(600 + GE)
Personal Cipher Engaged
Subject: The Emperor’s Righteous Fury
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “No Sacrifice is Too Great for the Emperor’s Service”
It took us only about a standard month to get the Forgehammer up to minimum capability. Considering the logistical nightmare involved, this is nothing short of a divine miracle. As we are taught, however, the Emperor moves through the efforts of his children, and I do not diminish the skill and capabilities of Cousin Roland’s trusted officers and retainers.
Moving 90,000 people out of the ship that many of them have served for generations onto an entirely new vessel, with entirely new systems and mechanisms, with nothing but eccentric tech-priests lost to the Imperium for 7 centuries to instruct them, knowing they’ll have to pull double duty because we’re now about 44,000 people short from optimal crew capacity, was never going to be easy. Not to mention the fact that many of the armaments of the Forgehammer are actively dangerous to the ship and crew if misfired or misused.
Fortunately, between Svenya, who is widely known as an authority-figure among the crew, and Darrius whose particular talents lend his mind to logistical problems of this complexity, the details were hashed out fairly quickly. Cousin Roland demonstrated his remarkable capacity to lead, orchestrating the move in a manner minimally disruptive to the crew-clans, while Steihr managed to mediate a doctrinal schism between the Tech-priests we brought with us and the ones that came with the ship. Missionary Tyrian called upon the faith of the crew to set aside their fears and misgivings in such a life-altering move, rotating the clan-leaders and lay priesthood through services in the half-restored Temple-Shrine, while our Navigator Primaris ensured her family was properly settled, and that the eccentric and ancient navigation systems were operational.
The machine spirits of this vast warship were brought ponderously to wakefulness. We have a lovely ceremony where command and ownership of the Sovereign of the Void was formally handed to the Julius Zora, the Consul, while he likewise granted formal command and ownership of the Forgehammer to Lord-Captain Roland de Carvajal. And with that, the Consul and his fleet vanished into the warp, leaving this asteroid-base empty and powered down. There was some discussion about appropriating it for our use, as apparently the Consul no longer needs it, but we simply didn’t have the manpower to leave any behind to man a small ship-repair and resupply station, and so we marked the location on our charts, and left it for now.
I invited the various senior officers and agents to a formal dinner commemorating the consecration of this new vessel. Missionary Tyrian, along with Cousin Roland, consecrated this vessel of war with the Lord-Captain’s blood, and invoked the Emperor’s blessing. Finally the truculent spirits of the vessel seemed to recognize their new master, and we gathered to celebrate. Over the main course, I asked Cousin Roland where he intended to go next, and gave him the benefit of the various correspondence I had spent the month engaged in via our Astropathic choir.
I informed him that the Imperial pacification efforts of the old Licenian Regency were well under way, but three of the seven core planets were still in upheaval. Vitruvia, Caedicius, and Galer had not yet succumbed to Imperial governance, and a warship of our new size and stature could be a significant aid in such efforts. There was also the concern of where to get more crew, and the idea was floated of press-ganging parts of the population of Galer. I also mentioned the loose-end of the Throne of the Sky Father, which Dynasty Haram was theoretically still watching over (and salvaging their 20%). Steihr suggested the idea that, with enough time and the right personnel, we could convert this secret asteroid base into a small shipyard and actually rehabilitate some of the wrecks from that ravaged planet and, over time, rebuild our fleet. It was definitely an idea worth pursuing as a long-term engine of profit and power. I somewhat casually suggested a third option, not seriously anticipating that Cousin Roland would find it appealing. I had learned through my contacts in Battlefleet Ixaniad that a task force under Lady-Captain Antigone Zenobia had been assigned to assault Port Constance and destroy it. I had presumed, what with our previous aborted visit to that benighted place, that while we may have been to originators of this naval action, that Roland would not wish to risk our under-manned ship on a full-on naval engagement.
I underestimated his ingenuity. We set course for the planet of Ymir-3 where we rendezvoused with the Lady-Captain. Cousin Roland turned up the charm during the tour he gave her of our new ship, and by the end of it, had managed to arrange for the Forgehammer to be brought up to full manpower via a combination of conscripts from the newly-reintegrated planet below, as well as trained naval personnel familiar with plasma weaponry. He even secured a few pilots to begin the training regimen to bring our small attack craft up to speed, although that would be a process taking a bit longer than we had before the planned engagement.
We accompanied the Lady-Captain’s flagship, the Starburst, and two raider-class vessels, the Demeter and the Red Star, to the location of Port Constance. Lady-Captain Antigone commanded the overall fleet from our bridge, as it is optimized for such activity. Upon detecting the mysterious xenos-tech cloud obscuring the station, we began the engagement with a shell from our nova cannon, and the battle was engaged. Although the first nova cannon shell flew a bit far, it did clear some of the cloud, and Steihr, having changed position to become our new Master of Ordinance, honed in his aim and in subsequent volleys cleared much of the cloud and did significant damage to the station. The station did not prove defenseless, however. The cloud itself was the most terrifying weapon, becoming charged with unnatural energies which lashed out like arcs of lightning, slashing through void shields and armor alike, and plucking the souls of all within, causing crew riots and serious moral problems. Fortunately, the station’s guns seemed as stymied by the cloud as ours were.
While Lady-Captain Antigone ordered her vessels to encircle the station to find a place in the cloud we had cleared enough with nova cannon fire to attack the station directly, we held back at long range with the nova cannon and sought to guide the overall battle. The xenos cloud-weapon was truly awful, but between Missionary Tyrian and Cousin Roland exhorting our crew, they were able to put the terror behind them. Astropath Darrius utilized his own skills to increase the aim and efficiency of our efforts, while Navigator Primaris Soteris utilized the unique sight of her kind to monitor the situation. Svenya at the helm made a ship of this size veritably dance.
Ultimately we did enough damage to the station that the cloud ceased its lightning and sudden communication from human-sounding voices entreated us to cease fire, claiming innocent families and imperial servants aboard. Darrius determined that the alien presence he sensed aboard the station had moved, through some mysterious means, into the holds of the Red Star, our allied vessel. Lady-Captain Antigone, hearing this, recognizing that swift action needed to be taken with firm resolve, jammed the Red Star’s communications and ordered all ships to fire upon her own vessel and destroy it. This we did, sending 20,000 souls to the Emperor, including loyal naval officers. I admit to being impressed. I’m not sure I could have acted to quickly and with such grim purpose on the word of a single astropath, but Svenya asserted inquisitorial authority and commended the officers and crews of the other vessels who had just turned their guns on one of their own, mitigating the consequences for the Lady-Captain.
We have a few moments while order is restored once more to shaken crews before preparing a boarding action onto Port Constance. I dread to learn what my intrepid comrades might find over there.
Cipher Lock Disengaged.