(700 + GE)
Personal Cipher Engaged
Subject: A Trial of Faith
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor Tests the Worthy”
My heart lies conflicted. The Will of the Emperor as interpreted over the millenia by the Ecclesiarchs holds that loyalty to one’s family is second only to loyalty to the Emperor himself, yet now that I know the slayer of my father, my brothers and my nephews I find those two loyalties in opposition.
I suppose I should attempt to organize my thoughts chronologically. After being informed that an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos would be shortly arriving at Port Echo, and wished to charter our vessel for an unknown purpose, Cousin Roland determined that we still had time to look into some of the more intriguing hints in the two-millenia-old records of Arch-Missionary Vargas Lin. We entered the Licenian subsector in search of the lost Port Constance, a naval station that current naval records do not record. We encountered the station, or rather the thick cloud of particulate matter that surrounded and enfolded the station. As we tentatively entered, our Navigator Primaris and the Astropath Darrius determined that the cloud was likely Xenos in origin. The Astropaths reported feeling a cold and alien mind at the heart of the cloud, which Darrius and Svenya theorized was some extremely dangerous species known as the Slaugth. The vox-contact we received from the still-occluded station, however, claimed merely an isolated navy station continuing their eternal watch against the return of the ancient Yu’vath. Of interest was the fact that this supposedly isolated and forgotten station knew the name of our ship as well as the name Aguirre, and that we were deemed… potential allies. They claimed to be low on personnel and offered a significant fee for additional headcount. Cousin Roland promised to go find them some people as a pretext to escape the cloud and depart.
We arrived at Port Echo to receive this Inquisitor half-concerned that his target was, precisely, Port Constance. He arrived with his entourage of five. While Inquisitor Hans Steendahl was, himself, most courteous and respectful of our Dynasty and Warrant, his courtesy did not extend to introducing his companions by name, although I was able to uncover their names from the servants shortly after they settled into their quarters, and I record them here: Lind D’rien of the immensely powerful noble House D’rien is Inquisitor Steendahl’s female escort upon this mission. The Inquisitor’s archivist was the scholar Archibald. A Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus who, I’m told, has strayed somewhat from the Omnissiah’s true way by dabbling in xeno-tech is named Linnaus. A hard-bitten storm-trooper of the Imperial Guard is named Argus. Finally, a black-clad man who, I shiver to speculate, belongs to one of the secretive Temples of the Officio Assassinorum is called Orb.
An hour after their arrival, the Inquisitor met Cousin Roland along with those Roland deemed trustworthy. This included myself, as well as Lady Soteris and his primary associates and retainers. Inquisitor Steendahl immediately made it clear that he wished passage on the Sovereign of the Void due to some… unique xeno-tech property the ship possesses. I was surprised to hear this from his lips, but was even more surprised to discover an utter LACK of surprise on the faces of anyone else in the room. Before I could formulate precisely how I might delicately inquire to be filled in, the Inquisitor turned the meeting over to Svenya who… revealed that he has been an agent of Inquisitor Steendahl upon this ship for the past fifteen years. Some potent xeno-artifact my father brought aboard necessitated Inquisitorial investigation and Svenya was the agent chosen.
The shock of this revelation was compounded by Svenya’s further briefing on his long-term mission. My father had, apparently discovered Svenya’s affiliation and the two engaged in mutually profitable work. My father profited in the cold trade with the benefit of the Inquisition’s blind eye while Svenya received detailed information on the details of that trade that he passed on to his master. It wasn’t until my father reneged on this arrangement that there came a power struggle for the future of the House. Svenya’s faction won, despite the Children of Thorns that Francesco let aboard. It was Svenya who cut my father’s throat, leaving him just alive enough to cut one final bargain. It was Svenya who killed my brothers and my nephews to ensure Roland’s succession to the Warrant. It was Svenya all along.
Apparently the value of this ship, and whatever this xeno-artifact has made it, was enough to guarantee the survival of House Aguirre when otherwise the Inquisition would long-ago have had reason to destroy it. Svenya cast his role as savior and preserver of the Dynasty against the evil of my father, yet that preservation was entirely for the self-interest of the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition.
I felt a great swell of affection for Cousin Roland at that meeting. I could see that something akin to my own conflict warred within his soul. Although Svenya’s duplicity brought about Roland’s own rise, I could see that his inherent honor rose in his gorge somewhat. He does not have the extensive training on etiquette I have received, and thus was unable to maintain a dignified silence while his soul was astir, but even the edge of bitterness to his voice in his response to this information did him credit, and he did not embarrass himself or the House. And to Inquisitor Steendahl’s credit, he made it clear that Svenya’s rank within the Inquisition was not a challenge or threat to Roland’s sovereign authority upon his ship and within his Dynasty. In fact, the Inquisitor took significant pains to reassure Cousin Roland, and the rest of us, that while House Aguirre owes its survival to him, he respects our autonomy and our worth as independent hands of the Emperor’s will.
The Inquisitor informed us that our ship is capable not only of warp travel, but also of entering the strange Eldar dimension known as the webway. He indicated that this made our ship almost unique, for the Eldar are terrified of ordinary warp-travel, relying entirely of their webway for transport. A faction of the dark subspecies of that race known as the Children of Thorns infected this ship with their xeno-tech as part of an experimental attempt to contact a lost colony within their webway, the passages and gates to which have been cut off. Without webway access, these dark aliens sought to subvert a ship of humanity to ride through the Empyrean and then on into the cut-off parts of the webway they sought. The Inquisitor informed us that he has the coordinates of a webway portal to this isolated outpost, and that he wished us to transport him there to ascertain what was so important about this isolated outpost of the Children that multiple factions within their dark city of Commorragh were expending so much time and so many resources to regain contact. There were other questions asked and answers given, but I must admit that Svenya’s revelations made it hard for me to concentrate on such alien matters. I left them to the others and quietly retired to my rooms to pray.
Svenya came to me. My… reaction to his presence was surprising to me. Intellectually I know he was but a tool of Steendahl when he slaughtered my family. Intellectually I know that what he did has immeasurably improved the prospects of my House and brought it from the brink of annihilation. But when I saw his face at my door I felt this great surge of betrayal, almost hatred. Here was the man whose hands drip red with my blood, a man who cut short the lives of my nephews before they ever had a chance to choose the light of the Emperor over their grandfather’s dark path. I think I could forgive him for my father, even for my brothers, but I look at Svenya and I see the man who would use children as food tasters, and I know that here is a man who has slain children.
The Emperor tests me, assuredly, and I will not disappoint. Svenya, no doubt, has a dedication to his master and his purpose that has long-since eclipsed any sense of personal morality and I must come to accept this. Until such a time as the Inquisition removes him from House Aguirre’s service, I must continue to work with him.
It won’t be easy.
Cipher Lock Disengaged
Personal Cipher Engaged
Subject: A Hellish Realm
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor’s Light Illuminates Dark Places”
We arrived at the Inquisitor’s coordinates, a planetary system of dead planets around a dying star. Svenya took me to the bowels of the Enginarium and showed me the device, a blasphemous black bone-like growth that has enveloped our warp drive. He called upon the Enginseer Prime to brief me on the device’s capabilities, a horror that left me numb. I understand, now, why Graylock has permanently wired herself into the ship. She claims her soul does battle with the alien device for the purity of the ship’s machine spirits. I have no reason to doubt her. The device itself can consume the soul of a crewman to repair damage to the ship, but at the cost of permitting it to grow like a cancer throughout the ship’s structure. My father, unsurprisingly, used this capability often, and the devices has infiltrated and replaced enough of the ship that it cannot be readily removed. The device’s primary function, however, appears to be to permit a Navigator to transport the ship into the Eldar’s proprietary dimension. This is what our Navigator Primaris did once we arrived.
It was a hellish, mind-bending landscape… an immense city of black bone, delicate spires reaching hundreds of kilometers into a space so immense that a dull red star pulsed at the heart of it providing light and power to the city.
Three sleek black ships engaged us in combat. Cousin Roland personally led our murder servitors on boarding actions utilizing our teleportarium while the Sovereign of the Void utilized its lasbatteries to good effect. Darrius revealed a surprising fluency with the language of the Children of Thorns and he, alongside the Inquisitor, convinced them that we serve one of their blasphemous sects. Upon demonstrating our strength, they permitted a parlay whereupon the Inquisitor, his retinue, Cousin Roland, and his own retinue went “ashore” to one of their awful spires.
I did not go with them. They all returned, although Svenya was sheeting blood from multiple puncture wounds on his back, legs, and arms. I can’t say any particular sympathy welled up in me. The Inquisitor claims that he learned what he came to learn, and I was pleased to see the end of that hellish place.
Cipher Lock Disengaged