezvoused with the fleet and returned through the portal. Almost immediately, we made for the
location of the Dread Pearl now fixed perfectly in the minds of our Astropaths and Navigator.
It was inevitable, then, that we ran into trouble. The Dread Pearl was, as in the vision, revealed by a warp-
storm before our very eyes. But behind our very eyes, and behind our armada, the ships of our
competitors were streaking ever-closer.

Madames Charlabelle and Lee declined to brave the fast-fading warp-storm, but my ships would show no
such cowardice. Though the approach was dangerous, and we only survived the myriad terrors due to the
Magos‟ enhancement of the thrusters. We were slapped by a titanic tentacle of warpstuff and narrowly
avoided a veritable cavalcade of cruisers, battleships, and escorts, which appeared and vanished just as
quickly.

The Dread Pearl itself was rather underwhelming from orbit. I was expecting, for my troubles, a planet
with mountains of gold and great plains of glittering archeotech. What I received was ocean, beach, and
beautiful small islands. I hadn‟t just braved a warp-storm to go on vacation, so I ordered three landers
down, with one hundred and fifty armsmen, the four-treaded tank, and whatever chimeras we had left.
Our drop-zone was a relatively large island, roughly equatorial, and covered with vegetation and strange
ruins.

My rage at the lack of golden mountains was mollified by the fact that the seas were littered with gems. I
had the armsmen take shifts collecting them. The sea was so shallow and the gems so abundant that they
collected bucketsworth with little effort. I proclaimed that the entire crew was to descend in shifts. All
twenty cargo-lifters and fifty-odd Argus were launched. In exchange for first filling a few trifling drums
full of gems, the crew would be welcome to stuff their pockets with the abundant wealth of the Dread
Pearl.

The sand also brought forth Eldar trinkets, and a handful of valuable Soulstones. Including the one we
had in our collection, we now have six, along with some statuary and minor wraithbone trinkets, which
will fetch a good price in some shady Calixis market.

I decided to explore the island, while the armsmen, pilots, and crew stuffed their pockets. The Magos
decided to follow, and I dragged an Astropath along. The ruins were undoubtedly of Eldar origin, but old,
collapsed, or overgrown. We passed a few silent wraithbone statue-warriors, and I ensured that none of
my armsmen or salvage teams would touch them. The soulstone set into each guardian‟s chest raised
alarm bells, for such constructs of the Eldar are often sentient and warlike.

You may wonder why I was not concerned with protecting my new-conquered domain from the ravenous
fleets of my rivals. Would it not be prudent to first secure orbit, and then land a few colonists and some
mining equipment? Indeed, it for any other planet it might have been so, but here I felt that a more hasty
tactic was called for. Whatever the reason, I felt that we would not have time to properly savour this
world.

In another clearing, I found a strange sword half-overgrown with vines. It made me immensely depressed
to wield, for some reason, so I stuck it in my spare scabbard. While it appears to be no more useful than
my current blade, I suspect its mood-altering properties will find a use somewhere. Alternatively, we can
sell the damn thing. It‟s an Eldar sword covered in gemstones, for goodness sake!

67
On the far side of the island, I spotted a small skiff or watercraft languishing in the bay. The two tanned
human fishermen aboard spotted our party at the same time, and started to flee. I removed my armour to
facilitate swimming, though I retained my helmet. The Eldar are notorious for employing snipers, and I
did not want my illustrious career to end with an untimely headshot.

Having spent the better part of my life in the void, swimming is a difficult art for me. Nonetheless, I met
the boat, and the fishermen. Though their strange dialect of Low Gothic was nigh-incomprehensible to
me, I could tell that they were not pleased to have me in their boat.

Being a captain myself, I could understand their displeasure, and quit the boat when they brought out the
fishing spears. However, I could not let their presence be overlooked, and used my grapple to attach
myself to their boat. They reluctantly towed me to another island, where I met more of the human
inhabitants of the Dread Pearl.

Their leaders spoke High Gothic. The humans here were colonists, once, blown-off course by the now-
vanished warp-storm. They crashed into what they curiously thought of as “paradise”. I suppose, to their
simple sort, the lush islands and abundant seas were equivalent to the unending heaven at the Emperor‟s
side. Within a few generations, they lost their technology and grasp of the Imperium at large. Their
clothing was sparse, but everyone wore strings and pouches of gemstones, as if they were worth nothing.

My pleasant chat was interrupted by a sniper‟s precise shot. My left ankle was damn near severed, and I
collapsed to the sand. The Magos, alerted by his skulking servo-skull, flew over carrying my gear and
armour, and set to repairing my leg. The Eldar sniper‟s accuracy was quite impressive, but the cut was
clean, and the Magos stitched the tissue back together with considerable ease. I was on my feet in under
an hour, and, during the surgery, I am proud to say I continued to talk with the “Sanctarchs”. The Magos
and Dray organized the landing party, as the escorts were in low orbit as well.

After a few hours of relaxation, light bartering (a Kraken-tooth “fish skinning” knife for more gems), and
general relaxation, we decided to travel back to “our” island, where the majority of my ship‟s crew and
officers were busy picking a fortune in gemstones for me. I had no particular plans for the Sanctarchs.
Sun Lee, I learned, had convinced them that she was a living godess (blasphemous, but effective). Even
Charlabelle had landed a few lifters, and was busy stuffing her holds with goods. Bastille was nowhere to
be found, the Duke of Blood was, characteristically, bombarding population centres. I think Captain
Fuckwad was busy collecting slaves, a tactic which would indirectly prove to be his undoing.

The little boat nearly sunk when the Magos got in, but we got fairly close to own island before disaster
struck. With a flash of witchfire and a flare of the warp, all hell broke loose. Literally.

The warp storm returned with a surge of lightning and cracking energy, blotting out the sun and throwing
the Sanctarchs into a panic. Through the foliage, we could just see the forms of a terrifying Eldar psyker,
lit by glowing runes and internal fire. The silent guardian statues, as I feared, were awaking and marching
about, even rising from the depths of the sea. The Eldar sent a message into our minds: this planet was
theirs. If they could not have it, they would at least deny it to us. Damn the Eldar! They‟re so... petty!

I ordered all landers to take off as soon as they were loaded. No crewman was to be left behind, and not
one collected jewel either. To that end, any willing Sanctarchs were welcome aboard, provided there was
room. The Astropath sprinted for the nearest lander, just as Abel Gerrit and his armsmen came swooping
down upon us.

Didn‟t I mention that? No? Well, the good Rogue Trader Gerrit had gotten himself in a bit of a pickle. I
think that he was being pursued by the indigents, far from his transports, when I sent an Argus to pick
him up. My original plan was to convince him to aid us in a boarding action against Captain Fuckward‟s
dilapidated raider, but with the advent of the Farseer his presence was required here.

68
Gerrit is a duelist at heart, and, appealing to his martial honour code, I convinced him to charge with me
at the Farseer. The Magos was, to be polite, reluctant, but agreed to assist. We had no armsmen in the
immediate area, as most were protecting the landers, and so Gerrit‟s five surviving armsmen (armed with
little more than lasguns and grenades) were our only firescreen.

They died admiarable deaths, all of them. Some were torn apart by the living statue-guardians‟ strange
cannons, others fell to invisible assasins, and a few were killed by their own grenades when the
treacherous Farseer pulled the pins. I only narrowly escaped this fate by quickly discarding mine, but
Abel Gerrit was not so fortunate. The grenades severely wounded him, and as he fell an Eldar sniper blew
a fair chunk of his brains across the clearing. Amazingly, the Magos tells me he survived, and is even now
recovering.

I alone faced down the Farseer. Awkwardly wielding my Death-Arc in one hand and firing blasts of
energy from my left hand‟s inferno pistol, I advanced. The Farseer deflected most of the shots with a
telekinetic shield, and then charged. I dropped my weapons, drew my powersword, and charged. The
Magos, despite firing his stormbolter continuously, did little to no damage.

Combat was fierce and extremely swift. I gave as good as I got until the damnable Eldar stabbed me.
Witchblade glowing with strange fires, the Xenos witch cast me down, a 2-inch hole burnt right through
me. It was immensely painful, and a hair from fatal. I also, apparently, caught fire.

I rely on the Magos‟ recordings from here in, as I was utterly incapacitated. As the Farseer attacked me,
the telekinetic shield faltered. The Magos was about to open fire when the three guardians, who I now
know are called Wraithguard, fired at him. He lost both legs, was flung quite a few metres towards the
Farseer, and landed prone. Depsite his crippling injuries, he fired, and the combined kinetic impact blew
the Farseer into the jungle. The witchfire receded and the Wraithguard returned to dormancy: apparently,
the Farseer‟s hold on the planet had been broken and the Eldar were retreating before the might of the
Imperium.

The warp-storm, on the other hand, was not. If Lady Sun Lee‟s guncutter hadn‟t arrived, we would have
been in real trouble. The Magos tells me that I was mere seconds from death before he stabilized me, and
I do not doubt it.

I have no recollection of shooting Krawkin Feckward either. He ran into the clearing just after the Farseer
disappeared, pursued by a host of angry Sanctarchs. Apparently, I sat up, despite my wounds, and shot
him in the head with my Death Arc. His headless and flaming corpse kept running for several metres,
before tipping over and blazing merrily. The Magos collecting the bits of his skull, and is preparing to
build yet another one of his cerebral companions once I am fully healed.

The transit to orbit was quite eventful. The engines apparently failed, but the Magos repaired them almost
instantly. We were also pursued by an Eldar interceptor of some sort, which we narrowly evaded by
ducking into a cloudbank.

I was unconscious until we broke orbit. Even now, I am confined to the arcane life-sustaining apparatus
of the medicae ward, forced to give orders by vox and writ. Dray is acting Admiral, according to protocol,
until I am ready to reassume command. We rescued nearly a thousand Sanctarchs: their jewels and
friendly nature helped them find space aboard the overloaded landing craft. They to be politely divested
of their jewels and given to Sun Lee; most are more than willing. Sun Lee and I parted on good terms.

Lady Charlabelle escaped the Dread Pearl with a hold full of jewels and trinkets. She will accompany us
to Scintilla, where I will have my heart, lungs, and a fair potion of my skin replaced with specially vat-
grown organs. We have much to do in the Sector, and many, many things to sell.

69
Chapter the Fifteenth
Has it been a full six months since I last made my record? Well, a gentleman as busy as me can hardly be
expected to spend hours of precious time scribbling like some damned Administratum remembrancer!

Ironically, I only begin my records, it would seem, in the midst of danger. In this case, the danger is the
most pressing yet. If I wasn‟t once again confined to the infirmary, I‟m sure I‟d be doing something
useful.

The Magos had insisted, last time I was injured, that we were to travel to the Lathes. Scintilla‟s medicae
facilities, he insisted, paled in comparison to the powers of the Magi Biologis of the Lathes. Despite his
subtle (as only a Tech-Priest can be) hints to have my lungs and heart replaced with agumentics, I
stubbornly stuck to vat-grown flesh. An artificial heart would be far too easy for the Magos to override.

I suspect that our journey to that premier Forge-world of the sector was not motivated purely by concern
for my welfare. Yorick’s Bane needed extensive repairs, while the Magos himself wanted new bionic
enhancements. More armour, most likely, and a set of replacement legs with improved piston action. And
more armour. I think that he actually had them bolt a 6” steel plate to his head, with special eyeholes
drilled for his multiple lenses and head-tubes. Perhaps my sermons about the importance of the helmet
were beginning to sink into his augmented skull.

In any case, I spent a mere month convalescing. The Bane, despite the best efforts of the adepts of the
Lathes, was to spend the next year in drydock.

I will briefly summarize our efforts in the sector, for they were not particularly interesting or diverting.
Our visit to Idumea was uneventful. The dust of the Scouring had yet to settle, but we received more
supplies and labour from the much-reduced Lathe Nine. Here, and in the Lathes, we found a good market
for the gems and curiosities of the Expanse. The Magos, displaying a hitherto unnoticed entrepreneurial
spirit, sold tours of the heretical archeotech probe to radical factions, the same radical factions we had
sold out to the Mechanicus of the Lathes for interfering with the foundries of Zanth.

From there, we sailed for Scintilla, and there made much profit. The sector premier of Krakenslayer sold
out every theatre and vox-screen on the planet. Lord Sector Hax made a personal appearance at Wong‟s
Spinward Theater, and he quite enjoyed the film and the subsequent party. Though I feared that the
extraordinary cost of the celebration (not to mention the reparations thereafter) would punish my finances,
that evening‟s profits from the film alone more than covered the cost.

We also purchased two orbital lifting cranes for use on Dross. These gigantic scaffolds were helpless
without an escort, being entirely unarmoured and undefended, but were excellent at lifting truly massive
weights from the surface of a planet to orbit.

From Scintilla, we returned to the Expanse. Charlabelle‟s operation was proceeding well, and the first
shipment of macrocannons was due in Ultionis with two months. Our first port of call was Ultionis, where
we met with the strange and reclusive Inquisitor Torqk in his new Inquisitorial Palace, which was, at the
time, a hut made of prefab panels.

He announced that his investigations elsewhere had conclusively proved two of the members of the
crusade fleet‟s command staff to be in the employ of the Council. The Commodore wasn‟t, despite his
massive incompetence. Their main actions had been against the Orks, and „Undred „Undred Teef was
suffering greatly. I was pleased, even if the fleet had failed to uncover any new and interesting worlds for
me.

70
Colonization was going well. Most of the ships were still off-loading, or assisting in city-building or
plantation maintenance. The Mechanicus were making good progress as well.

We then journey to Dross, brining our “colony” there reinforcements, relief, and extra supplies. Ms.
Stormcaller or whatever was doing just fine. The Magos and I personally explored a few wrecked ships.

Our primary find was an ancient human vessel. I say human, but truly, the former crew were degenerate
mutants of some sort. Their puzzling language was based off sound, and the Magos was able to whistle
his way through the ship‟s systems. We discovered some rather strange things, including a curious sort of
parasite or creature that consumed organic matter ravenously, though slowly. We captured a few samples
for the Magi Biologis; the rest were purged or put in stasis.

The Magos also found a rather curious horned bovine skull, which I had cleaned and mounted. The rest of
the multi-limbed skeleton was too badly decayed to save. The rest of the ship‟s cargo, however, was just
fine. Thousands of STC-pattern lasguns, vast holds of agricultural machinery, and concrete buildings.
Perhaps this ship was a colony effort gone awry, or supplies to some long-lost world. In any case, with
the appropriate whistles attached, the machinery would serve Ultionis well. The colonists would, perhaps,
be inconvenienced by the strange sound-based controls, but the Magos was confident that he could create
some sort of interface, given time and a supply of brass pipe.

Lifting the ship proved to be quite easy. With our unsanctioned (I prefer not to use the term “Rogue”, as
she technically revered the Sky-Emperor and all that) psyker holding back the storms, the orbital cranes
hauled the cylindrical bulk of the cargo ship to orbit.

The ship was not designed for long-distance piloted warp jumps, but sported a still-operational Gellar
field generator and void shielding, even if half the holds were depressurised. We would tow her to
Footfall, refit the engines and landing boosters, then take her to Ultionis and release her cargo.

We towed the ship, which I named the Minor Key, into Footfall. Whilst arranging for repairs and labour, I
received summons from the Council, once again meeting at the Hermitage. We departed forthwith, hardly
suspecting that the Council had found their collective backbones. Really, it was about time we were
ambushed.

Our ambushers were relatively clever, all previous behaviour to the contrary. I knew that there would be
no meeting the moment we dropped into system. Lord Otto‟s cruiser (the Corpulent Dame), the Duke of
Blood‟s cruiser (the insipidly named Duke of Blood), and Bandershand Flood‟s cruiser (the Scintillan
Typhoon), and two frigates belonging to the one remaining son of the von Caius, Fredrick (I think).

We matched the close formation of the other ships, bracketed port and starboard by Flood and Lord Otto,
and took a lighter over to the Hermitage. Of course, the other Traders weren‟t aboard. They were sitting
back, cackling, as I watched them via the lone view-screen in our usual meeting room. Then, they
detonated explosives under the landing dock, annihilating all the transports (a nice touch; our would-be
assassins had even placed their own decoys). The atmosphere fled the room, and I scrambled into my
void-suit. Before I had even finished the proper clamping rituals, four armoured heavy weapons servitors
entered the room. The Magos and I stood back to back. Two servitors bearing two heavy bolters faced
me, while a heavy bolter and a warp-fethed plasma cannon squared off with the Magos.

I dispatched the two servitors with a blast from the Death-Arc and the inferno pistol in my left arm. Their
shots were mostly deflected and dissipated by my powerfield, though shrapnel and fire still scorched my
arms and torso. The Magos dispatched the plasma-cannon servitor in a hail of storm-bolter rounds, getting
slightly singed in the process. We dispatched the last servitor together, with lightning and bolt-shell.

71
Our problems were far from over. Through the mangled hole where the docking bay used to be, the
Magos and I had a front-row seat to an all-out close-range starship brawl. Our ships had been essentially
at a dead stop, all within a few kilometres of each other. Void-shields flared, lance-fire split great seams
of white in the darkness, and great blooms of debris. Debris from my ship! Damn them!

Before the vox was jammed, the Magos ordered a point-to-point teleport, flinging us across space to the
bridge of the von Caius flagship. Of course, without the Magos‟ expert touch it took considerably longer
than expected, and we had to endure damn near half an hour of intermittent broadsides and fire.

The Duke of Blood, while ferocious, lacked accuracy, and did little damage. Lord Otto lacked ferocity
and accuracy. His crew was primarily fops and hangers-on, unsuited to close-quarters warfare. I can see
him now, giggling and ordering fire patterns. He wouldn‟t‟ be laughing for long.

At visual ranges, a space battle becomes inelegant. It is a matter of attrition, of rapid reloading, and
superior armour plating. Also, subterfuge. And at this point, the only dimension we had was subterfuge,
but we had it in spades.

The teleport washed through a few minutes later. I was prepared, as was the Magos. We each had two
grenades in hand before the teleport hit. Magos Robertson, disdaining cowardly smoke, held two frags,
while I held a frag and a smoke grenade. We hit the bridge exactly, landing quite close to some of the von
Caius gunnery officers. With a terrifying war cry, we lobbed grenades and charged.

Automated gunnery servitors blasted at us, but we gave as good as we got. My sheer presence caused
most of the officers and crew to flee the room in short order. (The Magos assures this was caused by his
“subsonic fear harmonics”, but, quite frankly, he is full of groxdung). I charged up the ranks of consoles
and with truly righteous fury struck down Fredrick von Caius with a single blast from my Death Arc. His
power armour, gilded though it was, temporarily saved his life.

In my haste to close with my hated prey, I had left myself exposed to the slaved gun-servitors. Under a
hail of heavy-bolter rounds I fell to the deck comatose, though not before blasting one servitor into
oblivion. My power-field, the finest ever produced by the Lathes, did not fail me, and probably saved my
life. The Magos dispatched the rest of the servitors with alarming ease, though, of course, I have only the
recording to go by.

Fredrick awoke just in time to see the Magos slaughter the last of his protection. Rather than allow
himself to be captured and brought to justice (or, more likely, captured, slowly and painfully tortured and
then brought to justice), flung himself upon his command throne and committed suicide via plasma
grenade. He didn‟t even leave a skull: the Magos was so disappointed. I think he‟s going to try for a
reconstruction from facial auspex data, but it won‟t be the same.

I regained consciousness to see the wrong end of a plasma pistol pointed at my head. Von Caius‟ pilot,
who had been lurking about, was trying to take me hostage. Through the sorcery of magnetic
manipulation, the Magos stole his pistol and then killed him. I have the pistol as a trophy still; it is rather
nice.

After a bit of medicae work to stabilize the worst of my wounds (and put in some more blood, for I
seemed to have misplaced quite a volume of it), the Magos began to work on the ship‟s internal systems.
With the command throne gone he had quite a time of it, but eventually succeded in locking us firmly in
the bridge, and accessing the external vox arrays.

This was our first chance to get a larger picture of the battle. While we were still beleaguered, we were
giving as good as we got. Flood‟s ship had, apparently, been sabotaged. I think that the good
Captain/Interrogator had released some sort of hallucinogenic gas onto his bridge, causing much havoc,
and giving him a plausible excuse to stop shooting my ship.

72
We managed to contact the Duke of Blood. I truly believe that such a man as he is incapable of
formulating and performing the scheme of the Council, and therefore was ignorant of its true purpose. By
modem-song and negotiation we enlightened him and, in exchange for not releasing his rather
embarrassing video, he turned his guns on the startled Lord Otto and his incompetent crew.

I wasn‟t satisfied with the damage done to the late von Caius‟ ship. If it had been possible, I would have
vented every compartment to the void, but the controls were sadly locked out. The teleportation would
take several minutes to recharge, so I proposed a mission to cause more havoc and possibly wrest true
control of the ship from the lackeys of the destroyed dynasty. Of course, I was seriously wounded and
practically at the Emperor‟s side already, and the Magos was, in an unprecedented event, down a third of
a storm-bolter drum.

With my inferno pistol, we bored through the thick armourplate to a crawlspace beneath the bridge. Well,
for the Magos, it was a crawlspace. I could walk normally. In any case, after a bit of navigation we wound
up a few decks down and in an armoury. Unfortunately, all that remained was lasguns: I suspect that the
heavy weapons were all being readied for the assault on the bridge.

The Magos, acting as a one-man wrecking crew, blazed a trail of destruction towards the elevator. I
covered his titanic blind spot. I wasn‟t willing to risk the elevator being overridden, so the Magos broke a
hole in the roof, and we floated upwards. From my long association with shipboard life I knew that the
Captain‟s personal quarters were likely four decks up, and the private cogitator banks would be there.

We pried the doors open, and ascended. Elevator wells lack gravity, of course, so it was rather easy. The
doors, despite formidable hydraulic systems, yielded to the Magos. Unfortunately, the floor was made of
lava. No, I am mistaken. That was a different floor. This floor was made of gold. Gold, supercharged with
an inordinate amount of electricity. I plan to loot that floor.

No, better. I plan to have someone else loot the floor. I‟m in the infirmary. Damn!

We were saved by a damned bird. I forgot entirely to mention that the Magos, in a fit of uncharacteristic
jollity, purchased for himself a very fine grapplehawk from Idumea. At the time, I had no idea that it
would be useful for more than the occasional evisceration of an enemy or a loud, flapping distraction. He
had carried it around on his shoulder, and it had squawked at everything and defecated intermittently.

That damn two-headed bird carried me over the electric carpet and to the reception desk. An emaciated
and rather hideous servitor greeted me, apparently ignoring my strange grappled predicament. I blathered
a bit, but was unable to convince the damn thing to turn off the power-carpet.

Thankfully, we were allowed in to the inner sanctum by the late von Caius‟ favoured concubine.
Apparently, the former Rogue Trader‟s power armour had kept him safe from the powerfield, but it
trapped her inside. While the Magos fiddled about with the cogitator units, I continued to distract
everyone. I think it was just after the Magos had shut down the ship‟s plasma drive and void shields that
she caressed my face. It‟s a terrible pity she had a poison ring. It‟s also terrible that she activated the
private suite‟s power-carpet moments later.

Nearly overcome by neurotoxin, I managed to fire my grapple-hook at the ceiling, and was not immolated
when the floor activated. My erstwhile assassin was not so lucky, and burned quite merrily as my vision
dimmed. The Magos hadn‟t stopped hovering, and apparently retrieved me before ordering a teleport and
doing some final irreparable damage.

Their still purging the toxin out of my system. The Magos is occupied on the bridge, and nobody is telling
me a warp-buggering thing! What‟s going on? What are all those loud, expensive-sounding noises? WHY
AREN‟T WE LOOTING YET???

73
Chapter the Sixteenth
It has been a most interesting few months. Interesting, in this case, taking the meaning of “expensive”,
“nerve-wracking”, and “full of daemons”.

Warp-damned daemons!

In retrospect, the combat with the Council was quite relaxing. With Flood floating away, his entire officer
core hopped up on hallucinogens, and the Duke of Blood pursuing the squealing Lord Otto out of system.
The second von Caius frigate, entirely outmatched and now without employer or warrant, vanished as
well. Our captured prize, however, remained, thanks to the Tech-Priests clever meddling.

I am reliably informed that the boarding action was quite successful. I was able to convince most of the
crew to surrender peacefully, and those who declined were messily torn to pieces by the Magos‟ murder-
servitors. We lost, all told, about a dozen armsmen and a few servitors; quite a remarkable feat. The ship,
a beautiful Firestorm-class frigate named The Fifth Business, was entirely undamaged. To be fair, some
blood and body parts needed removal, but all in all she was fighting fit. The command throne, of course,
had been destroyed, but another had thoughtfully been provided by the self-immolation of Fredrick von
Caius. His armour, or what remained of it, had fused into a rather gruesome lump of gold and ceramite.
With the addition of a small console and a repaired hololithic display, it would do nicely as a chair.

My ship, on the other hand, had not fared so well. We badly needed replacement crew and hull repairs,
and so set out for Footfall. We would do basic repairs before returning, once again, to the comforting
drydocks of the Lathes.

Fate, of course, is a fickle mistress, full of demands and unfortunate choices in timing. The Bane and the
Act arrived safely in Footfall; we did not.

First, the damnable Navigator got us slightly lost, adding a few weeks to a routine journey. When we
exited, however, we exited far, far from safety or support. Worst of all, we were pursued. Out of our
warp-wake rode Hadarak Fel. His cruiser, the Fel Hand, trailed warpfire and lightning, and dragged with
it a great clump of the Immaterium. Behind the both of us, a great warp vortex began to form.

His Invincible Will was positioned nearer the outer edge, and would consequently travel slower than the
Fel Hand, whose blasphemous and tumour-riddled form could ride the faster immaterial currents closer to
the heart of the vortex.

Yes, tumour- riddled. Fel had clearly delivered his once-murdered ship into to the grasp of the Ruinous
Powers. Great hulks of warpflesh burst from his hull, and all about menaces of sinew and bone protruded
most indecently.

There was no need or desire for diplomacy or the niceties of civilized combat. Our ships were within a
few hundred metres; brawling range. We got off the first salvo, and despite the Magos‟ incredible
accuracy, did little damage. The return fire was unsettling. Rather than shells, the Fel Hand fired hideous
tentacles or spikes of muscle, which pierced our hull quite efficiently, as well as binding our two ships
together.

I received reports that boarders were entering via the hideous tubes, and so ordered all armsmen and crew
deployed to the port side of the ship. I also broke out the beam cannons, to wondr‟ous effect. Our
boarders were not, thankfully, daemons themselves, but the wretched, corrupted, and quite dead crew of
the Fel Hand. They fought well, for dead men.

74
Indeed, whole swaths of the ship were being lost. Those areas were also losing primary power, though the
emergency grav-plating usually remained on. While locked like this, there was little we could do from the
bridge. I decided to make for one of the infested areas, to personally bolster defences. We locked down
the bridge, an act which ensured that virtually all of my higher officers survived.

The Magos, of course, accompanied me. I have no doubt that he was also plotting firing solutions and
organizing repair teams at the same time, for he has an egregious capability for multitasking. We were
accompanied be a few teams of armsmen.

I shall not drone on overmuch concerning the details of our attack. Suffice to say that, after a few brief
skirmishes and a bit of inspirational posing, we were well on our way to the nearest port minor
macrobattery.

I should describe our opponents, for posterity, and I doubt that even the most meticulous of Inquisitors
will desire more detail than I am prepared to give here.

The risen dead attacked in waves. Aimless and unfocused without a target, they sprinted and charged
whenever one appeared. The Magos, unless he moved, was invisible to them, and indeed I was able to
imitate their mannerisms and sneak past, as I shall detail later. In form, they were almost always
emaciated and rotted, though they were often accompanied by bulkier, green-robed attendants. These
attendants constantly spawned loathsome fist-sized flies, which the risen dead threw at us to little effect.
Their swollen insectile forms simply burst like overripe ploin-fruit against my power-field, and the
Magos, of course, cared little for organic matter in any state of decay.

Most of the boarders wore tattered Fel heraldry, though some were in my own, indicating that the dead on
both sides did not necessarily stay so. The Magos also, later, encountered several warp-addled ogryns or
mutated brutes, which he dispatched with characteristic ease, despite having to shoot through a whole
crowd of lesser dead to hit them.

But I have missed my self-imposed bounds, and failed to convey how exactly the Magos and I were
separated. The matter was quite simple, though startlingly brief. We were moving along a corridor when a
boarding tentacle punched through the bulkhead. With catlike agility, I evaded the rippling wall of flesh.
With ingot-like demeanour, the Magos was hit directly, and vanished. Several of my armsmen were also
lost or pulped.

I was, unfortunately, alone, and unable to contact the Magos by vox. His grapplehawk still followed me,
and, for once, I was glad for its companionship, even if it did squawk most irritatingly. With the bird
floating high overhead, I made my way towards what I reckoned would be the nearest breach point. At
one juncture, I had to sneak past a score of the risen dead, and, slightly coated in slime from the attacks of
their brethren, I passed unnoticed.

At the gun-deck proper (for my navigation was good), I encountered and dispatched a little over a dozen
shambling ones, aided by a grenade dropped by the grapplehawk and my own skills the Death-Arc. I was
able to briefly send a ship-wide vox, with no response possible, indicating that I was boarding the
enemy‟s ship... alone. If Magos Robertson felt so inclined, he could follow me.

My method of boarding was simple. Unlike the good Lord Captain Munchausen, I have little skill at
riding macrocannon shells, and so boarded via a nearby... flesh tube. Yes, though the point was diamond
hard it had split, revealing a hollow interior. Presumably, the foul dead had boarded via these tubes, Fel
not being content with merely blowing holes in my ship.

I charged, alone. The tube was near half a kilometre long, but I charged nonetheless. I had no light,
normally relying on the Magos to provide, so I charged in near darkness, my hexagrammic wards and
refractor field provided minimal illumination. The grapplehawk followed, for whatever reason.

75
Fel‟s ship was... unpleasant. His gun decks were bogs, literal fens of reeking water, diseased warp-flesh,
and a few lurking dead. Wasting little time, I charged my way to the upper hull, hoping there to find a
passageway to the bridge and, presumably, whatever remained of Hadarak Motherfucking Fel. I instead
found an observation dome, a blister on the upper spine of the ship. The floor was inlaid with the Emperor
and the Primarchs, in traditional posture, but someone had defaced and scraped the visages of the
Loyalists, leaving the Traitors arrayed intact.

It was only as I crossed the room that Fel‟s cunning trap became apparent. He had funnelled me here with
closed corridors and shambling mounds of daemonflesh; now he would strike. Hideous red sigils erupted
„round the circular room, whispers and foul voices assaulted my mind, and reality itself buckled and gave
way. The room was a summoning circle, bringing the undiluted Warp boiling into the Materium.

Were it not for my warded armour and steely faith (which, is, apparently, stronger than any armour), I am
sure I would have been torn to pieces. Perhaps Fel did not want the Warp to kill me before he could.

Incidentally, the grappelhawk was thrown to the top of the armourglass dome, where it survived, pinned
but unharmed, until the end of the confrontation.

Through the miasma and raw energy of the Warp strode Hadarak Fel. I had never met him in person
before, but he bore a fair resemblance to his official portrait. Apart from the warpfire eyes, the gaunt and
bone-white skin, the matted and slick hair, the thin coat of dust and cobwebs all about, and his daemon-
sword, he looked positively pedestrian.

I greeted him, and he responded politely in kind. I taunted him, implying that now I‟d come to kill him a
second time, and he challenged me to a duel by sword. Being no fool, I tried to shoot him first, but the
power of the warp evaporated the bullets the instant they left the barrel of my pistol. Fel just laughed, and
we both charged.

My sword has no name. It is an Olivares heirloom, wielded by the Rogue Trader of the House since time
immemorial. I had it rebalanced for my build while we were at the Lathes, and it sung in my hand.

Fel‟s sword was invisible, only lit by the ichor that dripped on it from his bleeding hand. It could be
parried, and a furious duel ensued. In the warp, it was impossible to tell how long it lasted. We could have
fought for mere seconds, or weeks. Hundreds of feints, strikes, slashes, and reversals; it was quite tiring.
All the while, I was offered victory, endless power, and everlasting life by the daemons that fought for my
mind. I pushed them back, and still fought on.

I parried every hit... but one.

I cannot remember what happened then. I think I fell, unwounded in flesh but dying in soul, and... the
Emperor came for me. Filled with divine ambition, I rose, and drove Fel back. I shattered his sword, tore
his foul warp-tainted form to ribbons. I do not think I banished him. I think I obliterated him forever.

Perhaps it was a miracle. Perhaps the Emperor did stand by my side, not merely in spirit but in a true
manifestation of His everlasting power. Perhaps, for a moment, I was touched by my God.

I can hardly recall how I made my way back to my ship as the Fel Hand disintegrated around me. I think
the grapplehawk pulled me most of the way. I crawled, I ran, and I lived. The Fel Hand without a master
and driving will, collapsed, and was drawn in fragments into the Warp Vortex.

I did not reach the bridge, before we were well clear, but the Magos and our helmsman performed most
admirably. Of course, the Magos had survived. A hit from a high-velocity diamond-tipped warp-fouled
boarding tentacle, and subsequently being punched through several bulkheads and into a water cistern
merely irritated him.

76
If one believes his tale (which, considering he has it on pict-record, would be wise), he proceeded to
destroy several hundred risen dead by electrocuting the cistern, dispatched several more (and not an
inconsiderable number of risen Ogryns) by bolter, take the axial train line to the Enginarium, murder
several more risen dead, and then, in a fit of what could possibly be described as holy rage, dispatch Lady
Ash (Fel‟s pet psyker, now demi-daemon herself), and disarm the multiple explosive she had placed
around the ship‟s warp drive.

He did all this without the benefit of my leadership. His storm bolter glowed red hot for a full day.

Damn Tech-Priests.

We limped towards the nearby planets of the system we had suddenly arrived in, only to be contacted by
the Eldar and asked to depart. We did so with extreme haste: His Invincible Will was severly damaged.
Over ninety percent of the crew was dead, and over three-quarters of the hull lacked power and
atmosphere.

With a modicum of luck, we arrived in Footfall a week later. The Blade and the Act were waiting for us,
both undamaged and fully crewed. We limped through the Maw and into the Lathes, where His Invincible
Will was given the finest drydock in the system, there to undergo a full cleansing and refit, her first in
over three centuries of plying the void. The Rozencrantz, carrying the first shipment of Zanth autoloaders.
The Will would receive them, and would also act as a sales platform to the Mechanicus of the Lathes.

The next few months were a whirlwind of sales, contracts, and enormous sums changing hands. The Bane
was repaired ahead of schedule. We had to transfer the Magos‟ heretical archeotech ship from the Will to
the Bane, and were very nearly found out by some Secutors. Their fear of the Dread Magos Robertson
kept them from investigating further.

We purchased the services of Tagun‟s Acquisition Liberation Company, a fine mercenary band fresh out
of the long war on Tranch. Their red carapace armour, crisp autoguns, and disciplined manner inspired
considerable confidence. Ten thousand troopers, plus support, officers, and most of their own supplies.

On the forge-world of Omicron 71-DX (Tech-Priest and their planet names), we purchased 150 assault
landers, 8 bomber wings, and a few escort fighters and so-on. 71-DX makes excellent flying craft, but
they do not come cheap. We loaded them into the Rozencrantz’s many launch bays.

Why were we spending such volumes of cash on these weapons and men of war? The Duke of Blood, still
brimming with rage and betrayal, had given us the coordinates of the Council‟s three colonies, in the area
of the Expanse known as the Foundling Worlds. We will meet with him at Footfall in one month‟s time.
His Invincible Will is still in drydock, of course, so we will take the Bane as our flagship. While the
Rozencrantz is larger, she is a carrier primarily, and will play little part if there is to be a space battle.

The various ventures in the Foundling Worlds have a history of failure, collapse, and utter destruction.
We hope to live up to this high standard, even if I am bereft of my cruiser. For once, the Duke of Blood‟s
attitude and mine are quite closely aligned.

Of course, the rule is “Pillage, then burn”, so perhaps restraint is called for, if only temporarily.

77
Chapter the Seventeenth
Necrontyr. I found the word in a half-burnt tome of ancient lore, one of the few I recovered from the
conflagration of Mulcibet Minor. An old word, in old script, but the circuit-sigils matched those I had
seen on that dead, accursed world of Eta Beta Omicron-2.

The Necrontyr are coming. They rise, after who knows how long, and all my works are undone.
The Council, of course, is to blame. We met the Duke of Blood at the gates of a series of warp-shoals, far
in the Foundling Worlds. Only he knew the route through the dangerous shoals, and, though I was loathe
to trust a madman, my small fleet followed him into the storms. His navigation was good, and though our
progress was slow, it was without incident.

Our destination, the first of the colony worlds of the Council was named Igeramad, and is, in any sense of
the word, a fortress. We were intercepted by a cruiser-sized monitor ship, and won the brief engagement.
The ship surrendered with all hands, but the second monitor ship was too remote to attack, and vanished
into the asteroid fields. The Magos single-handedly took out a monitor station, and we approached the
planet unmolested.

The world was, as I have said before, a veritable fortress. Both polar caps were titanic fortresses, with
sunken macrobatteries and lance weapons equal to a battleship, at least. An equatorial defense fortress
provided further support, while the capitol hive itself had a few defensive turrets and a city-wide void-
shield.

I decided to try diplomacy. After all, with such formidable defences, a direct assault would be a waste of
resources, not to mention a terrible risk. If the Duke of Blood could be reasoned (and coerced) into the
Imperial fold once again, perhaps the governor of this planet would be similarly influenced by my
reasoning.

Sadly, it was not to be. Though we were granted landing clearance and passage to Governor Leer‟s
personal reception chamber, a deep and fortified chamber, negotiations did not go as planned. We were
first forced to give up our weapons, thought the Magos kept his “walking staff”, and my concealed
inferno pistol remained undetected.

The Governor, on the other hand, had a pair of plasma pistols and a fine sword, as well as a good suit of
light power armour. Negotiations were rather strange: he insisted that we were now his hostages (his men
did outnumber us 30 to 1), and we insisted that he was ours (there was nary a heavy weapon in sight, and
we had Magos Robertson).

At the thought of giving control of his world back to the Imperium and the Adeptus Terra, he flew into a
spitting rage. It was clear we would not be able to reason with him, and so initiated Plan B: Murder
everyone. I used my grapple-line to fly over the heads of the half-circle of armsmen, and landed by the
now-closed blast-doors. Sadly, my weapons were locked on the other side, and I had to make do with a
captured augtogun. The Magos was a figure of near divine terror, as he slew bodyguards left and right.
Many fled rather than face him, their minds broken by his sheer invulnerable determination (and, or so he
tells me “subsonic fear-inducing chanting”).

He only had to kill eight before they surrendered. I think that the main reason for their surrender, aside
from the Magos‟ swath of destruction, was that they had run out of ammo.
Magos Plan B. Robertson had been hit by over 1200 rounds at close range, and yet had emerged totally
unscathed. Spent casings and bullets formed ankle-deep drifts at the centre of the room. My field had
protected me from the few opportunistic shots that had come my way, though the last volley had
overloaded the powerfield and blown the cells. I had to replace them at the conclusion of the firefight.

78
The Governor had honestly fainted at the sight of Magos Robertson doing his work, and, before the true
fight had finished, I swung over on my grapple-hook. When he woke up, I was standing over him, his
power-sword in my hand, blade at his neck. I think he started to weep then, and didn‟t let up for several
minutes. His troops, though they had put up a spirited fight, lost all resolve. We disarmed them, and the
Magos personally crushed their autoguns to prevent future use.

He also drained Governor Leer‟s power armour of vital charge, leaving the former Imperial servant
trapped in a metal casing. We opened the blast-doors, and the few half-mad bodyguards still terrified of
the Magos fled, but were cut down by their own compatriots! After some negotiation, the Magos, using
the Governor as a shield, retrieved our weapons, and we released the rest of the bodyguards. There were
several hundred troops outside the door, and I had no desire to fight them all, so we closed the blast-door
and continued further into the palace.

Our hostage was an excellent guide, motivated solely by fear of our miraculous reversal of his plan. We
gained access to his private cogitator controls: he practically threw the key-codes at us. The Magos shut
down the void-shield, scrambled the targeters of the defence platforms, and transmitted a signal to orbit.

The assault began with orbital fire, hitting key defensive positions and bunkers in the city, and generally
awing the populace. Our landers came next: two thousand troops, mostly to take the Governor‟s palace
and other key Imperial structures. They encountered little resistance, and we took few casualties. A stray
lance shot, however, did hit the palace (the Duke of Blood is not a very good shot), and the blast of
superheated air scorched the Governor (and, incidentally, burnt his concubines and several hundred
armsmen into cinders).

We began an intensive propaganda campaign, revealing the perfidious deeds of the Council and the
willing heresy of the Governor. The southern polar fortress and the equatorial station both surrendered
willingly, but the northern fortress, independently commanded by another minor member of the Council,
refused.

After consulting the Duke of Blood, we agreed that an example needed to be made. Unfortunately, a
simple attack would be impossible: at least two thousand troops defended the fort, and the main portion of
it rested beneath thick polar ice and deep cold ocean.

We entered low orbit, nigh atmospheric, and in one pass destroyed most of the surface structures of the
base. Though the defences scored a few hits, we emerged largely unscathed. The mercenary troops
suffered greatly in the capture of the base, but after a week of bloody fighting we succeeded. The Magos
and I led a few strike-forced; I with my bodyguard, he with his murder-servitors, but we were more of a
propaganda effort than any decisive military force.

During this time the second monitor ship, with stealthy running, approached the planet and commenced a
brief bombardment before being brought into compliance through superior firepower.

We left a pacification and peacekeeping force on the planet, after installing or promoting our own leaders.
Most of the citizens are entirely in favour of the occupation and the reconversion to the true Imperial way,
and I expect that the colony will flourish.

Would have flourished. Would have.

Damn.

The Magos had found the coordinates and warp-routes to the next colony of the Council, and we made
good speed. The warp was calmer here, but the colony was not.

79
The system‟s star, a fierce neutron-pulsar type, had scoured the face of the one rocky planet, Mulcibet
Minor, the site of the colony. Scans revealed the reason for a colony on this blasted world: deposits of
pure adamantium, easily accessible by drone-ship or crawler.

The colony itself was buried in the thick crust of the planet, with a few docks and spires protruding. The
defences were nothing to speak of, and indeed, did not see use. Through negotiations from orbit with the
planet‟s Governor (and a generous promise of future trade agreements), the Council‟s hold on this world
was broken.

Unfortunately, the location of the next colony was stored in the cogitator system deep within the colony‟s
extensive library. Unfortunately, another member of the council has passed through earlier, and
accidentally burnt a few books. The archivists had rioted and locked down the library, and had come to a
standoff with the local enforcers.

We broke the standoff, but, unfortunately, my lightning arc, used in self-defence against a hatchet-tossing
scribe, set him (and a fair portion of the library) ablaze by accident. It‟s rather ironic, really, but I was too
busy organizing sand-chains to extinguish the fire to appreciate it.

I was also able to... liberate... a few rare volumes while I was assisting in the firefighting efforts. A
particular volume, “A Pilgrim‟s Journey: From Terra to the Far Expanse” was the very volume from
which the Council drew their debased inspiration. Inquisitor Torqk was quite interested in the volume,
when we eventually reunited with him.

Just before we departed for the third and final colony, I received a transmission... from myself. The
transmission was garbled, but still decipherable by my Astropaths. My suspicions were confirmed: the
planet we were headed towards was the site of the Council‟s warp-dabbling. I instructed myself not to fire
upon the transport I would find in system, as it was packed with sacrificial psykers. When I had done so, I
reported, etheric energies had lanced from the planet, destroying my ships and nearly killing me. I had, in
a desperate attempt to warn myself, used the peculiar warp-shoals in the area to send a message through
time itself, though the effort was sure to be the end of the Astropaths.

Forewarned, we approached the system with caution. The colony was on the planet designated Eta Beta
Omicron-2, a dead world in lockstep orbit around a single, dying star. One side faced eternally faced
inwards, the other looked to the void. The only structure we could detect was a single prefab complex.

Flood met us in the outer system. His cruiser had suffered terrible damage, he informed us, from the
mines concealed in the many drifting asteroids ringing the planet and dotting the system. His narrow
escape was providential for us, and we proceeded inwards with caution.

Rather, I and my ships proceeded with caution. The Duke of Blood, ever impetuous, clipped a mine on
the journey in. The explosion damn near tore his engines off, and he was forced to limp out of system.

I had left the Rozencrantz at the edges of the system, along with Flood‟s damaged Scintillan Typhoon and,
now, the Duke of Blood, and moved in with just the Bane, the Blade, and the Business. I expected little
resistance the colony was, according to Flood, a sort of prison, with no orbital defences to speak of.

The Corpulent Dame and Lord Otto were waiting for us, close to the planet. My demands for his
surrender met with naught but insults and jeers. Despite the lessons of history, he seemed confident that
his cruiser could defeat two frigates and raider with little trouble. He was fatally mistaken.

With perfect synchronization of fire control and flawless precision, we turned the Dame into a wreck with
a single pass, taking but superficial damage in return. I know not whether Lord Otto perished then or in
subsequent events, and, in truth, I do not care. That meddling, cursed, damned fool deserved a worse
death than I was able to provide.

80
The good Inquisitor Torqk had preceded us, carried here, I presume, by his lackey Flood. I landed my
Argus next to his gun-cutter. We landed alone, for I suspected the taint of Chaos, and it would be unfair to
ask my armsmen to accompany the Magos and I on such a dangerous mission. My psykers detected a
noticeable aura of panic even from orbit, and the terrified minds of several hundred low-level psykers.

The only features of interest near the gun-cutter were several corpses of minor psykers, dead from
exposure to the freezing temperatures and biting winds of this side of the planet. Evidently, the landers
that Lord Otto had dispatched to the prison colony had been bearing psykers, who had then been marched
out here, for purpose unknown.

Further investigation of the surrounding area revealed a sort of passageway cut into the rock. We
proceeded in, navigating by disturbed dust and dropped ilume-sticks; the Inquisitor, if he had come this
way, was apparently hot on the trail of the psykers. We sprinted ever downwards.

The corridors were featureless, regular, and entirely alien. For whatever reason, the construction and
proportions did not feel human, or even warp-tainted. After about half an hour of sprinting, we came to a
large, spherical chamber. We were just in time to see Inquisitor Torqk execute some hapless solider...
while suspended one hundred and fifty feet above the lowest point of the chamber.

Through some blasphemous miracle of technology, the room had a sort of invisible floor. More than two
hundred psykers and, as it transpired, a few of the extremely rare “nulls”, or psychic blanks, crowded the
room, along with the bodies of several guards, killed in the process of some foul daemonic summoning
ritual, or so I presumed.

Some things didn‟t add up, however. As we spoke with Inquisitor Torqk, things became even more
confusing. With the Magos‟ built-in illumination, we examined the upper portion of the sphere. A strange
series of... etchings or metal-inlaid petroglyphs dominated the surface. I have examined them since (the
Magos maintaining a perfect copy in his memory), and can draw a few conclusions.

Lowest was a map of the Expanse, though nigh unrecognizable as the stars were millennia out of position.
The location of the Processional of the Damned was clearly marked by a unique circuit-rune. Above, a
sphere around the Expanse, expanding outwards from the Processional.

The Inquisitor and I agreed that the Council, seeing these runes and signs, had sought to bring about this
“sphere of protection”. By a leap of logic only a true madman could have made, they must have reasoned
that sacrificing pyskers would bring about this sphere.

At the time, I thought their efforts had failed utterly. Inquisitor Torqk, his assassin, and his personal
sanction psyker had executed all the guards before we arrived. Only one of the captive psykers had been
sacrificed, and we counted ourselves lucky. We were forced to radically reevaluate that position when all
the psykers died.

They died suddenly, in the midst of speech or action. The Magos, myself, Torqk, and his assassin were all
unharmed, but entirely unnerved. The “nulls” merely stared straight ahead and began to sink through the
invisible floor. Though we rushed to help, we were unable to save any. (The Magos, in his excitement,
forgot the breaking strength of a human shoulder and pulled the arm clean off one unfortunate anti-witch).

Green sigils, hitherto concealed, appeared around the circumference of the invisible floor.
Simultaneously, we heard a distinct skittering approaching the room. The Magos and I took up defensive
positions facing the lone doorway, and the Inquisitor followed suit, dual pistols out. His assassin was
stuck ineffectually using throwing knives.

81
Seconds after the last of the nulls came to rest at the bottom of the sphere, dozens of beetle-like
mechanical constructs began to flow from the doorway. Each time we dispatched a wave, another would
take its place. We were lucky to dart out in a brief lull.

Unfortunately, the corridor had changed. They had been swept clear, and I was certain that the
arrangement of intersections was different. While the Magos advocated going to the left, the Inquisitor
and his assassin went right. This way, I reasoned, one party was more likely to escape. I hoped it would
be ours. After a few minutes of frantic fleeing (always away from the skittering noises), we found a tunnel
leading into the light. Our way was blocked, however, by two skeletal mechanical forms, bearing wicked-
looking rifles that sputtered with strange green light.

Their opening shots went wide, and the Magos and I returned fire, cutting them down in a single volley.
Nonetheless they rose again, their crippling wounds healing before our very eyes. It took several more
volleys to keep them from rising, and even then their hideous forms faded from reality before us. Damned
be the enemies that I can‟t loot!

We sprinted forth, exiting near our original point of descent, only to discover five more skeletal warriors
in the process of blasting my Argus lighter to bits with their strange weapons. We took them down from
range: though their weapons are powerful, they are easily dodged or avoided. Each warrior, however,
returned to “life” several times before being finally put down and vanishing.

I was about to order the Magos to start decrypting the locks on the Inquisitor‟s untouched gun-cutter
when the man himself (and that accursed silent assassin) came barrelling at full speed out of the mouth of
the catacombs.

We blasted off as the planet shifted below us. Through the clouds of freezing dust I could barely make out
titanic black shapes rising from the rock. One smashed through the prison complex as if it were made of
matchsticks, and kept rising.

The Inquisitor‟s pilot narrowly avoided a crackling whip of lightning that followed us after takeoff, and
we thought, once we reached orbit, that we had escaped the worst. How very wrong we were.
Yorick‘s Bane met us, as my other two ships were attempting salvage operations. We declined to board,
however, and sped straight for the wreck of the Corpulent Dame. We were pursued by a strange crescent-
shaped vessel closing at improbably speeds. Worse still, our augers were detecting multiple similar (or
larger) signatures on the far side of the planet, rising from their dusty tombs.

The good Inquisitor was kind enough to wait for the Magos and I as we rushed aboard the crippled ship.
With incredible skill, and my aid (in keeping watch), Magos Robertson succeeded in rigging the ship‟s
miraculously undamaged warp drive for remote detonation. We fled back to the gun-cutter, and then back
to my fleet. Our pursuer was gaining fast, and I barely reached the bridge before the Magos detonated the
Dame’s drive.

The sudden warp-realspace explosion was the most powerful I have ever witnessed. The initial shock did
little harm to us, but it converted most of the surface of Eta Beta Omicron-2 into glass and ash. The
widening vortex pulled in our pursuer, as well as wreaking all manner of havoc on the planet below. At
last auspex reading, a full third of the crust and core had been consumed and rendered into powder.
Unfortunately, the Envenomed Blade and the Fifth Business, being somewhat slower, were caught in the
vortex and pulled into the widening maw of the Warp itself. The Magos assured me that our speed, with
his aid, was sufficient to escape the vortex.

Some have called me a heartless wretch, a man willing to sacrifice any number of subordinates for profit
or safety. Such slanders show false in the light of my deeds, for I ordered the Magos to assist as I turned
the ship hard about. With incredible skill, I flipped the Bane end over end, and we launched ourselves into
the maw of Hell itself.

82
As we powered up our Gellar field (and pumped some sedatives into the Navigator), I tried to convince
Inquisitor Torqk to depart. Unwilling to show cowardice, he refused, so I had him escorted to his gun-
cutter at rifle-point and forcibly ejected. Someone had to warn the Imperium, and, once that was
complete, tell my story.

Our chances of survival were not good. Despite the protective nature of our ship‟s Gellar field and
warpsbane hull, the Blade and Business were not so well protected. We passed between the two ships, and
fired boarding lines, towing chains, and even the anchor at them, with hastily improvised expanding
heads. The plan worked, and the two ships were taken in tow.

We made an unplanned exit as soon as possible, bursting into the Materium quite out of position. We
barely had time to get our bearings when the strange disk-shaped ship followed us out. Unwilling, in our
damaged state, to risk a battle, we once more engaged in an unplanned warp jump.

And that is where we sit now, in a curious system nestled in the Void Dancer‟s Roil. We have little time
to repair and rescue survivors from the two ships, for I have no doubt daemons now infest them
thoroughly. Dray, miraculously, seems to have survived, and holds the bridge and spire of the Blade. I
have had barely enough time to scratch this down and do some preliminary research into our foe. The
Astropaths, deafened by the storms, cannot raise Ultionis or Footfall, and so we are cut off from news of
the Expanse.

The Necrontyr. Detestable and accursed and forever damned be the Council. Emperor, let Lord Otto have
survived long enough to suffer in the Warp, and let his soul be lost there for all eternity. The fools sought
to create a paradise in the Expanse by raising some foul and ancient power. Time will tell how they failed.

83
Chapter the Eighteenth
We managed to rescue a few thousand crew from the Fifth Business. Due to our depleted arms and
soldiery, the Magos recommended we abandon one of the ships and liberate the other. Perhaps, in a few
years, the daemonic taint aboard the Business will have diminished, and we can return it to Imperial
service. After all, the location is most cunningly concealed by warp-storms of unabating fury.

Dray, poor Dray, was holed up on the bridge of the Blade. He‟d had to kill his Navigator, and the
Astropaths took several hundred crew with them. The survivors were keeping to the upper spine of the
ship, praying for relief.

The Magos and I boarded at the prow, along with twenty-five armsmen, sending the other twenty-five to
assist the bridge in repelling the daemons. As we approached the ship we were unnerved to see the
running lights and guidance beacons fully functional. We were politely guided in by automated systems.
The hold was well-lit, fully pressurized, and neatly swept. Although we didn‟t relax our guard, the
atmosphere was almost reassuring. The sense of calm vanished when the armsmen did.

I was instantly alone, in some sort of candle-lit throne chamber. The walls were decorated with frescoes
of my many exploits, and the ceiling was decorated with my image, triumphant. Knowing that the
Ruinous Powers corrupt through vanity, I ignored the suggestions, instead prayed and taunted the
daemonic forces that surrounded me invisibly.

When one appeared in the form of a lissom and scanitly dressed woman, I was ready. It damn near lost an
arm before fleeing. Fething daemons! Sneaking up on me!

I barged about through more rooms, refuting temptations at every turn. Anything that wriggled or
waggled got a frag grenade or a blessed bolter round for its troubles. After about twenty minutes of
shouting, and to the increasing frustration of the voices in my head, I managed to find my way to the
bridge.

The Magos arrived by a different road (one which involved considerably more fighting, as he was coated
in blood and ichor to the waist). At the entrance to the bridge, however, we were delayed. Our armsmen
and several crewmen lounged about on silken pillows, with some daemonettes tossing them grapes and
laughing. While I considered executing them all for heresy (and idleness, from whence springeth heresy),
I contented myself with slaughtering the daemonettes. We attempted to board the bridge, but they refused.
After all, the daemons had been impersonating me for the past few hours.

They would let me enter provided I slew “the Temptress”, the chief of these foul daemons, who had been
taunting them from the captain‟s quarters. The Magos and I marched there, kicking doors open all the
way, and burst into the main quarters with a blast of gunfire. The foul daemon tried one last temptation,
but, with scorn, the Magos and I gunned it down.

The cleansing of the rest of the ship was relatively easy. The surviving crew rallied around me, and, with
the daemonsong no longer putting thoughts of idleness into their heads, we routed the daemons in short
order. Most of our missing armsmen were located more or less intact. I ordered triple church services,
punishment for lewd behaviour, punishment for enjoying punishment, and holy water shots for everyone.

We transferred our spare navigator aboard (Oh foresight! Oh clever me!) and made best speed for
Ultionis. Best speed was, tragically, one full year. (Oh damnable Navigator! Oh cursed three-eyes!) I
expected to be welcomed as one returned from the grave, or as a conquering hero, for I was sure that the
Necrontyr had been utterly destroyed by my suicidal gambit. How wrong I was.

84
The journey that had taken us a full year and reduced us to eating boot leather only took four weeks of
time in the materium. Four weeks! Damn damn damn damn damn!

And we didn‟t even get a party! Instead, we got Eldar. Accursed pointy-eared treacherous lecherous
damned Eldar! Worst of all, they were on our side. Yes, the Eldar had, in a fit of whimsy so common to
their race, switched sides.

We met aboard the Cardinal Boras, the ancient and storied Retribution-class Battleship of the Crusade
fleet. I‟ve attached the fleet registry, for future reference, but the Navy alone had amassed forty ships in
the Ultionis system. Flood and the good Duke had both survived their encounter with the minefield, and
were attempting repairs in low orbit around the budding forge-world. We couldn‟t count the Eldar: our
estimates ranged from 5 to several dozen.

Our meeting was brief. The Commodore, Lord Inquisitor Torqk, Flood, the Duke, myself, the Magos, and
a few Eldar. The Inquisitor and I were the only humans who spoke the Eldar language, and thus got the
most out of the conversations.

We discussed the Necrontry at length. Though I had damaged one of their worlds and destroyed a few
ships, I had barely scratched the surface. The Necrontry had been raiding worlds up and down the
Expanse, leaving nothing alive. They had heard nothing from Igeramad or Mulcibet Minor for three
weeks. We‟d even heard unconfirmed reports of raids within the borders of the Calixis Sector itself.

Torqk gave us access to every scrap of information the Holy Ordos had on the Necrontry. It was a blank
sheet of parchment; he asked us to fill in the details as we learned more.

I had good cause to fill it in as the Farseer, the same we fought on the Dread Pearl, discussed in esoteric
terms the history of our mutual foe. In the earliest days of the Galaxy, before Mankind asserted our
dominance, the Necrons lived and died. They mastered the esoteric arts of Dark Science, creating ever
more powerful engines of war. But even their powers over matter could not stop their own, inevitable,
deaths. In their quest for everlasting life, they found and worshipped strange star-gods, the C‟tan. In
exchange for the loss of their immortal souls and bodies of flesh, the C‟tan gave the Necrontyr bodies of
living metal.

The Necrontry waged war on all that lived, as they had no lives of their own. They drove back the Eldar
and a thousand other races, but, for a reason the Eldar was reluctant to disclose, were driven into a sort of
hibernation, waiting for, as the Eldar tell it, life of a palatable flavour to return. And the damn Council
had woken a slew of them up, for no reason at all.

Amongst this wonderful news, we received even better news! That sphere, coming out of the Processional
of the Damned was... something. Even the Eldar, full of grace and cleverness, didn‟t have a clue. Their
best-case scenario was an awakening star-god. Whatever it was, it was cancelling out the Warp as it
expanded, preventing warp travel entirely within its confines. While we could jump in to any location, the
perfectly smooth warp meant we couldn‟t leave with warp-drives. Even the Eldar would be stranded if we
entered. And it was expanding; within a few months we wouldn‟t have a choice. But to halt it, we would
need to enter, and fight the Necrons at their worlds. Perhaps, the Eldar said, we could quiet them and their
god-sphere. Perhaps...

Luckily, the sphere was calming the warp even outside its radius, making travel within the Expanse quick
and near painless. Even with the crusade fleet and the Eldar (if they didn‟t flee at the first sign of trouble),
I was unsure of our chances of success. I put forward the idea that the Magos and I would do a quick run
into the Sector, secure ground forces and whatever else we could get our hands on, and return to stage a
massive hammer-blow at the Necrons. It was risky; every day more would wake, but we lacked the
support we needed for a planetary assault.

85
It was settled then and there. The Inquisitor, who had business preparing the fleet and keeping tempers in
check, would remain behind, but would invest his power with two acolytes. I would act as their keeper,
but they would bear full Inquisitorial power.

We made good speed for Footfall. The Blade, though damaged, was crewed well, and discipline was
tight, and the Bane held together quite well. In Footfall, we rented every Astropath in the place and sent
out a massive transmission, calling all Rogue Traders and other interested parties to a meeting in two
months time. It would be a Grand Conventicle, and everyone with a Warrant and a warp-capable ship
would be given a seat. Calling a Conventicle, while theoretically possible, had only ever been attempted
once before (105 M.41), and resulted in the near-total annihilation of Footfall in the resulting brawl.

From Footfall, we sped for the Lathes. His Invincible Will had been repaired fully, cleansed, and upgraded
wherever possible. The gleaming autoloaders of the port and starboard macrocannons were a source of
great pride, and the prow shone with ceramite and pure white paint. The halls smelt of rosemary and
chemical cleansers. The damage of three centuries had been repaired, and my ship hummed with power. It
was good to be home.

Scintilla was next. I called in a few favours and managed to secure an audience with Lord Sector Hax. He
was not pleased to see me, but my word and the Inquisitor‟s seal were enough to convince him our words
were true. He expedited the deployment of the 41 regiments of Dragoons of Clove, and gave his political
support to our cause.

Our second-to-last stop was Idumea, madness-shrouded forgeworld. We had sent word ahead, and were
greeted with fanfare and mercantile deals. While the acolytes and I spoke with the Tomb Brothers, the
Magos secured, through contacts multifarious, several maniples of Skitaari, knight-titans, and armoured
vehicles. The Mechanicus were going to war. Perhaps the Magos deceived them, perhaps he bribed them,
or perhaps he killed anyone who spoke against him; I know not. But they march nevertheless.

We also purchased damn near every krak grenade on the planet, as the Munitorium was too reluctant and
too slow to release the volume we needed to “our” troops. At last count, we loaded over 70 million
grenades into the great holds, stacked tightly guarded vigilantly. We also purchased several million drum-
fed personal grenade launchers, for distribution. Our finances would be stretched thin, but we were told
we could sell the launchers back to Idumea at the conclusion of the conflict.

The Tomb Brothers, after some negotiation and Inquisitorial pressure, agreed to dispatch one of their
great battle-barges and an undisclosed number of Astartes. I was pleased to see some familiar faces as I
toured their ship, and, I dare say, some were pleased to see me. We were marching for war with the
Angels of Death at our side.

Our final stop was the hive-world of Clove. A pleasant place, a guard muster point, and now a great
staging point. With the Mechanicus fleet and the five great Imperial Guard transports, we ponderously
moved towards the Maw, across the Sector once more. The regiments were well-drilled, but fresh, and
they needed backbone. Our mercenaries had quit at Footfall, citing a lack of pay and extreme danger.
Perhaps some other Rogue Trader would hire them for the coming war and save us the expense.
Footfall, when we finally reached it, was a hub of activity. Scores of plasma drives burnt in the void, and
half the station was consumed in brawling, debauchery, and the usual business of Rogue Traders. Some
fool had kidnapped Lady von Wulfenbach‟s pet grox, and was being chased round the station by a few
dozen bodyguards, lead by the good Trader herself. The chase was somewhat slowed by the good lady‟s
tendency to stop at every tavern she passed. In another corner, the crew of the good ship Banshee were
engaged a shouting match with Winterscale and a few of his cronies, while Abel Gerrit, somehow
recovered from his near-fatal injuries on the Dread Pearl, was duelling a missionary of the Imperial Creed
over some perceived slight. After all, the plural of Rogue Trader is war.

86
The Conventicle was scheduled for noon, station time. By then, most of the Traders and their hangers-on
had crowded into the Governor‟s ballroom, jockeying for space around a raised dais. The Traders were
roughly evenly spaced, and the Magos had hired servo-skulls to float over each party‟s head, revealing
their name and title. For some reason, the one for the absent Eramsus Haarlock was given a wide berth.

I stood on the dais, flanked by two Astartes, the Inquisitorial acolytes, the Magos, and, for some reason,
Calligos Winterscale. He thought that, because he had the only battleship in local space, he had some
right to speak, but I didn‟t let him get more than a few words in. Everyone knew who held the real power.

I spoke on the nature of the threat facing the Expanse. I was as open and frank as possible, concealing
nothing. The Magos displayed images and footage of our brief encounters, and the Inquisitorial acolytes
revealed all they knew. The mob was somewhat moved, but the real motivation came from my revelation
that the Ordos Xenos, the Mechanicus, and damn near anyone else would pay handsomely for examples
of Necrontyr technology.

The motion was acclaimed nigh-unanimously, and the combined and disparate fleet left for Ultionis, the
muster-point of our Crusade. The Guard transports were placed in the combined care of the Astartes and
Winterscale until they reached their destination. I had other business in the Expanse, and would not be
accompanying them directly.

I had received word from envoys from both parties that Lady Sun Lee and Lord Admiral Bastille were
warring in some nearby system. Normally, I would have let them be or intervened on the side of Sun Lee,
(Bastille has a naval baton crammed so far up his backside it makes him sneeze), but a greater matter was
at hand, and I needed every ship and ally I could find. My escorts and I made for the system. I don‟t think
anyone had even bothered naming it, so pointless and near-worthless was its existence.

Bastille had, in a characteristic fit of poor planning, destroyed one of Sun Lee‟s frigates. In anger, she had
pursued him to his mining colony here, and was raiding whatever she could. Bastille and his escorts were
trapped in orbit around the colony, itself orbiting a gas-giant.

I attempted to settle the feud, but was unsuccessful. Negotiations were interrupted first when Sun Lee‟s
two remaining frigates swept in and burnt some colony buildings to the ground, and then interrupted a
second time by strange sensor contacts moving rapidly into the system. The Magos informed me that they
resembled the lone Necrontyr ship which had pursued us in the Eta Beta Omicron system.

Ignoring the other two Traders, I moved my ships into combat formation. Mere minutes later, the
Necrontyr vessels decelerated rapidly, quite nearby. Bastille and Sun Lee put aside their differences when
they saw the hideous speed and effectiveness of these vessels, and turned to fight.

There were three of them. Two smaller ships, crescent-shaped, similar to the one that pursued us through
warp and fire, and a larger, curious ship. It had three blade-like wings attached orthogonal to a crescent-
shaped hull, and sported a long propulsion or stabilization tail.

The two Necrontyr escorts closed, firing at Sun Lee‟s two frigates in the gravity well of the planet. Arcs
of green lightning and tore and flashed, and in the space of ten minutes had torn a proud Sword-class to
fragments. We rounded on the largest ship, firing with all guns. Our salvoes dented its hull, doing little
damage, but we did seem to impair its weapon systems. With incredible grace it orbited the planet,
coming about from our starboard arc to our port so rapidly it could hardly be believed.

The larger ship‟s path took it near Colossus, Bastille‟s cruiser. After the battle, we discovered that it had
been boarded by hordes of Necrontyr warrior and scarab constructs, who did much damage before
vanishing. The footage and auspex readings from that boarding action would later prove quite useful.

87
The Magos, perhaps the only crewman aboard able to precisely track the movements of our enemies,
ripple-fired macrocannon shells and lance strikes. We did considerable damage, and nearly severed one of
the three wing-like projections, before the ships faded from reality. Damnable Necrontyr and their
cowardly attitudes! Fleeing from a battle before you‟ve truly lost is so... impolite!

Fully impressed with the dangers of the Necrontyr threat, the two Traders negotiated a hasty truce, and
followed me out of system. Bastille and his ships would go to Ultionis, while Sun Lee and I were to make
another detour. The good Lady had heard of a pirate gathering in a nearby nebula, to discuss the same
matter as the Conventicle of Footfall. After all, their trade would be hit hard by the loss of the Expanse,
and alone they had little chance of stopping the Necrontyr. The Sanyay clan and the blasphemous
followers of Karrad Vall had vowed to oppose any dealings with their Navy foes, while other, less
blasphemous, groups had decided to band together and take the fight to the Necrontyr.

Once again, we dropped into the middle of a brawl. After the fact, we gathered some insults had been
exchanged, and war amongst the clans had broken out. Fully sixty ships were firing on each other in small
groups, with appalling accuracy for such a close-range engagement.

We fell among them, firing wildly. Any ships who did not promptly identify themselves as our allies were
fired upon, and we scattered the uncooperative clans. Those who wished to follow us did so. I briefed
them on the nature and disposition of our foe, indicating that their ships were vulnerable to close-range
boarding actions, and were absolutely laden with treasure. This falsehood should ensure the demise of a
fair fraction of pirates, buying us time and surprise, and perhaps dragging down a few enemy ships by
luck as well.

Ultionis, the staging point for our great Crusade, awaits with every ship I could muster. The fleet departs
as soon as I arrive, for death, glory, and the continued profitability of the Expanse. I doubt the Necrontyr,
despite the fear-shrouded words of the Eldar, can stand against us.

88
Chapter the Nineteenth
I have discovered a quite useful strategy when combating the Necrontyr; shoot the big ones. Also, don‟t
get shot yourself. That‟s always pleasant.

After securing the pirates, organizing the fleet, speaking with the Eldar, placating various Rogue Traders
and their handlers, taunting the Commodore, and generally being completely vital to the security and
continued function of the Crusade, we launched. One hundred and thirty warp-capable ships (or so, for
the damn Eldar are difficult to count), including a battle-barge, five massive Guard transports, and a total
of five battleships, all bound for the Processional of the Damned.

The Farseer had indicated that this was our best target, the place where we would strike the Necrontyr and
destroy their holdings in the Expanse. Even with their best prognostication, the Eldar didn‟t have a clue
what would await us there, or, if they did, weren‟t about to tell it to the likes of us. Nevertheless, as the
Eldar were coming with us, I felt that a modicum of trust was in order.

We exited the warp nearly a week from the strange and blasphemous star, and barely had time to enter
formation before the Necrontyr struck. With incredible speed, a huge fleet closed in on our position.
Reviewing the records, we were faced with 40-odd ships, including three titanic and ponderous capital-
class vessels.

The frigates were the hardest hit. As the Necrontyr raiders struck, the pirates and lighter craft were the
hardest hit. We lost all but one Cobra-class destroyer by the battle‟s conclusion, and the pirate clans
suffered heavy losses.

Behind the swift raiders, the Necrontyr cruiser-classes approached. Light cruiser formation Aleph was
struck first. The Baron Sauarcrat was set ablaze from prow to stern, and suffered ten waves of teleport
boarding actions. Her captain, the indefatigable Baron, organized a spirited defence, and managed to save
her ship. Though the good Baron took no further part in the battle, she did survive mostly intact once the
fires were extinguished.

The Blood and Thunder, rushing to the air of her squadronmate, was destroyed utterly by a looming
capital-class vessel. Vast forks of lightning tore her to pieces before our eyes, sending chunks of hull and
armour in every direction. Malfia’s Revenge was hulked minutes later, speared clean through a second
capital-class ship. Her atmosphere boiling and plasma leaking in every direction, she drifts in the outer
system even now.

The Uziel fell with all guns blazing, flayed by combined fire from the supporting cruiser-class vessels
thronging around the Necrontyr capital-ships.

While the escorts tried to hold the capital-ships in place, a desperate plan was organized in the second
line. With the four massive nova cannons in our fleet, we targeted the capital ships en masse. It took eight
blasts to bring down one, and a further four to take down the second. The entire time, our cruisers
engaged the Necrontyr at range, blasting several of their ships to fragments.

We ourselves were pursued by a few raiders and escorts, but the Magos‟ precise gunnery blasted them to
fragments. Unfortunately, three cruiser-class vessels, similar in design to the three-sailed vessel we
encountered whilst “recruiting” Lady Sun Lee and Bastille, snuck up on us, firing at our formation.
Though or ship was the only one hit, we suffered considerable damage. Boarding actions by the Necrons
were unsuccessful, as our defenders trapped them with massed grenades and shotcannon.

89
The Mechanicus were also hit hard. Their formations were tasked with escorting the Guard transports and
the battle-barge in system. One Mechanicus escort‟s warp drive unfortunately imploded, destroying other
members of its formation and damaging several other ships. Most dreadful of all was the loss of one of
the Imperial Guard transports, which was sucked bodily in to the warp and torn to pieces. Five million
men and support staff were destroyed in an instant. Luckily, the battle-barge and all but one cruiser
amongst the other ships escaped the swirling vortex.

The Eldar ships, ever swift, destroyed some number of Necrontyr escorts and scorched the armour of a
capital-class vessel. It was our nova cannon fire that finally brought them down. Though the Fist of Fury
was hulked, reducing our firepower by a full quarter, the other ships combined fire to tear the mechanical
heart from the Necrontyr fleet. It was our lance fire, however, that damaged the third capital ship enough
to convince it to phase out. With that, the battle was won, as the Necrontyr fleet phased out entirely,
fleeing back to whatever dark abyss from whence they came.

I should make a mention of the other Rogue Traders here. I should, but I won‟t. The cowardly and
ineffectual bastards skulked about on the far port flank, doing no damage whatsoever. On the other hand,
they are entirely undamaged.

We are moving into the system now. Scans show that the debris field around the Processional is still in
place, but we are planning to blast our way in rather than risk manoeuvring or impact damage. In the
centre, rather than the dark star, sit three Necrontyr worlds, with a black and miasmatic vortex swirling
between them.

One of the worlds has the highest concentration of energy signatures, and that will be our target. After all,
that is where most of the loot is likely to be, if my interpretation of the Eldar Farseer‟s words is correct.
The Eldar words for “loot” and “horrible and painful death by flaying” are quite similar, and I hope I am
not mistaken. We will be landing two of the Guard transports. The Space Marines, in their inscrutable
wisdom, have declined to reveal their plans, while the Eldar will be following me down. They, after all,
have some unrevealed mission, and I‟m coming along whether they like it or not.

We go to death, or to glory, for the defence of the Expanse and of the Imperium as a whole. I will stop the
Necrontyr here, on this world, or I will die trying. And should I go before the Emperor, I will go with my
head held high, for I have done my duty and more. Ave Imperator! We charge in sixteen hours!

90
Chapter the Twentieth
On wings of fire we dropped. The Tomb Brothers battle-barge entered low orbit, firing its massive
bombardment cannon and launching drop-pods and Thunderhawks in every direction. The Mechanicus
too deployed their enhanced legions, while two of the massive Guard transports landed and began
deploying their innumerable soldiers, artillery pieces, and tanks. Even the Eldar, swift and terrible,
conducted raids at key junctures. In the debris cloud and in high orbit, the Navy battled the remnants of
the Necrontyr fleet, while Rogue Traders duelled, landed, argued, or slunk off to loot.

And it was all a distraction. We were the true strike. Three Chimeras and an Eldar Wave-Serpent flying
tank. Deployed by modified landers and guided by the ineffable Farseer, we would strike deep at the heart
of the massive Necron tomb-complex, delivering a killing blow to the Necrontyr, their leaders, and their
rumoured star-god.

Each Chimera had its turret removed, and instead hauled a massive explosive device prepared by the
Tech-Priest. He assured me that, though the device was not a Forbidden Atomic, the effects would be
quite similar. The Eldar, of course, did not carry crude explosives. Their mission within the Tomb was
unknown, and remains unknown even now. Damnable Eldar and their reclusive ways!

I rode in the lead Chimera with four armsmen and the Magos, while the other two vehicles carried twelve
Dragoons each. We hit the surface speeding. The only illumination came from our own lights, flares and
artillery streaking overhead, orbital fire, and the sickly green glow of Necrontyr artifice.

The entrance to the tomb (or, at least, the entrance we picked, on the advice of the Farseer) was a massive
sunken doorway. Before we could reach it, however, we had to deal with the guardians of the tomb.
Skimmers, insectile from the waist down and Necrontyr from the waist up, several dozen of some form of
heavy warrior, and a few scarabs. Their opening volley caught our Chimera, spun it about, and flipped it
end over end. Luckily, we emerged unharmed and the explosive did not detonate prematurely.

The Magos was the first out, kicking the rear hatch open and launching it several hundred metres through
the air. His storm bolter volleys (for this mission he decided to wield two wrist-mounted MIU-linked
storm-bolters) tore into the skimmers, bringing them down. The other Chimeras‟ heavy weapons tore into
the Necrontyr ranks, bringing many down. Once I extricated myself from the Chimera (and the remains of
the driver), I assisted, but the battle was practically over before it began. The Eldar Wave-Serpent and the
Dire Avenger passengers disintegrated the Necrontyr host. The Farseer smashed many aside, and the
other Eldar drown the rest in a torrent of shuriken fire.

Once inside the tomb itself, the Eldar left us. Their plan did not, for whatever reason, involve me past this
point. No matter; we had two enormous functioning explosives. If the Eldar were disintegrated in our
blasts, I would not have wept.

The tomb itself was a maze of massive corridors, vaults, and halls. It was immaculately maintained, and I
began to formulate a hypothesis as to the nature of the Processional‟s former star. Perhaps, I reasoned,
these three worlds had been placed in a long stasis. Rather than decayed remnants, we were now facing a
tomb-world at full operational capacity. No, I am in error. We were facing three.

We chose our path by random chance. If the Farseer was truly guiding us from afar, our tossed charms
would surely point in the correct direction. Indeed, it seemed as if this were so. We recovered some small
items of loot; “dead” scarabs crushed by some immense weight, or a few minor artefacts of no known
purpose. The Magos, as was his lot, recorded every detail.

91
Occasionally, we entered into running battles with Necrontyr reinforcements or rearguards. Magos
Robertson kept our vehicles running smoothly, though we lost two of my armsmen and four of the
Guardsmen to all manner of nefarious attacks. We were assaulted by half-visible wraiths that killed
through armour and cover, surprised by burrowing scarabs and monstrous, flensing Necrontyr warriors,
and generally battered by the mechanical denizens of this low circle of industrial hell. We gave no quarter
and did not retreat, even for a single step.

At several junctures, we encountered glowing green portals set into alcoves and arches. Some,
investigated by servo-skull, lead to other rooms, Necron armoured vehicles, and other, stranger places.
We pressed on, ignoring them, until our only path forward was blocked by a lone portal.

My command of Necrontyr circuit-cuneiform is quite haphazard, but, considering the circumstances, it


was a wonder I could translate one glyph in a hundred. I recognized the word for “tomb” easily, and with
relationships and hierarchy expressed in simple terms, I could make a few educated guesses.

The portal was engraved with the same sigils from the surface entrance. We were in the “Tomb of X”,
where “X” was... something. The entire system was labelled with the same rune on the star charts of Eta
Beta Omicron, a rune the Eldar hesitantly identified as approximating “Ancient and Malevolent Deity,
Worshipped and Feared in Equal Parts Who Shall Stand for All Time and Whose Reign Shall Know No
End”.

The Eldar are very poor translators in many ways.

In any case, this portal apparently also lead to his “tomb”. The Chimeras would not fit through, so we
entered with a few infantrymen. The Magos carried one of the explosive charged on his back. The three-
quarter-ton weight hardly bothered him. The other Guard would remain behind. If we did not return
within the hour, they were to flee, prep and plant the explosive, and then flee out some portal or other
route.

Went in with eight of the Guardsmen. By the time we reached the next room, we had lost all but one to
Necrontyr slaugher-warriors. My two armsmen, despite minor injuries, were fine.

The first chamber, after a long run through a columned road of sand in a titanic cavernous chamber, was,
unoriginally, a tomb. Empty sarcophagi in pyramids, inscrutable writings, and jars of strange flowing
metal. The Magos hypothesized that this was a sort of command-tomb for the leaders of the Necrontyr,
now awake and active. The jars were, perhaps, preserved organs, or the memories of organs, or even
treasure. We looted a few on principle.

After a few minutes of walking, we reached yet another titanic chamber. A smooth-sided black pyramid
two kilometres high loomed over us, surrounded by smaller pyramids and other esoteric structures. The
only way up the pyramids was a series of steps. The climb was long and quite tiring, but I felt sure that
the flat top of the pyramid would hold some manner of treasure, or something vital that we could explode.
How right I was.

After nearly half an hour of climbing, we reached the summit of the massive pyramid. We were expecting
resistance, and our expectations were well met. Four heavy warriors waited for us, minions of some sort
of Necrontyr leader. He stood taller, and with more animation and decoration than the other units we
encountered. He was flanked by two monsters.

The Necontyr are soulless, but it is a natural lack of soul. These creatures, made of strange materials and
near-biological components, emanated evil and malice. They carried axes identical to the one the
Necrontyr Lord was aiming at us.

92
I took him apart. The Magos and my bodyguards slaughtered the other units, the Magos cutting down the
charging Soulless Ones. Grenade launchers firing, Death-Arc blasting, and storm-bolter chattering like
ten thousand hammers, we cut them all down.

The Necrontyr Lord got back up. He and I engaged in single combat for a time, until it became clear that
his skill with the curious (and extremely sharp) axe could not match my skill with a power-sword.
Cowardly, he fled, teleporting across the top of the pyramid. I picked up a war-axe from one of the fallen
minions. Though it was without power, I stowed it for later use. After all, it was very, very sharp.

It was only then that I took in the full extent of the plateau we found ourselves fighting for. The edges
were bordered by columns, decorated with endless streams of circuit-cuneiform. The centre was a pool of
shifting liquid metal, nearly a hundred metres across.

As I engaged the Necrontry Lord in a long-distance firefight across the pool, the Magos prepared the
bomb for detonation. We ordered our armsmen to flee. They ran, rolled, and slid down the stairs. All three
managed to escape, by sheer luck and plenty of running.

I managed to finally bring the Necrontyr commander low with a powerful blast of death-arc fire. The
metal lake had grown increasingly agitated as we fought, and some half-formed shape was rising. With
the Magos‟ arcane rites but half-complete, I knew what needed to be done.
What was forming, I was sure, was the rumoured star-god, or at least a manifestation of the same. The
Magos was setting up his bomb on a sort of plinth... or sacrificial altar. He needed time, and I would buy
it for him. I borrowed a flask of machine oil and the grapplehawk and sprinted for a different side of the
pyramid.

The star-god formed, slowly. It was humanoid, wrapped in robes and ribbons, with a spined and leering
face. It carried a strange, entwined staff, and gave no response until I shot it in the head with my bolt-
pistol. I kept firing, drawing its attention away from the Magos and the explosive. It turned, and moved
towards me, silent as the tomb. Being near it was like slowly dying, and the blasts of lightning it fired
were a way of dying very fast. I was quickly running out pillars to hide behind and bolt-shells to fire.

I then enacted my cunning plan. I broke the flask of machine oil over by backside (great sacrilege, as I am
well aware) grabbed the grappelhawk, and threw myself off the edge of the pyramid. The star-god,
baffled, turned back to the Magos, who had just finished his work. With a blast of storm-bolter fire, the
Magos likewise leapt of the pyramid. Without machine-oil, he descended like a fire comet, sending sparks
in all directions.

I, of course, could not see any of this, being perpendicular to the Magos‟ path of descent. I could see,
however briefly, the star-god gliding down the stairs after him. I knew that, unsupported, the Magos
would soon be standing next to the Omnissiah, armour plating or no. Luckily, I had reloaded.

Using my bolt-pistol to steer my descent (and, for a final boost, two frag-grenades, my powerfield
protecting me from the brunt of the damage), I careened around the corner of the pyramid. The Magos
had suffered greatly, speared directly through the head by the star-god‟s extendable lance. Luckily, his
brain was stored elsewhere (I‟m not sure where; possibly back on the ship or in one of his ubiquitous
servo-skulls), and he was not instantly killed.

Despite our considerable speed (nearly 130km/h at the maximum), the star-god kept pace. I evaded blasts
of lighting and spear-strikes. Each hit tore chunks out of the black stone of the pyramid. Despite the
danger and extraordinary velocity, I grabbed a few chunks and stored them for later examination.

93
As we neared the base of the pyramid, I latched myself the grappelhawk and kicked upwards. Its grav-
motors straining, we pulled horizontal, and fired out through the tomb-complex. The Magos, equipped
with a superior form of graviatic levitation, sped on ahead. The star-god halted at the base of the pyramid,
turning its attention back to the softly beeping device at the top of the pyramid.

We aimed for a random glowing portal, just as the device detonated. My pants leaving a cloud of smoke,
we fired through and emerged onto a battlefield through a Necrontyr war-machine. The effects of the
explosion tore it to pieces, and we only evaded by virtue of speed. We landed a few minutes later on the
lighter pad of a Leviathan command vehicle, to the utter and total astonishment of... well, everyone.

The battle was not going well. We‟d already suffered over thirty percent casualties, and the Tomb
Brothers had lost four Marines and a Dreadnaught in an hour. The Eldar had accomplished their mission,
whatever it was, and even as the tomb-complex imploded from the force of our bombs they fled
skywards. Before exiting the atmosphere (and quitting the system shortly thereafter), they transmitted a
warning. The Necrontyr, bereft of leadership, were reactivating the stasis-field. Unless we wanted to skip
the next ten thousand millennia, we were to quit the area within the hour.
With over ten million Guard deployed, this would not be an easy task. With the full Necrontyr force
engaged, retreat would be impossible without massive losses. Almost instantly, I formulated a plan. I
ordered (and none dared refuse), every non-Guard transport to fake a landing on the other side of the
planet. The Necrons, redeploying to face an imaginary foe, left the Guard nearly free to retreat to their
immense vessels. Simultaneously, I had two firestorm-class frigates drop into extremely low orbit over
the main battle-line. With their void-shields carefully adjusted, they provided cover for the troops with
macrocannon barrages and lance strikes.

We extracted approximately eighty-four percent of the survivors. Of the 40 regiments we landed on the
surface of that unnamed world, the equivalent of 22 returned to orbit.

The orbital battle had also been fierce. The Axiom, that venerable battleship, had gone down with all
hands. Even in death, however, she still served, ramming a Necrontyr formation of capital ships and
destroying two before her plasma drive caught.

We lost the Adjudicator to sustained boarding actions, and she broke up in high orbit over a different
tomb-world. The Ascendancy managed to evacuate most of her crew before a capital-class vessel utterly
disintegrated her at close range. Her formations of bombers performed raids to cover our retreat, and were
all but extinguished. The Cannonade of Destruction, using her nova cannon to bombard the planets as we
retreated, was caught in a sudden flanking attack and destroyed. Light Cruiser Formation Beth, launching
bombers to cover our sudden retreat, was all but wiped out. The escorts accompanying that formation
shared the same fate. No-one bothered determining which Rogue Traders or pirates survived, as they flew
madly off in all directions.

We retreated out of system, firing over our shoulders. Any ship with a nova cannon flew backwards,
counting on that weapon‟s titanic recoil to propel them in the place of plasma drives. I hope their shots
damaged those tomb-worlds terribly. Some small fleets of Necrontyr vessels fled their dying worlds,
accelerating past our guns and vanishing into the Expanse.

As the Eldar predicted, the stasis-field reengaged. I think a Rogue Trader vessel or two was trapped, but
the majority of the fleet escaped. As the field engaged the warp returned, and we were able to escape that
damned system.

The Magos, has retreated to his chambers, and has locked himself in. I do not know what manner of ill-
conceived plan he is concocting, but I have posted guards with lascannons at all the doors. We make for
Ultionis, to rest and repair. The Necrontyr threat is, aside from those few escaped ships, ended. The Eldar
tell of a galaxy-spanning empire, long-sleeping, that is now awakening to find an infestation of the living.
Time will tell if we can drive them back to their tombs

94
The Further Exploits
of
Laertes Geneso Olivares
(summarized)
And so it was, in the Year of the Emperor 856.M.41, that Rogue Trader Laertes Geneso Olivares
returned from his battle with the forces of the Dread Xenos. With him he brought some treasures
and artefacts, which would prove most useful in the coming years. The true treasure, however,
was carried in the mind engrams of the late Magos Plan B. Robertson.

The Dread Magos found himself infected with some manner of blasphemous living metal, a final
curse of the Necrontyr. Rather than risk eternal damnation or corruption, he chose to destroy
himself, utilizing the entire output of His Invincible Will‟s reactor core. His recordings of the
Necrontyr, their tactics, and their armies would prove invaluable. For this great service to the
Imperium, he was declared Magos Primaris, assured a place in the workings of the Omnissiah.
His name was engraved on the solid electrum Roll of Honour on Mars itself, and, as a true sign
of their respect, the Fabricator-General declared that a newly discovered type of screw socket
would be named in his honour.

Some say, however, that the Dread Magos lives yet. Indeed, Lord Captain Olivares maintains
that His Invincible Will has somehow become the repository for the Magos‟ soul and mind. He
has been known to converse (one-sidedly, of course), with a servo-skull, or curse the Magos
when a macrocannon volley goes awry. Such transference of mind and body is highly proscribed,
but the Lord Captain Olivares has forbidden (upon pain of inhumation) any examination of the
cogitator cores. The Mechanicum has, to date, not pressed the issue.

After securing Ultionis and the surrounding systems, Lord Captain Olivares made a pilgrimage
to Holy Terra aboard his cruiser, leaving command of his holdings to Orbest Dray. He returned
five years to the day later, with renewed faith and unflinching convictions in the face of the truly
horrific. When the Koronus Sector was officially created in 901.M41, it was Lord Captain
Olivares who was named Lord Sector. He passed his authority onto a regent, another member of
his family, so that he might more perfectly serve the Emperor‟s will from the bridge of his
beloved cruiser.

During the Winterscale Wars, the Lord Captain gained a reputation for truly merciless combat.
Rumours of a giant beast swallowing his enemies gave him an aura of fear, which he well
exploited. When the conflict ended (with the marriage of Genevieve Winterscale to Lord Captain
Olivares in 867.M41) , the Lord Captain was the undisputed authority in the Expanse. Calligos
Winterscale, now quite aged, was named Subsector Governor of Winterscale‟s realm, a duty
which he took to well.

95
When the Lord Captain vanished for a full fifty years (902-952.M41), he was declared, with
great sadness, to be lost and deceased. Every member of the great Astartes chapter, the Tomb
Brothers, as well as representatives from a thousand different worlds, attended the great funeral,
held on the burgeoning world of Ultionis. The ceremony was interrupted by the Lord Captain‟s
surprising return. He declined to explain his absence, blaming it on a trick of the warp. However,
careful observers noticed new scars and wounds on his form.

To the surprise and delight of the Sector, Lord Captain Olivares was named an Imperial Saint in
961.M41. Notice of his death (and the miracles associated with his life) had been sent to Terra
and never recalled. His beatification was apparently expedited by [EXPUNGED]. The Lord
Captain once confided that he had won “a favour” in a game of Mah-Jong with [EXPUNGED],
but such speculation is bordering heresy.

Saint Olivares has gained a reputation as the patron saint of unsuvivable endeavours. Many a
Guardsman sent on a one-way mission prays to the Saint for intervention, luck, or a true miracle.
The Lord Captain‟s propensity for occasionally arriving and saving the day has only cemented
his legend. Declining to settle into a bureaucratic retirement which is surely his due, the Lord
Captain still roams the Sector, wreaking havoc on the enemies of man, saving the innocent, and
making money hand over fist.

96
Supplemental Material

Being a collection of
Yet More Words
expanding upon
Prior Statements and Stories

97
“That drop of blood that’s calm
proclaims me bastard...
To Hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil!
Conscience and grace to the profoundest pit!
I dare damnation. To this point I stand,
that both the worlds I give to negligence,
let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged.”

Hamlet
Act 4, Scene v

98
History, Customs, Tragedies, and Changes
to that great and most venerable vessel
His Invincible Will
His Invincible Will is an old ship: the fragmentary records go back over four thousand years. She has seen
centuries of warfare, of idleness, of adventure and trade, and been refitted no less than seventeen times.
Her acquisition by House Olivares in late M40 cemented their rise to power, for few pirates and scum
could face the well-tempered guns of a cruiser.

It became the tradition of House Olivares to offer positions as gunnery officers to young (and essentially
useless) scions of the House, the better to gain experience with warfare and the terrors unknown. Space
being somewhat uncomfortable and dangerous, few chose to follow this route. One who did, however,
changed the course of history.

Laertes was a mid-level officer serving aboard the Great House‟s flagship, and content with his lot.
Though he had never desired to leave the Hive of his youth, his life among the stars was a good one, and
he performed his duties with pride.

Until, that is, one ill-fated mission brought him into the spotlight. Rogue Trader Stephano Olivares,
Laertes‟ distant relative, was commissioned to found a colony on Illumis Beta Four, and, unescorted, took
His Invincible Will to warp.

Disaster struck midway through the long transit. Crew members began falling ill and dying, more than
was usual for a voyage of this length. Soon, half the ship‟s crew was dead and no cause could be found.
The machinations of the Ruinous Powers were suspected, but the few psykers still alive reported no
unusual warp activity. Death struck seemingly at random, killing swaths of men but leaving some
untouched.

After days of frantic investigation, the Tech Priests discovered that the ship‟s supplies had been subtly
poisoned by an unknown hand. This revelation came too late for most of the crew: less than a quarter
remained alive.

Before he too succumbed to the poison (for even the Rogue Trader‟s personal storeroom did not escape
the poisoner‟s reach), Stephano transferred his authority as Rogue Trader to his only living (and nearby)
relation, Laertes Geneso Olivares. With an iron will to survive, Laertes led his skeleton crew back to
Scintilla. It is a testament to his organizational abilities and the loyalty of his followers that there were no
incidents of cannibalism recorded in the three months it took to return.

He arrived to find the House of Olivares in ruins. Though the collapse of their hab-spire was blamed on
“machine spirit failure”, rumours abounded that the ancient trade house von Caius was to blame.

With what little fortune he could muster, Laertes resupplied, drew fresh crewmen from wherever he could
find them, and aimed his ship for the dark void and endless profit. He would avenge his house, rebuild his
fortune... or die with all guns firing.

99
Locations and Engines of Note
94 crew dining halls, 18 officer dining halls, 12 clergy dining halls, 12 senior officer dining halls

4 Salvation-class Aetheric Locomotive Engines, 10 Scourge-class Promethium Locomotive Engines.


(Macrocannon Batteries)

51 Argus-class lighters, 20 Heavy cargo-lifters, 3 Zero-G Sleds, 4 Aquila landers (Rogue Trader use
only), 9 Lightning Fighters.

50 Sentinel Powerlifters (distributed between the main cargo hold and various other locations)

The Mendicant Order of St. Sebastian:


A group of roving men and women who travel the length and breadth of the ship. While by their order‟s
tenets, they cannot own or sell any material goods, and so earn food and shelter by offering basic medical
services, transcription, translation, and prayer. Though some Olivares have tried to eliminate them, most
embrace their presence. The Order is well-liked by the crew, but treated somewhat patronizingly by the
Ecclesiarchy contingent. It is rumoured that several minor warp-creatures have been banished from the
ship by the timely intervention of the Priests though, of course, no firm evidence exists.

The Rail Guilds:


Two rail guilds operate aboard His Invincible Will, leading to much confusion and rivalry. Guild Sineas
operates the ship-length rapid transport lines, while Guild Harkhorn operates the shorter ammunition
carriages that serve the macrocannons and turrets. Their rivalry is intense, and has occasionally come to
outright war. However, neither Guild would dare cease rail operations for any reason. When rail service
to the port battery was interrupted for three minutes in late M39, Rogue Trader Jacob Olivares had every
member of both guilds castrated, and the leaders thrown from the nearest airlock. To this day, all
members of the two guilds wear protective codpieces as a symbol of this conflict: Guild Sineas in white,
Guild Harkhorn in blue.

The Guilds endured the Great Scouring. Though many of their officers and traditions were lost or
abandoned, the uniforms and rivalry remains as fierce as ever.

The Astropathic Relay:


His Invincible Will is graced with five sanctioned Astropaths. Each operates on a five-hour rota (as the
ship operates on a 25 hour day), but some choose to serve longer if a message is particularly difficult or
lengthy. The relay itself is located at the tip of the dorsal spire, and is directly linked to a huge antenna
strung above the hull. The room is spartan, carved of the same obsidian as the Tricorn on Scintilla, and
linked by hexagrammic wards to the ship‟s warpsbane hull.

The Holds:
The flagship of the Olivares clan is a warship first and foremost, but warships must sometimes silence
their guns for commercial needs. Various spaces throughout the hull have been designated as stowage, but
there are two holds which bear special mention. Both lie along the ventral spine of the ship. Closest to the
prow is the “Flit” hold, so named for the “flitters” it contains. The great cargo-haulers and landers of the
Olivares are stowed here, along with some Argus lighters and shuttles. (note that this is not the only such
bay: several smaller bays exist, most clustered near the bridge or enginarium.)

The second hold is the main cargo space, which, though small by hauler standards, could still contain two
Warhound titans at full height, or the entire Cathedral of St. Beverly the Perpetually Cross. Most of the
time, the ship‟s cargo is stuck in odd corners, barely filling the hold at all. It can also be converted to a
living space for steerage passengers, should the need to transport thousands arise.

100
The dissolute nature of the holds has lead to considerable trouble in the past. A shipment of seedlings
bound for Tartarus Minor was mislaid once, only to be rediscovered centuries later as a forest growing
under fluorescent lamps. The location of Gideon‟s Forest, (Gideon being the ill-fated scribe who
discovered the forest and was subsequently burned for heresy before his words were confirmed) is a
closely guarded secret. A secret passage was designed to connect it to the Rogue Trader‟s private suite,
and all other entrances blocked and sealed.

In another, less benign, case, Rogue Trader Valeria Olivares once lost a crate containing astrological
charts of the Expanse and region. Those crewmen subscripted to serve Catalogue and Cartography have
tales of riches and treasures hidden in disused vaults or mislabelled rooms. Most of the “treasures”
uncovered during the last few centuries, however, have been the unfortunate remains of previous C&C
expeditions.

After the Great Scouring and the subsequent reclamation of vast portions of the ship, many holds and
secrets were uncovered. Dens of mutants and less pleasant creatures were burnt or evacuated to the void,
and the light of the Emperor returned to those corners of the ship. Thorough as the Mechanicus
shipwrights are, they are not infallible, and a few holds escaped complete examination.

Catalogue and Cartography:


One of the most desired and most dangerous jobs aboard His Invincible Will is the task of map-making,
conduit-mapping, and space designation. It is desired because the pay is high, the uniform is spiffy, and
the camaraderie and stories are spoken of widely. On the other hand, the fatality rate is 25% within the
first four months. A ship this old is a dangerous place, and few crewmen who venture deep into the bilge-
tanks or deep crawlspaces return. Those who do, though, sometimes bring back riches. Lucky Straade, a
junior C&C man serving under the notoriously eccentric Brandon Callywaff Olivares, found a precious
digital weapon that the Rogue Trader had accidentally dropped down a drain. The search cost him his left
eye, arm, and all his toes, but he was rewarded with fine bionic replacements and a pension to rival most
officers. Unfortunately, he didn‟t live long enough to collect his fortune, as he was crushed by an errant
cargo-servitor but two days later.

The Temple of the God-Emperor Triumphant:


Located at the base of the dorsal spire, the Temple is in fact older than the ship‟s hull. Fragmentary
records from the ship‟s founding indicate that the temple was transplanted from an unnamed ancient
world, and set among the stars for all time. The Temple itself is not large, and can barely seat one
thousand. Yet its beautiful stained-glass windows, depicting scenes of the Emperor casting down heretics
and foul daemons, are an inspiration to the few allowed to view their sacred panes.

The Archbishop Pronitnit Flanivan the Seventh has carefully tended his “flock” for the last two-hundred
and twelve years, and, though infirm in limb, still boasts a flair for bombastic speeches and thundering
declamations. Before every major battle, it is his habit to make a short speech to inspire the men, and he
occasionally has some lower priests start up the auto-orchestra and pipe stirring music through the vox
lines. He has spent most of the last few years in esoteric contemplation of the Litanies of Faith, and rarely
leads services anymore. It has been over fifty years since last he set foot outside his Temple.

There are dozens of smaller shrines scattered throughout the ship, each tending to the local needs of the
crew. The Bishops occasionally travel to these shrines, but prefer not to, as it requires them to mingle
with the common masses to an unpleasant degree.

The Wild Lightning:


The nine lightning strike fighters attached to His Invincible Will were a gift from the Imperial Navy to
Rogue Trader Vin Sin the Persistent, for his action in an undisclosed conflict. The Navy failed to provide
any crew, however, and the Lightning has since been flown by a ragtag assortment of disgraced pilots,
adrenaline junkies, madmen, and idiots. The Lightnings are rarely used in ship-to-ship combat; they are
usually reserved for escort or ground-attack duties.

101
The pilots live in somewhat isolated quarters attached directly to their launch bay at the stern of the ship.
Their habits are inscrutable and baffling to outsiders, and sometimes baffle even the pilots. The
Lightnings are painted a pure shade of white, and no markings or decoration are allowed. When the craft
were first introduced, pilots attempted to outdo each other in elaborate and colourful displays. The
practice was put to an end after Cardinal Ptolemy had an aneurysm after being buzzed by a bright pink
aircraft covered in pictures of naked women. It took considerable bargaining to prevent the air crew from
being burnt as cultists of Slaanesh.

The Armoury:
There is no central armoury aboard the ship, but a series of Arbites fortresses or guarded storerooms. All
armouries are managed by the Guild-Compact of Armourers, a joint effort between the Administratum
and crew. Their filing and catalogue system is, however, incredibly complex, and all cases and weapons
are labelled in arcane code. To make matters worse, all labels are hand printed, meaning that the contents
of some weapons crates remain unknown even to this day. When every last armoury scribe perished in the
Great Scouring, they took their filing system with them. A new and even more complicated method was
introduced by their replacements, leading to yet more confusion.

Portsiders and Starsiders:


The ongoing feud between the crewmen of the starboard side of His Invincible Will and the port crewmen
began in late M.38, when, records indicate, Rogue Trader Arcurus Olivares offered two gold pieces to
every member of whichever side scored the most hits in a coming battle. In the aftermath of the conflict,
when the hits were being tallied, strenuous argument broke out between the chroniclers and spread to the
rest of the crew.

The Portsiders argued that it was their lance strike which broke the back of the enemy‟s flagship, and
therefore that hit should count double. The Starsiders disagreed, as their macrocannon broadside had
struck two escorts simultaneously and only counted as one hit. The debate raged for days, resulting in
more casualties than the original battle itself. When the Rogue Trader was finally informed, he declared
that, unless the two sides could come to some sort of agreement, the coins would remain undistributed.

Also, if they continued fighting, he would have every last crewman executed.

While this did bring about a truce between the two sides, the underlying issue was never resolved. Both
communities developed into somewhat insular factions, each uncooperative or even hostile to each other.
The only communication is in the form of officially sanctioned ship‟s Damage Registry, which lists hits
and damage according battery, lance, or cannon. Of course, this only adds fuel to the rivalry.

Each side has developed its own code of Law Vulgaris, keeps different mealtimes, has different traditions,
worships different minor saints, and absolutely refuses to associate with “the other side”. Of course, the
feud only extends to the actual gun crew: officers are largely aloof (but can play up the rivalry for
amusement or to curry favour), C&C men are welcomed anywhere, and Tech-Priests are Tech-Priests.
The Sunsear turrets along the dorsal and ventral span, are, in contrast, a unified and cohesive team. While
each turret may have individual traditions and customs, there are no recorded cases of outright conflict.
On the other hand, the turret crews despise the “smug” prow battery, while the prow crewmen loathe the
“decadent” turrets, and both are avoided by the port and starboard crewmen.

Ratings who work the lances and lasers can be identified by a smell of ozone, a deep tan or burn, and a
near-permanent electrical charge. They often wear insulated clothing and headgear, with bulging rubber
gloves and boots. Not many have agumentics: those that do rapidly find themselves the victim of jealous
machine-lightning.

102
Those who operate the massive macrocannons often smell of gunpowder, sulphur, and tar. Missing limbs
and fingers are more common, for few crewmen reach their thirtieth year undamaged by the swing of
great winches or the crush of the loading belts. Standard uniform incorporates a heavy apron, boots, and
gloves, with the rest of the clothing being as light as possible to reduce heat exhaustion.

Verdigris and Yeast:


In a secret and well concealed hold of the ship, the off-duty C&C men brew strange ales and liquors. A
product of bootleggers being pressganged, moonshiners allowed to roam freely, and the general appetites
of spacefaring men and women everywhere, the alcoholic beverages produced by the Janx and Sons
Secret Distillery are the worst kept secret on the ship. For turning a blind eye and keeping the Mechanicus
at bay, the captain receives a cut of the profits. In addition, the brewmasters rake in a small fortune every
time the ship docks at port.

To prevent the crew devolving into drunkards and layabouts, the supply is kept tightly regulated and
priced out of the immediate grasp of most of the ratings. Grog, distributed on special occasions and feast
days, is brewed by Janx and Sons as a pro bono service, providing the Rogue Trader continues to supply
them with the ingredients.

The brewery itself consist of a small town‟s worth of piping, copper tubs, and esoteric distillation
apparatus, all of which is probably heretical, not to mention unsanitary. The products vary from a foul
rotgut known as Tiger Eye, distilled from corpse starch and surplus coolant, to a passable amnesac. Of
course, as the distillery has been aboard for more than two millennia, some of its liquors are unique and
possibly dangerous. It was, after all, the famous brewmaster Dan Janx III who, in M.39, discovered that
one can make tolerable liquor from Orks if you boil them long enough.

The Notorious Janx Family:


As long as there has been an Olivares in command of His Invincible Will, there has been a Janx tending to
the... earthly needs of his crew. The distillery is just the most visible arm of their operations. They operate
clandestine dance halls, greasy saloons, and even a bawdy house or two. Of course, the crew has no idea
that the captain both knows of the Janx holdings, but also receives a share of the profits.

This surreptitious and serendipitous collusion came about as a direct result of the Riots of 207.M39.
While on a six month cruise, the lower officers and crew began to speak of rebellion and lack of
diversion. Janx came to the Bilingsworth Fraptitious Olivares and offered a novel solution: for a
monopoly on matters illicit on the ship, he would both pay the captain and keep unsupervised competition
away.

While the current Janx line may operate illegal amusements, they are extremely careful to keep the ship
free of narcotics (lho-sticks are forbidden, due to the increased expense of upkeep to the life-sustainer),
smuggling, and anything that might upset their monopoly or compromise their unique position. Despite
this, they are treated almost as nobility by the crew, and welcomed by portsider and turretman alike.

At the monthly meeting of the ship‟s council, a representative of the Janx is always present. As all but the
Rogue Trader are blindfolded, according to ancient tradition, the respective anonymity of the participants
is preserved. And, as the participants are given voice-scramblers if they wish, and forbidden from using
any name but Councillor, many opinions are voiced that would normally be silenced.

Ship’s Cant:
Most of the ratings and low crewmen speak only one language; a corrupted form of Low Gothic known as
Shipwise. Unique to the ship, the language incorporates the rough grammatical structure of Low Gothic,
but adds an enormous variety of terms, signifiers, and invectives.

The learned archivist Sherridan Muyer spent over a year studying the dialect, and left just as baffled as
when he arrived. In his report, he indicated that, “rather than punctuation, Shipwise uses curses and oaths,

103
has no discernable or codified lexicon, and is, in all cases, a perversion of the Emperor‟s proper manner
of speaking.”

Shipwise is a worker‟s tongue, and, as such, is focused primarily on work and war. A single word of
phrase could take a full minute to explain, but would be instantly understood by both parties. In addition,
Shipwise incorporates a sort of pictogrammic rune-script (adapted from the hazard runes warding the
ship‟s more dangerous areas), as well as a slew of whistled signals.

As the ship‟s official business (including all sermons) is conducted in Low Gothic, most crewmen speak
and understand at least a smattering of the proper language, but prefer to converse whenever possible in
their native tongue.

It is also rumoured that there is a second, hidden language spoken aboard the ship. Used only by the
secretive Guild of Noses, and possibly by others who wish to remain undiscovered, it is a silent language
of symbol, colour, and pose. No officer would admit to understanding it.

The Guild of Noses:


Though most major crimes such as murder, theft of ship‟s property, and mutinous thought fall under the
jurisdiction of the ship‟s Arbites (and the stringent words of Imperial Law), some crimes are left to, “be
policed by the Crew as best they see fit, to better the preservation of Order aboard ship.”, as the ship‟s
charter states.

Most of this Law Vulgaris is administered in an ad-hoc fashion, essentially by mob justice and suspicion.
Each “case” is examined by no less than three members of the secretive Guild of Noses before judgement
is pronounced by that selfsame body.

The Guild is an anonymous organization as old as the ship, made up of aged crewmen, learned
stowaways, and the occasional rogue Arbites. Though they do not actively seek crimes, preferring
allegations and evidence to be brought to them, they do perform investigations of their own.

Every member wears at all times a long black formal robe, a powdered white wig, and a strange, beak-
like mask, from whence the Guild‟s name derives. The nose of the mask is usually filled with incense, the
better to blot out the fumes of the lower decks. Each mask is identical and almost featureless, though it
does feature prominent bristly eyebrows.

The trial procedure is one of great antiquity and ceremony. Court of Noses usually takes place in a
deserted hold or dining-hall. Any and all are permitted to attend, provided they are blindfolded and
weaponless. The accuser faces the accused directly, or, if a group is accused, one is determined by lot to
stand for the whole.

At the centre of a rough circle of standing listeners, the accused stands bound hand and foot. The accused
is free to move his arms, but is suspended upside-down from the roof by his ankles. Neither may speak
unless prompted by the Guild. For minor crimes, three Guildsmen are usually sufficient, while more
complex or rabble-rousing crimes may warrant up to twenty.

The Guild asks the questions in Shipwise, but communicates amongst itself by the Hidden Tongue.
Witnesses are brought forward and questioned as needed. Length of trial differs by crime or inclination,
but recess is declared every time the accuser faints. The court‟s decision is made and punishment carried
out in one step.

While most crimes cannot be punished by execution (as that is the provision of the Arbites), flogging,
limb-loss, and branding are common. An interesting judicial quirk means that, if the accused is found to
have been wronged and accused with malice by the accuser, the penalty is reversed. However, no matter
the verdict, both the accuser and accused are lightly flogged.

104
Laud Hailer:
Motto: The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret

The major source of news and gossip aboard His Invincible Will is a storied publication known to the
crew as the Hailer. In mid M.39, Rogue Trader Archibald Olivares II “acquired” a fabled printing-engine
during an ill-scouted raid on Vaxanide shipping. Rather than scrap the device, the Rogue Trader was
persuaded to sell it to a consortium of wealthy scribes.

In the intervening millennia, the scribes turned the press into a vital part of shipboard life. They weekly
publish The Laud Hailer, a flimsy collection of propaganda, harmless rumour, lists of crimes, and
historical remembrance. As the publication is read by nearly every crewman, its contents are checked by
the Mechanicus (who dislike the fact that they don‟t have direct control of the press), the Ministorum
(who carefully check for deviancy), the Administratum (who firmly believe that machine-printed copies
are an abomination), and the Rogue Trader‟s staff (who enjoy setting all three factions against each
other).
The scribes, caught in the web of shipboard politics, often get little input into what they actually print.
They do, however, get all the profits, most of which goes to buying more ink, paper, and delivery-
servitors. In order to maximize profits and minimize waste, the scribes recycle almost all of the
periodicals, preserving a few for the records. The paper they are printed on is very tough, but the ink is
not and is washed off and collected before the sheets are reloaded into the press. Some broadsheets have
outlasted four generations of readers.

Weekly serial novels are published in the Hailer as well, often fictionalized accounts of the lives of Saints
or former Rogue Traders. These range from exaggerated tales of heroism to thoughtful commentary, and
many have been in publication for as long as the ship‟s paper. There is also a “Comedy” page,
(complimenting the “Tragedy” page which lists notable deaths), in which a variety of semi-coherent
pictorials vie for the public attention. The civilly mandated adventures of Ragin‟ Johnny Fuklaw are given
great prominence.

Periodicals are not bought, but rented. Even copies on pict-slates are designed to disappear one standard
month from publications. Crewmen are forbidden by ship law from defacing, marring, or concealing any
previous copies of the Hailer, and most return their copies and pay for new one each week. Failure can
result in fines, loss of hands, or loss of life in the most severe hoarding cases.

Rusted and antiquated delivery-servitors are sent out each week to sell the most recent copies. They
consist of three slaved torsos and heads connected at the waists to a multi-limbed locomotor unit. The
leftmost body is armed (to prevent theft), and constantly scans for thieves. The centre unit sings hymns of
praise interspersed with advertisements and price lists as it carries the scrolls and data-slates. The
rightmost body tabulates records of sales, locations, times, and crewmen ident-cards (absolutely required
for any purchase), and picks up old copies before returning to the central distributory.

The routes and timing of the delivery-servitors was planned in ancient times, but the ship has changed and
some routes have become inefficient. Copies up to three years old are available for sale at some locations,
while in others rogue servitors shoot anyone found carrying parchment.

Shipboard Economy:
Wages aboard His Invincible Will are, by Imperial standards, quite good. Most voidsmen earn more than
twice what they‟d make planetside, which is an incentive to not jump ship the first time it stops in port.
On the other hand, very little of the money remains with the crew for long.

Meals and board, are of course, free, if you like sleeping in a hammock in a closet and eating corpse-
starch. To get better food or quarters, one has to pay. Semi-illicit pleasures and any form of entertainment
cost more Thrones. The Ecclesiarchy takes its tithe and the Administratum taxes heavily. Voidsmen have
to buy the tools of their trade, and luxury goods such as shoes, eyeglasses, and medicine are not cheap.

105
The taxes are not terribly harsh, and families are given a substantial break (which is more than cancelled
out by the increased expenses). Essentially, most of the wealth therefore returns to the ship‟s coffers, even
if it is by a circuitous route. A ship is a closed system, and only an elite few ever see true profit.

The Fratery of Armsmen:


The Fratery is not, as the name might suggest, a single-gender organization. Armsmen are drawn from all
walks of life and all parts of the Imperium, forming a body distinct from the regular crew. They are listed
as “Arbites” aboard the ship‟s registry, though they are distinctly not. This is matter of some small
contention with the ship‟s actual Arbites contingent, who are outnumbered ten to one by the Fratery. It is,
however, convenient for tithe purposes: keeping “men under arms for ship defence” is a taxable luxury,
while a captain may have any number of Arbites aboard a ship without increasing his tithe-assessment.

Though the Olivares clan could in the past afford to pay the tithe, it was considered a clandestine tradition
not to. Protected from close scrutiny by the Warrant of Trade, by whose terms all tax records must be sent
directly to Terra without interference, this minor deviancy is unlikely to ever be discovered. In addition,
the original reclassification was a mistake by a scribe during the ship‟s reclamation from the space hulk
2894-V, and has remained an unremarked fact in the tetramillennial history of the ship.

The Armsmen have traditions and mannerisms all their own. They are divided into two sects: the
Rockeaters and the Burning Men. The names are rooted in ancient history and legend, but none aboard
can recall their significance. The Rockeaters are in the majority, making up the general troops of the ship.
They are forbidden by ancient degree from entering the bridge or leaving the ship, and perform all
boarding actions or repulses. Some are set in permanent watch over the lost holds of the ship, a dangerous
and oft-fatal duty.

The Burning Men are tasked with accompanying the Rogue Trader planetside and aboard space stations
and orbitals. They also guard the bridge, and the changes of watch are a display of pageantry and
ceremony to rival the oldest Guild House. When moving about the ship at large, ancient tradition states
that all Burning Men must be accompanied by a bugle-bearer, who sounds a note at every alternate
junction or passageway.

In a strange twist, armsmen often switch between the two sects during their careers. Most start out
guarding or patrolling as Rockeaters, graduate to accompany the Rogue Trader or his entourage, and then
retire oncemore to the holds and deck-spaces of the ship. Mercenaries and other militants are encouraged
to follow the customs of their designated sect, though they are by no means enforced. In the private
library of the Rogue Trader‟s quarters, there is a picture of a barbaric Kroot wearing the traditional sword,
cape, and boots of the Burning Men, along with unorthodox scalps and finger-bone trophies. Most
armsmen consider the pageantry and symbolism to be a welcome distraction from the horrors and dangers
they must face. In battle, the bright colors are replaced with camouflage and gunmetal gray, and all
pretence of foolishness drops. Under the garish and strange fashions, each armsman is a hardened and
tested veteran, ready to fight and die at a moment‟s notice.

After the Scouring, sects essentially dissolved. Their reorganization after that great calamity is detailed
elsewhere.

Gunnery Protocols Aboard His Invincible Will:


The firing sequence for His Invincible Will is similar to the Imperial Navy‟s standard, and consequently
similar to most Imperial vessels.

Combat usually beings soon after an enemy ship is sighted. Initially, the ship‟s auger is set to a wide, low-
resolution sweep of surrounding space, designed to identify multiple threats as efficiently as possible.
Once a target is sighted, specialized auger arrays and antennae are aimed manually at the enemy ship, and
continually adjusted through the combat.

106
The auger arrays send volumes of information to a specialized group of savants, tech-priests, and officers,
who interpret the data and prepare a variety of tables and schematics for the bridge officers. These
officers convey the information to the captain.

On His Invincible Will, the captain‟s throne is surrounded by a holographic array, projecting views of the
entire combat, magnifications of the enemy vessels, damage reports, and a slew of esoteric information
and charts. The captain, using the heading, speed, and size of the vessel, plot the general fire pattern for
the entire ship. It is a difficult art: the vast distances and the sluggish speed of light mean that all patterns
must rely to some degree on estimation and guesswork. A good captain learns to read his opponent‟s
mood and disposition, placing lance strikes and barrages with near prenatural accuracy.

These initial patterns are then sent to the four command decks below and to the stern of the bridge. There,
officers for each and every gun examine the captain‟s orders, adapt the solution for their particular
weapon (a laborious process aided by great cogitator engines and dozens of scribes), and then transmit
their amended solutions to the bridge.

The captain reviews the firing pattern a final time, making any correction he deems necessary, and then
transmits the order to all guns by shielded lines and cables. At the macrocannons, the great guns are
carefully aligned by the turning of enormous gearwheels, and the massive shells loaded by hundreds of
sweating ratings. The lance and laser turrets are adjusted, the barrels swabbed and polished, and the great
capacitors charged with crackling energy.

Because macrocannon shells travel far slower than lance or laser weapons, the barrage must be carefully
timed. The enormous rumble of the broadside firing is often followed by a silence of twenty minutes or
more as the titanic weapons cruise through space. Careful timing means the lance and laser batteries fire
mere minutes or even seconds after the broadside impacts. The macrocannon shells usually overwhelm
the enemy‟s void shields, leaving the lances free to carve great holes in the hull and the lasers to melt and
tear metal.

By the time the damage to the enemy‟s ship is visible to the captain, he may have already prepared a
second salvo, and have the guns waiting ready. It is a source of great pride aboard His Invincible Will to
do so, for it is a sign that one‟s captain is steadfast and merciless to his enemies.

If it should come down to a boarding action (something the Olivares clan has avoided, if possible),
armsmen are posted to airlocks, choke-points, and various access points. The ship‟s many small turrets
bring their turbolasers and megabolters to bear on approaching boarding torpedoes and lighters, and
occasionally even fire upon the enemy ship itself should the range between the two ships be dangerously
close. In extraordinary circumstances, the Wild Lightning could be launched to defend the ship, but their
attacks are unlikely to do any damage.

Should the enemies of the Imperium have the audacity to fire upon His Invincible Will, specialized augers
can detect an incoming slower-than-light attack and prepare defensive countermeasures. If the ship‟s void
shields are down, turrets might be pressed into service deflecting incoming shells, though this is by no
means a perfect defence. If the bridge itself is a likely target, adamantine shutters slam over the void-glass
panes. By regulation, all officers are required to wear void-suits if the bridge is in danger, but to do so
would be an ill sign and bring bad luck down upon the ship.

107
Crew Registry
Total Shipboard Population: 95,207

Crewmen: 70,057
Vent-Marshalls: 601
Pipemen: 1,288
Recycling: 247
Gunnery Crew:
Port and Starboard Lances: 16,901 (~900/primary turret, ~100/ secondary battery)
Port and Starboard Macrocannons: 26,427 (~1000/main cannon)
Prow Laser Battery: 9,407 (~900/dorsal & ventral turret, 2200/ prow battery)
Sensorium Crew: 1,494
Engine Crew: 8,582
Generator Crew: 251
Dedicated Repair Crew: 2,844
Catalogue and Cartography: 145
Conduit and Corridor Crew: 1,750

Crew Support: 5,159


Cloth-makers, Tailors, Cobblers: 810
Custodial and Janitorial: 491
Chandlers, Lux-Officers, and Wax-collectors: 734
Butchers: 95
Cooks, Cooking Support Staff, Servers: 1,639
Armourers: 119
Armoury and Gun-Range Assistance: 56
Commissars: 29
Musicians, Banner-Bearers: 121
Miscellaneous: 1,095

Ecclesiarchy: 2,575
Lesser Clergy: 2,500
Full Priests: 71
Bishops: 3
Archbishops: 1

Arbites: 1,585
Provosts: 1466
Proctors: 119
(Armsmen: 1,200/ 104)

Administratum: 2,594
Scribes: 1,502
Illuminators: 1,061
Copyists: 27
Archivists: 4

Medicae and Hospitaliers: 318


Barber-Surgeons and Chiurgeons: 267
Full Medicae: 51

108
Cult Mechanicus: 8,223
Servitors and Menials: 6,121
Lesser Tech-Priests: 2,010
Greater Tech-Priests: 92

Mechanicus Support: 2,868


Machinists, Lathe-men, Stokers: 2004
Stevedores: 651
Locomotive Engineers: 113
Murder Servitors: 100

Aeronauticus: 1035
Pilots: 255
Support Staff: 780

Bridge Officers: 112

Bridge Support Staff: 425

Captain: 1

Psykers: 6
Navigators: 1
Astropaths: 5

Miscellaneous Personnel, Crew, and Other Unassigned Person: 249

109
Crew Registry
after the
Great Scouring

Total Shipboard Population: 8559


Casualty Rate: ~91%

Crewmen: 2103
Casualty Rate: ~97%
Vent-Marshalls: 18
Pipemen: 37
Recycling: 7
Gunnery Crew:
Port and Starboard Lances: 511
Port and Starboard Macrocannons: 800
Prow Laser Battery: 285

Sensorium Crew: 33
Engine Crew: 260
Generator Crew: 8
Dedicated Repair Crew: 86
Catalogue and Cartography: 5
Conduit and Corridor Crew: 53

Crew Support: 429


Casualty Rate: ~92%
Cloth-makers, Tailors, Cobblers: 67
Custodial and Janitorial: 40
Chandlers, Lux-Officers, and Wax-collectors: 45
Butchers: 7
Cooks, Cooking Support Staff, Servers: 136
Armourers: 9
Armoury and Gun-Range Assistance: 0
Commissars: 2
Musicians, Banner-Bearers: 10
Miscellaneous: 113

Ecclesiarchy: 700
Casualty Rate: ~72%
Lesser Clergy: 625
Full Priests: 71
Bishops: 3
Archbishops: 1

Arbites and Armsmen: 120


Casualty Rate: ~92%

110
Administratum: 141
Casualty Rate: ~95%
Scribes: 83
Illuminators: 55
Copyists: 2
Archivists: 1
Medicae and Hospitaliers: 79
Casualty Rate: ~75%
Barber-Surgeons and Chiurgeons: 67
Full Medicae: 12

Cult Mechanicus: 3,632


Casualty Rate: ~55%
Servitors and Menials: 1,503
Lesser Tech-Priests: 2,010
Greater Tech-Priests: 92

Mechanicus Support: 672


Casualty Rate: ~55%
Machinists, Lathe-men, Stokers: 501
Stevedores: 143
Locomotive Engineers: 28

Aeronauticus: 118
Casualty Rate: ~75%
Pilots: 32
Support Staff: 86

Bridge Officers: 112


Casualty Rate: 0%

Bridge Support Staff: 425


Casualty Rate: 0%

Captain: 1
Casualty Rate: 0%

Psykers: 7
Casualty Rate: 0%
Navigators: 2
Astropaths: 5

111
The Chronicles of Artur of the Upper Hull
(vol. 4, preface)

A nd in the year 821.M16, after the Scouring at the hands of the accursed and eternally damned

Hadarak Fel (as revealed in Vol. 3), as the dead lay thick on the gundecks and the Ship itself bled
atmosphere and fuel into the void, a great re-organization occurred.

The ragged survivors of Catalogue and Cartography, who numbered but five, remained with the Ship at
the Lathes. These two men and three women lead the Mechanicus through the ship, and greatly assisted in
the complete purge of every hold, hull-space, and corridor. From the prow to the stern, every metre of
space was reclaimed, and there was much rejoicing. In the fullness of time the Five became figures of
legend aboard, who scoured the taint of the Archenemy from the sacred form of the Ship.

The Fratery of Armsmen, who fought so valiantly against the Risen Dead, were all but wiped out. But
fifty of them survived. These fifty, each a veteran and a survivor of a most deadly conflict, swore to
forever defend the sacred personage of the Captain. The traditions of the Rockeaters and the Burning Men
passed into history. The charred and destroyed form of the Tapestry of Flame were placed in the chapel,
but the myths and customs died with so many of the armsmen during the Scouring.

The new order, calling themselves The Cleansed, took new arms and armour. In matt black carapace, with
a white skull helm (patterned after the blessed helm of our Captain), they became an everloyal force of
divine assault and retribution.

The thrice-blessed thrice-warded Temple of the God-Emperor was untouched by the attack, but many of
the junior priests and lay officers gave their lives in the defence of the ship, forcing back the Risen Dead
with flamer and holy scripture. The great Archbishop, blessed be his name, did not remain with the Ship,
but traveled with the Captain into the Far Expanse during the repairs.

The Mechanicus, in their wisdom, had emerged largely unscathed. None of the senior Tech-Adepts
suffered injury during the Scouring. Some elected to remain behind, assisting their brethren of the Lathes
in the Great Work. The Dread Magos Robertson, of course, accompanied the Captain into the Far
Expanse, and there destroyed many, many of the enemies of the Dynasty.

Through the beneficence of the Captain, all the Officers of the Bridge survived. While a few remained
behind during the Great Work, most dispersed, and acted as the command staff of the other ships of the
fleet, and there served quite well. Their leadership abilities would be much in demand during the trials of
that journey.

112
+++INQUISITORIAL ADDENDUM+++
Summary of the collection of Prisoner 4c756369656e: Lucien von Caius
Interrogator Skythe, attached to Inquisitor Faine, presided over the collection.

The prisoner was delivered to the Interrogator aboard the Rogue Trader vessel His Invincible Will. The
prisoner was delivered personally by Rogue Trader Laertes Geneso Olivares (see attached files). The
prisoner was delivered in fair health.

Note: the prisoner‟s skull had recently been removed in its entirety, and replaced with an alloyed
substitute. When pressed, the Rogue Trader referred the Interrogator to a Magos Robertson (see attached
files), who was uncooperative. Investigation is pending.

In the presence of the Rogue Trader and the Interrogator, the prisoner freely and with no duress admitted
to the following crimes:

Conspiracy to Commit Murder


Complicity in the poisioning of the crew of the vessel His Invincible Will with the primary objective
being the death of the late Stephano Olivares.

Blasphemous Affiliation
Well-documented desire to possess the [REDACTED], which was rightfully destroyed by the Rogue
Trader, who provided ample evidence and documentation.

Trafficking of Proscribed Xenos Artefacts


Complicity in the Lathe Incident, specifically, in the smuggling of proscribed artefacts to certain faction
of the Lathe Forge-Worlds, theft and deployment of a virus weapon, and gross crimes against the
Imperium

Various and sundry heresies and crimes.

Confirmation of these admissions is ongoing. The prisoner is expected to survive a further month of
questioning. In this time, all crimes have been admitted and confirmed.

The Warrant of the von Caius family is declared null and void, and their name shall be stricken from the
roll of the honoured and loyal. All Imperial citizens are free to deliver justice unto them.

+++INQUISITORIAL ADDENDUM CONCLUDES+++

Postscript: Inquisitor [REDACTED] Yes, that‟s all very well and good, but what of the Olivares clan?
We know Laertes was involved in the [REDACTED]. Some sort of ancient xenos mining device, right?
How‟d he know it was there? What really happened?

Well, Torq will find him out, sooner or later.

113
The Lathe System
Sing the praises of the Triumvirate of the Forge! Sing the praises of Het, Hesh, and Hadd! Jewels of
Calixis!

The Lathe system was gifted to the Adeptus Mechanicus during the Agevin crusade, and rapidly became
the central hub of the Mechanicus in the Calixis sector. The three planetoids orbit their blue-white star in
strange irregular orbits, leading to complex gravity-tides. The tides allow for strange and incredible
wonders to be forged when the alignment of the planetoids is correct.

The worker-helots of the inner Lathe systems are a squat, almost ogrynish breed. Their ministering tech-
priest are often fitted with reinforcing exoskeletons or sacred grav-reversers. But the three planetoids are
not the only points of interest in the system: hundreds of artificial orbitals, dockyards, listening posts, and
bio-domes dot the outer reaches.

Defensive turrets and mines protect the Mechanicus holdings, while a veritable fleet of warships is
usually docked. Special permits are often required to enter the system, and all vessels are subject to close
and pervasive scrutiny. Entering the Lathe system unannounced is a death-warrant.

It is rumoured that the Titan Legio Venator keeps watch over the dead moon of Lycosidae, which floats in
the darkness and is notoriously difficult to locate. The defense of the system is overseen by the
Archmagos Militant Vesper Quade, a veteran of scores of battles and fleet engagements who brooks no
insult or threat.

The true rulership of the system rests, of course, upon the iron shoulders of the Archmagos Covenant, a
group of senior tech-priests whose word is law. The current Fabricator Ascendant and leader of the
Covenant is Ixainov the Elder, now preserved in life only by the arcane mysteries of a cogitator tank. He
retains some of the fiery spirit which garnered him fame in his younger days, and is able to become quite
emotional, for one of the Cult Mechanicus. His idiosyncrasies would not be tolerated were it not for his
great fame and skill. Backroom political schemers in the Cult would like nothing more than to see him
replaced.

Myrmidons, an elite sect of military-minded tech-priests, have their base aboard the Grand Panopticon, a
hive-sized orbital bristling with archeotech weapons and defensive arrays.

At the very edge of the system lie most of the orbital docks and grand loading barges, filled with the
wealth of the Lathe forges or carrying fuel for their fires. Chartist vessels, Rogue Traders, and perhaps
even the Inquisition pass through the docks of Lathe, though the Machine Cult is difficult to mislead or
evade.

Unique Exports: Body-Blower Hyperdensity Ammunition, Lathe Unbreakable Blades.

114
The Kraken
An Essay on the Nature of the Beast
by the
Most Learned Archivist-Primus Conrad Kruul
For as long as men have sailed the void between stars, they have told tales of monstrous beasts in the
dark, rising out of nothing to swallow ships whole. I have made it my life‟s work to seek out the
monsters, to catalogue them, and bring the light of reason to what has long been the domain of myth. To
begin, I must make a distinction between the kraken munadis and the kraken terribilus. Though, by the
sacred precepts of St. Occam, I should not unnecessarily multiply entities, rest assured that such
multiplication is, in this case, both reasoned and necessary.

The kraken munadis is an entirely physical creature. In this subsector alone, I have identified seven Rogue
Traders who possess kraken-tooth knives, and, by the grace of Magos-Biologis Franklin, I have
confirmed that they are from the same creature. I have attached the Magos‟ comments on the teeth, but it
is couched in impenetrable techno-lingua and therefore of little use to scholars. Suffice to say that he
strongly suspects the teeth are from a creature designed for void-travel.

Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts of sightings, near escapes, and daring battles.
I have spent the best part of my life chasing down these rumours and, in total, I have found three, three,
verifiable sources.

The first is the esoteric Voyages of the Crimson Tide, published in 201.M.38 by Rogue Trader Ramses
Haarlock. Included in all first editions is a photo-plate of a single tentacle of some manner of beast
latched onto the forward bridge window. The Rogue Trader records his ship was attacked upon exiting
from warp, but was able to drive off the beast with concentrated lance fire.

The second confirmed account is a single dataslate purchased in an auction on Scintilla for a quite
unreasonable sum. It details a Mechanicus Explorator autopsy of a fragment of tentacle recovered floating
in the void. Of particular note is the sheer size of the appendage: twenty-six metres in diameter.
Apparently, the unnamed dissectors used chainswords and sentinel lifters to perform major operations.

The final confirmed sighing is, at least to me, the most interesting. In 801.M40, the chartist vessel Sacred
Poverty was blown off course by a sudden warp flare. When they reentered the material plane, a cursory
sensor sweep picked up an enormous incoming mass. They made a hasty jump and went about their
business, but I was able to obtain a complete copy of the sensor logs through my connections in the
chartist fleet.

With the combined information I am able to make some preliminary and broad statements about kraken
munadis. In form, they may be said to broadly resemble the ancient Terran squid or the Burnscour land-
scuttler, being a fluked and roughly triangular body terminating in several jointless tentacular limbs. The
creature recorded by the Sacred Poverty was a little over four kilometres in length. The major tentacles,
of which there are four, are a little over three kilometres long, and a profusion of minor tentacles ring
what I tentatively identify as a beak or maw. The “teeth” favoured by so many Rogue Traders are not, in
fact, teeth. I suspect they are the gripping spines pictured in Haarlock‟s account, and may be shed or
replaced during an attack.

115
It is a sin to indulge in idle speculation, but I have a tentative hypothesis as to the creature‟s method of
attack. I suspect that they drift from system to system for thousands if not tens of thousands of years, but
can detect (or possibly predict) warp transits, and manoeuvre into position for an ambush. Their spines
and suckers are designed to break hulls apart, and, judging from the high metallic rations detected by the
Sacred Poverty, incorporated into the creature‟s structure and armour. I wonder if they evolved along the
ancient and debased spacefaring races, growing larger and stronger through the centuries. Perhaps they
evolved from creatures like the gas-whales of Josephine‟s Stair, gradually filtering out into the cold
void...

Idle speculation indeed. I must restrain myself.

The second part of this discussion concerns my theories about the kraken terribilus. In my research, I
encountered multifarious accounts of ships being attacked by a kraken-like creature while in the warp. In
some instances, the blessed Astropaths have reported visions of the great beast in sleep or while waking.
In all cases, the size reported far dwarfs any recorded encounters in real space. I therefore conclude that
we are dealing with two separate entities.

The kraken mundanis, while terrible, is a physical creature which obeys physical laws. None of my
evidence indicates that the species is capable of warp flight, or is even psychically active (beyond a
theoretical warp-sense). The kraken terribilus so often seen by those traversing the Empyrean is a
different manner of beast.

Consider, if you will, the Axiomatic Theory of the Empyrean, which states that warp creatures and events
are manifestations of the emotions and base desires of sentient minds. I then propose that the kraken
terribilus is just such a manifestation, but not one borne from the dark dreams of man. The Kraken is far,
far older.

Every psyker I have spoken with had indicated that most, if not all, animals have some manner of warp
presence. But animals do not know belief or intensities of emotion, you will say? How then can I propose
that it is the non-sentient life of the universe that spawned the Kraken?

Animals fear. The eyes in the dark, the glint of a fang, the breathing in a cave, the rustle in the grass, the
scream in the jungle, the ripple in the water, the lure of the deep: they are the Kraken. Every creature‟s
fear over a galaxy combined in one mindless entity: that is the Kraken. The Kraken hunts for it knows
nothing else. It IS the hunt! The paltry Gods of Chaos are mere mortal abstractions, but the Kraken is
eternal. It cannot be appeased or slowed or reasoned with, for it knows not reason. It cannot be worshiped
save in the briefest basest moment before death, when all the higher parts of the brain fade away and there
is only Danger and Running and Running and PAIN.

[NOTE: Archivist-Primus Conrad Kruul was found dead in his chambers upon completion of this
manuscript. The Arch-Coroner was unable to determine the cause of death, but did not the cadaver‟s jaw
was dislocated and the face was frozen in “a rictus of terror”

All of the works of Archivist-Primus Conrad Kruul are designated Security Clearance II. Unauthorized
contemplation of this work is punishable by auto-de-fe or disembowelment or both.]

116
St. Trinian’s Conservatory
There is constant debate amongst those inclined to debate such things over the best Schola Progenium in
the Imperium. Some point to the Crucible of Terra, which has produced no less than four High Lords and
several thousand of the most faithful and devoted priests in the galaxy. Some argue that the Schola
Progenium of Grand Bortsworld is the finest, for no graduate has aspired to a lesser rank than General in
the last millennium. Still others point to Frallk‟s Collective Academy record of diligence and steadfast
orthodoxy as a sign of true worth. However, every scholar can agree that St. Trinian‟s Conservatory of
Malfi is, without argument, the worst Schola to be found in the entire Imperium.

Malfi is a damned place; a den of intrigue and vice so thick that it seems, some days, that the only thing
keeping the cultists in check are their rivals. St. Trin‟s, to use the popular abbreviation, is as old as the
Sector. The original buildings (long since destroyed by arson) were built alongside the great hives of
Malfi during blessed Agevin‟s crusade. Origionally, St. Trinian‟s was intended to be a recruiting ground
for the Order of the Argent Shroud, but was unable to produce any suitable candidates in over a century of
teaching. The Order cut contact with the school, and, more importantly, cut funding. Facing bankruptcy,
the scholam‟s masters distorted their original charter. Though still an exclusively female establishment,
the school began to accept any student who could pay.

Crime lords‟ daughters mingled with the illegitimate progeny of nobles, all taught by an increasingly
incompetent staff. In the following centuries, the school was destroyed by arson four times, by hivequake
twice, and once by an unexpected flood of treacle. Nonetheless, it seems that the spirit of St. Trin‟s
endured, and each time the school was rebuilt.

The girls attending the scholam are, by all accounts, terrifying and lawless hellions. The petty crime rates
of the local area are more than five times the hive average, even including the mapped segments of the
Underhive. Both the Arbites and Administratum refuse to become involved, citing several past
endeavours which have ended in disaster. It is not surprising that the school has been investigated by the
Inquisition no less than four times. The most recent investigation, that of Inquisitor Grenfell, found
several grievous breaches of the law, chiefly:

-the operation of an illegal still, and the distribution of an illegal and highly toxic liquor.
-an extensive smuggling operation within the school itself, involving ground-car theft and narcotic sales.
-gross negligence on the part of the staff in every department.
-an abysmal educational standard in every department.
-open warfare with live (and stolen) ammunition occurring on a near-daily basis.
-theft of, in the Inquisitors words, “damn near anything that could be stolen”.
-two hundred and four thousand, seven hundred and twenty one minor infractions (occurring in just under
25 standard hours)

For a pupil population of just under five thousand, these offenses are truly monstrous and unusual.
Though it was the Inquisitor‟s recommendation that the entire student body be tossed on the pyre, she was
forced to admit that there was no sign of Infernal or Daemonic corruption amongst the students. Indeed,
her lone praise of the school was that the pupils all demonstrated a clear understanding of the Imperial
creed.

The sole reason neither Inquisitor Grenfell nor her predecessor put the pupils to the cleansing flame was
the intervention of the Lord Militant of Malfi. The scholam‟s graduating class, it seems, forms part of
Malfi‟s tithe to the Imperial Guard. Each year, roughly one hundred of St. Trinian‟s former pupils join the
Thirty-Second Malfian Close-Range Support Regiment. Their battle record is fearsome, but entirely
unorthodox. It is the task of another document to cover the multifarious perversions and failures of that
unit.

117
Bidders at the Auction
Toiziko Fraae:
Heir-in-training to the Fraae chemical fortune, Toiziko is a charismatic but restrained leader. She has
contacts in most of Scintillan industry, and many powerful friends. Most of the nobility consider her and
her family upstarts, and refuse to associate with them in formal settings, but nonetheless respect the power
she wields. Recently, Toiziko has fallen in with a crowd of eclectic bounty hunters, collectors, and avant-
garde artists. Though her father, the immensely wealthy Haurimoto Fraae, knows of her illicit activities,
he has yet to mention it. After all, she hasn‟t done anything particularly illegal, yet...

Toiziko has a best-quality implanted respirator and agumentic lungs, a wise precaution in her line of
work. She also has one of her arms replaced with a near-unnoticeable bionic, and has a one-shot stunner
mounted in the fingertips. Of course, a cursory auspex scan would reveal the modifications with ease.

At the auction, she‟s wearing a flak-coat over fairly plain clothing. Her bodyguards are dressed similarly.
Knowing ranged weapons would have to be left at the door, all are bearing knives and bludgeons.

Boss Zon:
For reasons only he knows, one of the leaders of an underworld Scintillan crime ring known as the Seven
Eyes has a decided to attend the auction. It‟s possible he intends to buy proscribed xenos artworks and
resell them at a higher price on Scintilla. It‟s also possible he knows the auction‟s true intent, and wants to
settle a score with one of the other bidders during the probable chaos.

Boss Zon is rarely without a lit lho-stick cradled in his podgy fingers. One of the nails is false: a poison
pellet, and his big toe is a chunk of plastic explosive. Both modifications are standard in the Seven Eyes.
He is dressed in a black formal suit, and his bodyguards are dressed in identical grey suits. Under the
suits, they are hired thugs of the lowest sort, making them dangerous in close quarters.

O-O the Odd:


Purveyor of antiques, rarities, works proscribed, O-O is a man rumoured to be able to sell anything, to
anyone, no matter the difficulties involved. Some whisper that he has delved a little too deeply into what
he sells, but certainties are few and far between. He hasn‟t brought any guards to the auction: perhaps he
knows he‟s more useful alive than dead. Or, he has some tricks up his voluminous sleeves. Auspex didn‟t
show any weapons or agumentics, but the billowing cassock he wears could conceal any number of
things.

Nobody knows how O-O is able to afford the strange purchases he occasionally makes, but he always
pays in wads of old Imperial Thrones.

Marcus Aurien:
Former employee of the Olivares dynasty, Marcus held together the network of contacts the Olivares had
cultivated by force of will and boundless ingenuity. He owns and operates a small intra-stellar charter
fleet about Scintilla, mostly legal shipping and passenger trade. Of course, his presence at the auction
means that he has some illegal connections, or perhaps just fancies some new art for his office. In either
case, he will be sympathetic the aims of Laertes. Von Caius knows who he is, and Marcus has heard
rumours of the poisoning. It‟s possible that they might come to conflict, or at least heated discourse.

Marcus‟ bodyguards are large, imposing men and women augmented with subdermal armour and
concealed knives. Marcus himself bears a sword, and is surprised scans failed to detect his digi-melta
ring. Of course, he doesn‟t know that he‟s keeping that ring for a reason...

118
Captain Rubio, of the Silver Hawk:
Dressed extravagantly in what he imagines is the style of Rogue Traders, Captain Rubio is an appalling
fake. He‟s the third son of a Chartist captain, and his tales of adventures are entirely lies. It‟s doubtful
he‟s seen any stars other than his family‟s lucrative trade-route. He carries a powerblade, but doesn‟t have
any idea how to properly wield it.

The Silver Hawk, parked in what he fancies in a menacing orbit, is an aging and ill-prepared yacht, hardly
worthy of the praises he lavishes upon it. His bodyguards are loyal only to his coin, and as ill-prepared as
he is.

Rogue Trader Magyar Marshrek:


Marshrek holds a minor charter, and seems content to spend his time game-hunting and capturing rare
beasts. His carapace armour is battered and worn, and he wears a stinking xeno-pelt over his broad
shoulders. His left eye is artificial: probably giving him thermal sight and enhanced tracking abilities. He
is alone, and carries a serrated knife he is most proficient in using, rumours be believed. If it comes to
conflict, he will most likely flee, or stalk a target stealthily.

He‟s had contract with the von Caius in the past, often smuggling xeno beasts to Solomon or to private
holdings for the clan. It‟s possible von Caius had him go in first, to scout the area before his arrival and
root out trouble.

Hiram Fienni:
Scion of a lesser noble house of Scintilla. Not much of a personality or a threat. His family deals
primarily in art and rarities, most of which are fakes sold to the gullible and unwary. He‟s probably here
to buy more artwork to replicate, assuming what‟s on sale is fake. He might be in for more than he
bargained for, as his cash reserves won‟t allow him to buy more than one or two small pieces. Of all the
bidders, he‟s the most likely to leave early.

Hiram is a young man dressed quite well, but totally untrained in combat or firearms. His three
bodyguards are hired swords, literally. In all probability, they owe no particular loyalty to Hiram, if they
even know who he is. He has also brought along a personal scribe.

Lady Claudia McDouglas:


Another Scintillan noble, this time from a banking house. This is the first auction of this sort that she‟s
attended, and may be overwhelmed or disgusted by the variety of guests. On the other hand, her house is
both wealthy and well-connected, meaning she can bid with the best of them. She‟s rather beautiful, but
also quite chilly to those she perceives as “beneath her station”. Her eyes are both agumentic, but
cunningly designed and near invisible. They contain a photo-visor and a simple memorance implant.

Lady Claudia is accompanied by five bodyguards, who are bonded retainers of the house and above petty
rivalry. As is tradition, they‟ve all had their tongues removed. Unfortunately, Lady Claudia didn‟t
anticipate or remember the ban on ranged weaponry, and her guards are essentially unarmed.

119
The Idumean Recruits
Quartermaster-General Octus Galenza
Clove, Hazeroth Subsector
I told you when last I wrote, dear brother, that a certain Rogue Trader had promised us fresh recruits for
the Drusian Dragoons. I was a low Quartermaster-Commandant then, six long years ago, and I was
pleased. I expected a few thousand new recruits, perhaps a third of which would prove worthy soldiers.
After all, they did hail from that mad forge-world Idumea, where death is currency and insanity is trade.

Yes, I hoped to bring my (I say “my”, but, of course, I was not their commander) 11th Drusian Dragoons
to full strength after their long tour on Tranch. It was not to be. In a meeting with the Quartermaster-Lord
of Clove, he announced, to my great astonishment, that new regiments would be founded from whole
cloth from our “supply” of recruits, and that the 11th would have to rebuild in “the normal way.”

It was there that I learned of the scale of the undertaking which consumed the next four years of my life.
Twenty-three million recruits. Twenty-three million! And the paperwork had been signed by no less a
personage than the Lord Sector himself! We couldn‟t turn them away even if we wanted to.

In the eight months it took for the first of the recruits to arrive, Clove entered a frenzy of productivity. We
have always had strong ties to Idumea, and some forge-adepts arrived to overhaul our local production
facilities. Even with the entire populace mobilized, the Adepts estimated it would take a full decade to
arm and prepare the 41 regiments we were expected to produce.

Perhaps a small digression here. Your son, Pater, is still interested in military custom? He might like this.

The Dragoons are organized into Regiments. From the 1st, founded during the Angevin Crusade, to the
23rd, new-raised on Clove, we have a proud tradition. The Departmento Munitorum classified our
Regiments as “Regimentae Magnus”, meaning that what we consider one Regiment some worlds would
consider one hundred.

Each Regiment is, at founding, 505,000 men and women strong. I cannot say why: it is one of those
ancient and most noble inscrutable traditions. Each Regiment is subdivided into 505 Battalion of one
thousand men each. Standard Regiments have 300 Infantry battalions, 100 Armored battalions
(approximately 100 vehicles per), 75 Artillery battalions (approximately 75 vehicles per), and 30 Support
battalions, including Command staff, Medicae, Munitorium, Administratum, and various other support, as
well as a small independent motor pool.

As you can plainly see, the demands placed on us by the Lord Sector and the Munitorum were ludicrous!
We had to produce, in a few short years, over 200,000 front-line battle-tanks, for a start, a clearly
impossible task. That we did all is owing solely to three factors: the God Emperor and St. Drusus, the
Tech-Priests of Idumea, and the recruits themselves.

We are Drusian, here on Clove. The idea of a crusade speaks deeply to us, and this coming crusade into
the Koronus Expanse was almost a spiritual matter from the moment it was announced. The Ecclesiarchy,
in their wisdom, leant weight to our efforts. From inspiring the workers, ensuring the devotion and proper
indoctrination of the recruits, and providing good credit for our many loans, the Church carried us through
the Great Founding.

120
The Tech-Adepts of Idumea, for their own reasons, were interested. We purchased much material and
armor from them, true, but I suspect the real reason they intervened was curiosity. It is said that the Magi
conduct grand experiments on a planetary scale, and Clove became a testing ground. Tech-Adepts
arrived, set up or modified forges, manufactories, and mines, and the din of industry swept Clove. We
estimate that they increased our output nearly one hundred fold for those four years.

Then came the recruits. Each was a volunteer, or so we were told, from a “rescinded” Idumean forge-
hive. They arrived pale and thin into the sunlight of Clove.

I suspect that the Tech-Priests breed their mortal servants for cleverness, obedience, and durability, for the
Idumean recruits had all these qualities beyond measure. Between training and rest, they were ordered to
work shifts at the new-constructed forge-works, and did quite well.

Their accent was curious, but understandable, though some spoke only in forge-cant until they learned
Low Gothic more completely. The Idumean recruits have tremendous fortitude. Despite their sickly
appearance, they could best our veterans in obstacle training or long-distance marches. They lack original
thinking under fire, true, but we have trained many officers for them. The Idumeans also seem to lack that
capacity for lewd and licentious behavior that would mar the record of so many regiments. It was if all
they do is drill, march, work, eat, sleep, and pray. They pray well and with conviction; their faith in the
Emperor and St. Drusus is strong. Sometimes, they tell stories of their homeworld.

You‟ve seen the standard uniform, I think, on your last visit. Then again, that was 20 years ago, dear
brother, and your memory may have lapsed. The Dragoons wear grey flack armor, a silvered carapace
chestplate (front and back, as well as shoulder pauldrons), and a silvered helm, which covered the full
head and neck when the visor is lowered. The standard infantry rifle is the Armageddon-pattern autogun,
a solid and dependable weapon, supplemented with grenades. Officers usually carry a chainsword and
pistol, and special weapon teams are distributed as weapons and the vagaries of war allow.

Our vehicles are most excellent. Idumean-pattern Chimeras (pic-example attached), Euryale Assault
Transports (pic-example attached), and all varieties of Leman Russ and Malcador. The Mechanicus have
even seen fit to bless us with three Baneblade superheavies, though their deployment will be most
carefully monitored. The camouflage scheme is to be grey and black, mottled.

But I ramble on. I wrote to tell you of my promotion. I am now a Quartermaster-General, of the 39th
Dragoons. We depart for the Expanse tomorrow, after six long years of training, waiting, and preparing.
The transports will arrive soon, and the landing fields have been cleared. The Rogue Trader, Laertes
Geneso Olivares, came to Clove and spoke with the senior commanders, myself included. He seemed a
pious man, full of serious intent, but with an air of mad charisma that would, I fancy, cause a hardened
heretic to reconvert on the spot.

I cannot reveal our destination or foe, but I can say that my chances of survival are unpleasantly slim. Tell
our mother and sister that I am well, and that I go to do the Emperor‟s work.

121
The
T L Laertes Genesso Olivvares

de to Faashion in
Guide i the 41st
4 M Millennnium

122 
 
   

123 
 
   

124 
 
 

Stats, Formations, and Ships

Being a collection of
Numbers and Words
that are
Most Uninteresting

125 
 
“How stand I then,
that hath a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,
excitements of my reason and my blood
and let all sleep? while to my shame I see
the imminent deaths of twenty thousand men,
that, for a fantasy and trick of fame
go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
whereon the numbers cannot try the cause
which is not tomb and contient enough
to hide the slain? O, from this day forth
my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!”

Hamlet
Act 4, Scene iv

126 
 
The Combined Crusade Fleet
prior to the
Battle of the Processional
Battleships and Battlecruisers

Cardinal Boras, Retribution-class Battleship, on loan from the Gothic Sector. Fleet flagship.
The Axiom, Emperor-class Battleship
Divine Right, Emperor-class Battleship
Furious, Mars-class Battlecruiser

Cruiser Formation Alpha

Higher Ground, Lunar-class Cruiser


Fire from on High, Lunar-class Cruiser
Blessed Radiance, Lunar-class Cruiser

Cruiser Formation Beta

Gorgon's Claw, Lunar-class Cruiser


His Magnificence, Lunar-class Cruiser
Adjudicator, Lunar-class Cruiser

Cruiser Formation Gamma

Litany of Hatred, Lunar-class Cruiser


Righteousness, Tyrant-class Cruiser
Ascendancy, Dictator-class Light Cruiser

Cruiser Formation Delta

Fist of Fury, Dominator-class Cruiser


Cannonade of Destruction, Dominator-class Cruiser

Light Cruiser Formation Aleph

Baron Sauarcrat, Dauntless-class Light Cruiser


Blood and Thunder, Dauntless-class Light Cruiser
Malfia’s Revenge, Dauntless-class Light Cruiser
Uziel, Dauntless-class Light Cruiser

Light Cruiser Formation Beth

Unhesitating Stance, Defiant-class Light Cruiser


Aegis of the Virtuous, Defiant-class Light Cruiser
Pious Deference, Defiant-class Light Cruiser

Victory in the Void, Endeavour-class Light Cruiser

127 
 
Escort Formation A

4 Sword-class Frigates

Escort Formation B

2 Sword-class Frigates

Escort Formation C

2 Firestorm-class Frigates

Escort Formation D

2 Firestorm-class Frigates

Escort Formation E

5 Cobra-class Destroyers

Escort Formation F

5 Cobra-class Destroyers

Total Navy ships in deployment: 3 battleships, 1 battlecruiser, 10 Cruisers, 9 Light Cruisers, 20 escorts:
43 ships.

Rogue Trader Ships (active participants with at least one confirmed hit):

1. Lady Charlabelle, frigate and transport


2. Lord Admiral Bastille, cruiser, 2 frigates, 1 destroyer
3. Lady Sun Lee, light cruiser, 2 raiders, transport
4. Winterscale, battleship, cruiser, 5 frigates, 2destroyers, 2 transports
5. Jerimah Blitz, cruiser
6. Duke of Blood, cruiser
7. Bandershand Flood, cruiser
8. Chorda, light cruiser, 5 raiders
9. Saul, 2 frigates, 3 transports
10. Wrath Umbolt, 1 cruiser, 1 raider, 1 transport
11. Valacetti, 1 cruiser, 2 frigates, 2 transports
12. Abel Garret, heavy raider
13. Djanko Scourge, light cruiser

Pirates:

Five clan formations, each consisting of three raiders and two heavy raiders.

Mechanicus and Transports:

1 Ark (battleship), six cruisers, two escort formation of five frigates

1 Battlebarge

5 Imperial Guard transports

128 
 
His Invincible Will
Lunar-Class Cruiser
Complications/Past History: Resolute, Wrested from a Space Hulk

Speed: 5
Manoeuvrability: +13
Detection: +10
Turret Rating: 2
Shields: 2
Armour: 21
Hull Integrity: 73

Crew%: 100
Morale: 109

Crew: 50 (Veteran)

Weapons:
Port and Starboard Titanforge Lance Batteries
Port and Starboard Mars Pattern Macrocannon Broadsides
Prow Sunsear Laser Battery

Essential Components:
Jovian Class 4 Dive, Strelov 2 Warp Engine
Warpsbane Hull
Ship Master's Bridge
Aegis-pattern Life Sustainers
Voidsmen Quarters
M.100 Auger Array
Multiple Void Shield Array

Supplemental Components:
Compartmentalized Cargo Hold
Temple-Shrine to the God-Emperor
Teleportarium
Murder Servitors
Zanth Autoloaders (1 power, 1 space, +1 damage to Macrocannons)

Bonuses: +10 to BS for weapons, +5 to Piloting and Navigation, to +10 to warp navigation, reroll warp
encounters, +100 AP to Trade, +100 AP to Creed, +20 to Hit and Run Command Tests

129 
 
The Envenomed Blade
Havoc-Class Merchant Raider
Complications/Past History: Rebellious, Turbulent Past

Speed: 9
Manoeuvrability: +22
Detection: +20
Hull Integrity: 30
Armour: 20
Space: 40
Void Shields: 1
Turret Rating: 1

Morale: 101
Crew Population: 100

Crew: 40 (Crack)

Weapons:
Dorsal Sunsear Battery, Prow Sunsear Battery

Essential Components:
Jovian Class 2 Drive, Strelov 1 Warp Engine, Gellar Field, Single Void-Shield Array, Command Bridge,
Viate Life-Sustainer, Voidsmen Quarters, Deep Void Auger Array

Supplemental Components:
Stowage Bays, Agumented Retro-Thrusters, Armour Plating x4, Observation Dome

Bonuses: +5 to BS for weapons, +5 Command tests on bridge, to +10 to warp navigation, reroll warp
encounters, -20 to interaction with pirates, +20 when interacting with Navy, +50 AP to Exploration, +1 to
Crew Morale

The ship was entirely rebuilt at the command of the Lathe Mechanicus. Virtually the only components
which remained from the original raider were the hull, the grav-plates, and the engines. At great expense,
the Mechanicus mounted one of their finest auger arrays on the ship, and modified the armour plating
using strange metals forged in the Lathe furnaces. The extra mass is offset by modified retro-thrusters.
The two sunsear batteries let the ship strike at range, harrying a fleeing craft.

One of the most impressive features is the magnificent glasswork which graces the upper hull. Fitted with
light-sensitive panels and deployable armour for warp travel, it is truly a marvel of engineering. Dray has
captained her from before her engines had even fired, and he captains her still.

130 
 
Yorick’s Bane
Sword-Class Frigate
Speed: 9
Manoeuvrability: +17
Detection: +15
Turret Rating: 2
Shields: 1
Armour: 18
Hull Integrity: 35

Crew%: 100
Morale: 100+1

Weapons:
Dorsal Ryza-Pattern Plasma Battery
Dorsal Ryza-Pattern Plasma Battery

Essential Components:
Modified Jovian-Pattern Class 2 Drive
Strelov 1 Warp Engine
Warpsbane Hull
Single Void Shield Array
Command Bridge
M.1-r Life Sustainer
Pressed Crew Quarters
M. 100b Auger Array

Supplemental Components:
Cargo Hold and Lighter Bay
Munitorium
Extended Supply Vaults
Trophy Room

Bonuses:
+5 to BS, +5 to Command (from bridge), +100 Trade Ap, +50 Exploration, +50 Criminal, +35 Military
Ap, +1 Damage from all Macrocannons, Increase all Morale losses by 1

131 
 
Fifth Business
Firestorm-Class Frigate
Speed: 8
Manoeuvrability: +20+5
Detection: +13 +5
Turret Rating: 2
Shields: 1
Armour: 18
Hull Integrity: 36

Crew%: 100
Morale: 100-3-2+3

Weapons:
Prow Titanforge Lance Weapon
Dorsal Sunsear Laser Battery

Essential Components:
Jovian-Pattern Class 2 Drive
Strelov 1 Warp Engine
Warpsbane Hull
Single Void Shield Array
Command Bridge
M.1-r Life Sustainer
Pressed Crew Quarters
M. 201b Auger Array

Supplemental Components:
Luxury Passenger Quarters
Reinforced Interior Bulkheads
Augmented Retro-Thrusters
Tenebro-Maze
Temple-Shrine to the God-Emperor

Bonuses:
+5 to BS, +5 to Command (from bridge), +10 bonus to all Warp navigation tests, roll twice on the Warp
Encounters table, increase all morale loss by 1., +10 to Command tests to oppose boarding actions, may
select location of critical hit, +100 AP to Trade, +100AP to Criminal, +200AP to Creed.

132 
 
The Rosencrantz
Dauntless-Class Light Cruiser
 
Speed: 7
Manoeuvrability: +15
Detection: +30
Turret Rating: 1
Shields: 1
Armour: 20
Hull Integrity: 63

Essential Components:
Jovian-Pattern Class 3 Drive
Strelov 2 Warp Engine
Warpsbane Hull
Single Void Shield Array
Command Bridge
M.1-r Life Sustainer
Pressed Crew Quarters
Deep Void Auger Array

Weapons:
Prow Sunsears
Port and Starboard Launch Bays

Supplemental Components:
Cargo Hold and Lighter Bay
2x Barracks
Temple-Shrine to the God-Emperor
Re-enforced Interior Bulkheads
Augmented Retro-Thrusters
Armour Plating

Crew%: 100
Morale: 101

Bonuses:
+5 to BS, +5 to Command (from bridge), +10 bonus to all Warp navigation tests, Roll twice on the Warp
Encounters table, Increase all morale loss by 1., +20 to Boarding actions, +200 AP to Military, +100 A to
Creed, +50 AP to Trade, +50 AP to Military

133 
 
Captain Laertes Geneso Olivares
Rogue Trader
WS BS S T Ag Int Per Wp Fel
50 60 30 42 50 50 27 55 68

Movement: 5/ 10/ 15/ 30/ Sprint: 60

Skills: Acrobatics, Awareness +10, Barter, Blather +20, Charm +20, Ciphers (R.T), Command
+20, Common Lore (Imperium, Rogue Traders, Imperial Navy, Koronus Expanse), Deceive +20,
Dodge +20, Forbidden Lore (Xenos) +10, Gamble, Intimidate +10, Literacy, Navigation (stellar)
Pilot (Spacecraft, Flyers), Scholastic Lore (Astromancy, Legend), Secret Tongue (R.T), Sleight
of Hand, Speak Language (High and Low Gothic, Ship’s Cant, Eldar)

Talents: Air of Authority, Ambidextrous, Asssasin’s Strike, Blademaster, Dark Soul,


Decadence, Disarm, Double-Team, Duty unto Death, Exotic Weapon Training (Death Arc,
Warscythe), Fearless, Hip Shooting, Jaded, Iron Discipline, Lightning Attack, Master Orator,
Melee Weapon Training (Universal), Mighty Shot, Paranoia, Pistol Weapon Training
(Universal), Polyglot, Quick Draw, Renown Warrant, Sprint, Resistance (Psychic Powers), Step
Aside, Sure Strike, Swift Attack, Talented (Charm), Touched by Fate (2), True Grit, Twin
Weapon Training (Melee, Ballistic), Void Tactician, Wall of Steel,

Special Abilities: Charmed, Exceptional Leader, Do You Know Who I AM?, Lord Captain, My
Captain

Wounds: 23
Corruption Points: 21
Insanity Points: 32
Profit Factor: 74

Gear: Best Craftsmanship Power Sword (Mordian) (1d10+9*E, Pen 5, Power Field, Balanced),
Best Craftsmanship Bolt Pistol (with Lathe Penetrator rounds) (30m, S/2/-, 1d10 +5 I, Pen 6, clip
of 8,Tearing, Knockdown), Xenarch Death Arc (R.H. p. 200)

Best Craftsmanship Hexagrammically Warded Storm Trooper Carapace armour (7 all), Refractor
Field (subtract 2d10 damage from ranged weapons), 1d10 x 1000 Throne Gelt in petty cash,
assorted credit blocks, 1d5 dataslates of Krakenslayer, signet ring, copy of the Sermons of St.
Beryl the Perpetually Cross, assorted loot.

*includes Str. Bonus

134 
 
Do You Know Who I AM?
Your name has become whispered legend and a byword for... something. There are few, even
among the damned, or the unfaithful, who do not know your name. Even beyond the bounds of
the Imperium, there are those who whisper it with fear or awe. Once per game session, the
character may succeed on any one Interaction skill test in the minimum time required. If degrees
of success are a factor, the character is considered to have rolled a 01 on the test.

Lord Captain! My Captain!

Your crew are loyal to you and you alone, willing to lay down their lives at your slightest word.
Your authority and control of your ships is unparalleled, with every crewman striving his utmost
to serve. All tests taken by NPC crew while you are known to be aboard a ship under your
command gain +10. This ability may stack with Exceptional Leader, giving one test per round a
cumulative +20 bonus. In addition, your ship never takes penalties for morale loss, though
mutiny is tested for normally.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Captain Olivares
On the Bridge
LordCaptain Olivares
In Uniform
 

135 
 
 
Magos Plan B. Robertson
Explorator
WS BS S T Ag Int Per Wp Fel
50 60 80 62 30 74 (14) 30 42 20

Movement: 4/ 8/ 12/ 24/ Sprint: 48

Skills: Awareness +10, Chem Use, Common Lore (All) +10, Concealment -10, Dodge +20,
Drive (Ground Vehicle), Forbidden Lore (Archeotech, Adeptus Mechanicus), Intimidate,
Inquiry, Literacy, Logic, Medicae +20, Scholastic Lore (All) +10, Secret Tongue (Rogue
Trader), Security, Speak Language (Explorator Binary, Low Gothic, Techna-Lingua), Tech Use
+20 (effective Tech-Use, factoring in all bonuses, is +70), Trade (Armourer, Technomat,
Shipwright)

Talents: Ambidextrous, Autosanguine, Basic Weapon Training (Universal), Binary Chatter,


Blademaster, Concealed Cavity, Counterattack, Crushing Blow, Deadeye Shot, Electro-Graft
Use, Enemy (Ecclesiarchy), Energy Cache, Enhanced Bionic Frame, Feedback Screech, Ferric
Lure, Ferric Summons, Furious Assault, Good Reputation (Adeptus Mechanicus), Heightened
Senses (Sight, Hearing), Indepenent Targeting, Infused Knowledge, Iron Jaw, Lightning Attack,
Logis Implant, Luminen Blast, Luminen Charge, Luminen Shock, Machinator Array, Maglev
Grace, Maglev Transcendence, Marksman, Master Chiurgeon, Master Enginseer, Mechanicus
Implants, Melee Weapon Training (Universal), Mighty Shot, Mimic, Nerves of Steel, Peer
(Adeptus Mechanicus), Prosanguine, Rapid Reload, Resistance (Fear), Rite of Awe, Rite of Fear,
Sprint, Step Aside, Swift Attack, Talented (Tech-Use), Technical Knock, The Flesh is Weak 4,
Total Recall, Two Weapon Weilder (Ballistic), Utility Mechandendrite Training, Void Tactician,
Wall of Steel.

Traits: Unnatural Intelligence x2, Hulking

Special Abilities: Soul of Iron, Armour-Monger (Ascension p.75)

Wounds: 30
Corruption Points: 14
Insanity Points: 17

Gear: Good Craftsmanship Omnissian Axe (2d10 +14*E, Pen 6, Power Field, Unbalanced), 2x
wrist-mounted Best-Craftsmanship MIU-linked Storm Bolters (with Lathe Penetrator rounds)
(45m, S/2/4, 1d10+6I, Pen 6, clip of 60, Storm, Tearing, Knockdown)

Best Craftsmanship Dragonscale Integrated Power Armour (9 all), Archeoweave Cloak (+3 AP
to all), Good Craftsmanship Bionic Arms, Good Craftsmanship Legs, Good Craftsmanship
Bionic Respiratory System, Good Craftsmanship Bionic Heart, Good Craftsmanship Cranial
Armour, Synthetic Muscle Grafts, Subdermal Armour,

137 
 
Total AP: 19 to Head, 20 to Limbs, 21 to Body
Combi-tool, injector, Utility Mechandendrite, Servo Arm (Ascension p.148), Vox-Caster, 1d10
Servo-Skulls, Multi-key, spare void suit, 4x Frag grenades

*includes Str. Bon

The stats above represent Magos Robertson as he could be encountered before the events of the
Processional of the Damned and the Necrontyr Wars. Although his physical shell above was
destroyed, his keen mind lives on in the cogitator-relays and circuts of His Invincible Will. When
he can be bothered to interfere in the affairs of mortals, the profile of his customized servo-skull
is given below.

Magos Plan B. Robertson


Servo-Skull
WS BS S T Ag Int Per Wp Fel
20 60 15 30 30 74 (21) 30 42 20

Movement: Flyer 6 /12 / 18 / 36 / Sprint: 72

Skills: Awareness +10, Chem Use, Common Lore (All) +10, Concealment +20, Dodge +20,
Drive (Ground Vehicle), Forbidden Lore (Archeotech, Adeptus Mechanicus), Literacy, Logic,
Medicae +20, Scholastic Lore (All) +10, Secret Tongue (Rogue Trader), Security, Speak
Language (Explorator Binary, Low Gothic, Techna-Lingua), Tech Use +20 (effective Tech-Use,
factoring in all bonuses, is +70), Trade (Armourer, Technomat, Shipwright)

Talents: Binary Chatter, Blademaster, Deadeye Shot, Enemy (Ecclesiarchy), Feedback Screech,
Ferric Lure, Ferric Summons, Heightened Senses (Sight, Hearing), Fearless, Indepenent
Targeting, Infused Knowledge, Logis Implant, Marksman, Master Chiurgeon, Master Engiseer,
Mighty Shot, Mimic, Rite of Awe, Rite of Fear, Sprint, Step Aside, Talented (Tech-Use),
Technical Knock, Total Recall, Void Tactician

Traits: Puny, Dark Sight, Flyer (8), Unnatural Int (x3) (only when linked to orbit by vox)

Arnour: Machine 4

Gear: Best Craftsmanship Compact Bolt Pistol (with Lathe Penetrator rounds) (10m, S/2/-, 1d10
+6 I, Pen 6, clip of 4,Tearing, Knockdown)

Inbuilt vox array, auspex, pic-capture unit, cogitator, and combi-tool

138 
 
Magos Robertson
In Full Armour

139 
 
M s Robe
Magos bertson
Exami
E ining Fleet
F Deploy
D yment

140 
 
“If thou did ever hold me in thy heart
absent thee from felicity a while
and in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
to tell my story.”

Hamlet
Act 5, Scene ii

141 
 
This Compendium was written and produced by

DiesIrae
of
RPGnet
with the invaluable aid of posters and commenters multifarious,
not limited to

Azezel
Bayonder
Calavignian
Charade
Cornuthaum
Dakkareth
DeusIrae
erithromycin
Kaleb7
kelvingreen
Kilgs
KJDavid
kyre
Gogmagog
Gullinbursti
Lindgaard
locke.dragnarok

142 
 
Mr.Adventurer
Packrat
PaulTucker
Prince1s
randombugger
Reason
Redlimit
Rocket Propelled Grenade
Rylan
stephen_dean
SuperCthulhu
quicksilver_502
TheLoneAmigo
Vran Du
Will-OC
WillyTheSquid
yllib enaz
Zartes

Every Captain needs loyal (or at least well-bribed) followers, and I thank you
all humbly for reading my thread, posting your comments, correcting my errors,
and giving me advice.

Thank you to my GM and the Magos’ player, for putting up with my puns
and my plans.

Please feel free to print, mangle, repeat, slander, or distribute this


document as you see fit, provided you have fun doing so.

143