The Licenian Crusade

Port Echo Politics
Port Echo

(600 + GE)
(All Players Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Port Echo Politics
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Scourge the Flesh, Release the Spirit”

It would appear that we are finally ready to depart this festering station, and not a moment too soon in my opinion. I am trained in political discourse, along with all attendant social niceties and subterfuges, but I know that there are some situations where engagement with the politics of a place can be a trap, like honey to insects, from which you may never escape.

I find no fault with my cousin for the actions he has taken thus far. I believe he has admirably walked a course of caution while still pursuing necessary matters of honor.

Upon returning from his dinner with Commodore Tyrian, Lord-Captain Roland planned to return to Port Echo and finalize his arrangements with Lord-Captain Finn and his mistress of commerce, a woman named Surma. This was to be our last act before departure. As soon as he and his loyal retainers set foot upon the station, however, a quagmire opened before their feet of treachery, betrayal, and dark secrets. It is fortunate indeed that he chose to take his young cousin Via, as well as her Ordo Militant battle sister bodyguard. I have spoken with Sister Bast and I find her an admirable daughter of the Emperor, devoted to protecting her young charge and being the living, visible embodiment of devotion to the Emperor. I’m sure her blessed bolter sang as it spat explosive shells into the flesh of those who ambushed my cousin’s entourage in some seedy marketplace. Apparently the enemy had a combat servitor and cried out in the name of the Flamel dynasty before engaging, cries that even in the midst of battle, my cousin found suspect. It would appear that between our Master of Arms and our Battle Sister, the battle proved an insufficient threat. The arrival of the Mistress of Commerce and some of Lord-Captain Finn’s security effectively ended the battle.

After hearing initial reports of this battle, it seemed to me that the underlying purpose of this attack was not to kill my cousin, but rather to convince him that the Flamel dynasty wanted to kill him. Subsequent investigations by Uncle Svenya bore this out. He rallied the dregs of a particularly seedy establishment to turn the tables on the broker who arranged the ambush. The man received the soul-purifying mortification of the flesh and opted to confess his sins. He was hired by Reynard.

I have gotten somewhat ahead of myself. The highest ranking member of the Ecclesiarchy on this pit of a station is Mother Superior Katalina of the Abbey of St. Elana the Unshaken. After the assault on my cousin, word of the deeds of Sister Bast rapidly reached the Mother Superior, doubtless because no other Battle Sister of the Adeptus Sororitas would sully themselves by setting foot there, and so this was a rarity. She came to the Sovereign of the Void to speak with young Via, and revealed herself to be an inveterate gossip. Via proved a charming conversationalist and dragged from the old gossip the surprising news that there is already a long-established Aguirre presence here on the station led by one of my father’s old seneschals some twenty years ago. Subsequent investigations revealed the shocking truth that this fellow, Reynard, was entrusted with the means to contact the dark Xenos with whom my father bargained, and engaged actively in the cold trade out of Port Echo for a score of years. In fact, Reynard is the financial backing behind the infamous Mr. Li.

Doubtless this Reynard caught wind that his former lord was no more and that the dynasty was now in the hands of a pious man. It is my suspicion that Reynard sought to distract Lord-Captain Roland into a punishing war against the Flamel Dynasty to distract Roland from his own nefarious little empire. By the time we discovered all of this, however, Uncle Svenya had already consulted with Lord-Captain Finn and made it clear that Finn should purge Mr. Li and his backers from the station. My cousin decided that the best course would be to let the Lord-Captain get to work and clean up this artifact of my father’s regime, as we do not have the resources to root him from his heavily fortified and (if rumor be true) Xenos-guarded lair.

Speaking of foul Xenos artifacts, it would appear that Flamel is selling nigh-unique artifacts recovered from the Wraith worlds. They appear to be crude clay statues of vaguely humanoid, featureless fat women seated cross-legged. If in the presences of the psychically sensitive, however, the objects appear to be utterly void… unless, apparently, a Navigator should peer at one with their warp eye, in which case it inflicts some manner of trauma I do not entirely understand. Young Via seemed especially interested in these artifacts and convinced Svenya to look into them. It would appear that not only is Flamel selling these things for exorbitant profit, but that Flamel’s seneschal, Orion, was seen speaking with Mr. Li. Who can say to what purpose.

These investigations did lead, however, to the procurement of rare and detailed survey maps of quite a great many worlds of the Licenian subsector developed by Explorator Fleet Kappa Seven eight hundred years ago. This has placed into our hands better information about the subsector than, I suspect, any of our potential rivals, even though it be eight centuries out of date. This is a prize indeed, and I must admit I didn’t expect such a thing to come from Master of Arms Stihr Mandis. The man has all the charm of a ceramite block. Apparently he has surprising resources on this very ship and managed an audience with a member of the Adeptus Mechanicus I didn’t even know lived aboard this vessel. Magos Galenus is apparently so important within the machine cult that his duties are nominal and he may devote all his time to pure research. The Mechanicus guard his privacy jealously.

My cousin now must weigh the benefits of selling to Flamel better information on the Wraith Worlds than she currently possesses, or whether to use this data to undermine her. He also now has detailed survey records of a great many worlds. Which to approach first?

This musing has gone on for some time, but I feel it necessary to record what we’ve learned of the “society” that exists in the subsector. Apparently there is a “Regent” who rules in the name of the Emperor from the world of Licenia, where the miniature astronomican can be seen by Navigators even so far as Port Echo. This Regent utilizes this beacon to permit limited warp travel notwithstanding the recently-abated storms, and we know he collects tribute from the miners of the Wraith Worlds. Opposing the Regent is an individual known as the “Consul” who apparently leads a significant rebel force in guerilla operations against the Regent’s regime. No word yet of what became of the forces of the Licenian Crusade.

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Port Echo Investigation
Port Echo

(500 + GE)
(Julie, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Port Echo
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “A Prayer in Darkness is Worth Ten Suns”

These past two days berthed to Port Echo have left me to look after the Sovereign of the Void while my cousin and a handful of his senior retainers have engaged in the apparently complex dealings with Lord-Captain Finn of the Imperial Navy. I narrate this to my autoquill as they now have dinner with Commodore Tyrian aboard his flagship, the Grand Cruiser “Malignant.” I have quite a lot of information to digest courtesy of Uncle Svenya.

I may have to re-evaluate my opinion of the man. For all his loyalty to my father and complicity in my father’s crimes, he is clearly a complex man of complicated motivations. Edmund Garby, the Master of Whispers, confided in me before he departed the ship for Port Echo that despite being integral to my father’s Cold Trade endeavors, Svenya was actively trying to discourage him from continuing that practice. The other whispers from Garby and my own agents aboard the ship result in deeply mixed messages. On the one hand, Svenya and my father seemed genuinely close. On the other hand, the confusing events of the mutiny and Xenos invasion on my father’s last voyage lead me to wonder whether Svenya left him to die while securing uncorrupted vital resources.

Something to continue to consider as more data comes to light. Either way, Svenya gave me a lengthy report of the political situation here at Port Echo which I will try to digest through the process of putting thoughts to paper.

First of all, there is Task Force Litany of the Imperial Navy led by Commodore Tyrian. The Task Force has surrounded Port Echo with the stated aim of monitoring all traffic to and from the newly opened Licenian subsector. The task force consists of the Malignant and a good dozen ships of the line, so is a significant investment of naval power.

Then there’s Port Echo itself. It is nominally a naval resupply station, but in the last seven hundred years it has been a backwater with little utility. It would seem that the only reason the Navy hasn’t decommissioned it is because of semi-frequent yet minor Xenos attacks that warrant a trickle of Naval funding. Lord-Captain Finn, who commands the station, is more than two-hundred years old, and immobile within his elaborate life-support mechanisms. He has run Port Echo like a smuggler’s den for all that time, becoming immensely wealthy in the process. Furthermore, there is some evidence that the Xenos attacks are feints, orchestrated by Finn himself to justify to his continued role to his superiors. Either way, seven centuries of official neglect have allowed Finn to take full control of the station as, effectively, smuggler-lord of this whole region of space.

So the initial tension would appear to be between the Navy’s potential need for Port Echo as a naval base for future aggressions to or from the Licenian subsector and whether or not Finn can be trusted to prosecute those aims. Replacing Finn, at this point, would be immensely troublesome for the Navy, as he is deeply rooted, and Port Echo is a massive station filled with his loyal followers.

Beneath this larger tension there lie many smaller tensions. It would appear that Finn has given harbor to a renegade house of Navigators who have dabbled in forbidden genetic tampering. Why a non-warp-capable space station needs Navigators is an open question, although it would seem that Finn has a small fleet of warp-capable escort craft, many of which he sent into the Licenian subsector as soon as the storms subsided. It turns out that Finn, not Callista Flamel, was the first Imperial notable to send ships into the unknown. He sold data on the Wraith worlds to Flamel, permitting her to take credit for the discovery. He then sold data on Starbourne’s world to Darius Starbourne, who arrived in force with the apparent intention of conquering any errant branch of his family that may have survived in the Licenian subsector all this time. Finn also sent ships to Catechism and a world known as The Hedge, both ships have lost communication with Port Echo. My good cousin, Lord-Captain Roland de Carvajal, would appear to be leaning toward exploring Catechism as that keeps us far from our two major rival dynasties with interest in the area. His reasoning makes sense, especially considering the possibility that remnants of the Imperial Fleet of seven centuries ago may yet be found there.

Amidst all of this, it would seem that the rich and bustling underworld of Port Echo has seen in its Cold Trade markets not only mysterious Xenos artifacts brought back from the Wraith worlds by Callista Flamel, but also a new broker of dark and dangerous items which bear a distinctive resemblance to the equipment of the Xenos creatures who attacked the Sovereign of the Void on my father’s last voyage. This broker appeared on the station shortly after the storms subsided opening the subsector.

There are mysteries here. I suspect my cousin will want to pursue any leads that might shed more light on his predecessor’s demise, yet will also wish to navigate between his loyalty to his former naval contacts (and his personal sense of rightness) and the practicalities of dealing with a well-established pirate lord with access to vital information and supplies. I do not envy him the choices he is no doubt making at this very moment in conversation with Commodore Tyrian.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

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A New Dawn for Aguirre
Nido de Halcyon

(500 + GE)
(All Players Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Lord-Captain Roland de Carvajal y Corazon Aguirre
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor’s Hand is in the Smallest Detail”

I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from me. I should be in mourning, still, for the passing of my father, the Lord-Captain of the Aguirre Dynasty, but there has been no love there for many years. I do feel for my sisters in law, especially poor Mignonette who not only lost a husband but her two sons. I will not deny that the loss of the entire male line of the de Liire has been a blow not only to this House but also to the efforts of the Ordo Famulous. Mother Roan has put so much work into the proper marriages and breeding of this line in particular and now it would appear to be withering on the vine. I am less distraught. If there was ever any true potential in the de Liire bloodline it would not have fallen so far from the Light of the Emperor. The de Liire were brilliant, certainly, excellent specimens of humanity, but their souls lacked a certain fundamental quality, a certain moral center. I know that Mother Roan was hoping to rectify this problem in future generations, but it is perhaps best that the experiment conclude in favor of a parallel line.

The Carvajals have, of course, excellent breeding of their own. I have great hope for Roland. Military service seems to have suited him well. And that little cousin of his, Via… of the Oros line of all things… she has proven far more resilient than I thought when she rashly left the homeworld to pursue her “destiny.” It would seem that the hard realities of the galaxy have been instructive and have not broken her spirit. I spoke with her briefly about the Missionaria Galaxia as I believe her temperament well-suited to that sort of demanding service. Fortunately Cardinal Solaris agreed, and not only inducted her, but delegated three Acolytes of the Missionaria to instruct her along with a single Battle-Sister of the Adeptus Sororitas to act as bodyguard. I do hope young Via recognizes the honor and trust accorded her by this gesture.

And so it is that the Dynasty and the Sovereign of the Void have fallen into the hands of a pious man. I know little of the blasphemous acts that led to my father’s death, but I have no doubt his dabbling in the Cold Trade is what did him in. Frankly, I’m still surprised that Svenya kept his position. The little weasel lived in my father’s shadow for so long I would have assumed that the stains of my father’s sins would have long-since tainted him. Roland has permitted him to continue to serve, continue to lurk in the shadow of the Lord-Captain. I do not trust “Uncle” despite all the candy he tried to bribe me with in my youth before I left to take Holy Orders. Still, he appears to be serving Roland as well as he served Francesco, and one rumour at least credits Svenya’s quick action with the ultimate survival of the ship.

Our Choir-Master seems not unaffected by my father’s final folly. The poor man may not be fit for his position. I will have to keep an eye on him. His chosen intermediary, Darrius, seems like a good enough lad, albeit a bit naive. I suppose soul-bonding to the Emperor does not necessarily confer wisdom or experience, merely stability. Still, for all his wide-eyed provincialism, he is an Astropath, and such talents are rare indeed.

I am well-pleased by the new Navigators sent by House Soteris to fulfill our ancient contracts. I know the previous crop were an unsavory lot to say the least. It would appear that House Soteris is keen to demonstrate that not all Navigators of their House flirt with heresy. Our young Carto-Artifex, especially, has impressed me. Her protestations of faith are, perhaps, a bit too forced, as if she feels she has something to prove. Nevertheless, I do not think they are any less genuine for all that. Our new Navigator Primaris, Demetria Soteris, seems a cool, collected creature. There is strength in her, though… we made the voyage from Nido de Halcyon to Port Echo in a tiny fraction of the time it should have taken. I am still trying to make sense of the remarkable speed of our voyage, but the Immaterium is a strange place. We will see if she can repeat the feat.

Our Master of Arms, Steihr Mandis, is as stolid as his reputation. He is one of the few who served my father who have no real suspicion of lingering heretical taint. The man, frankly, doesn’t strike me as cunning or clever enough to have been involved in anything other than shooting or stabbing whomever my father told him to shoot or stab. For all that he lacks command-presence, it is undeniable that he is skilled in the trade of violence.

Well, I suppose I can note my impressions of the rest of the senior staff some other time. This entry has already stretched out longer than anticipated, and we should be coming alongside Port Echo soon. I will take the rest of my time to reflect on the funerals and the ascension of Roland.

The funerals were, as expected, full of solemnity. It was pleased and gratified that Cardinal Solaris himself chose to attend. I pulled every string I had to get the invitation to his personal attention. I can only say that he continues to impress me with his memory, as I had seriously wondered if my name would even ring the proper bells for him. It has been some years since my novice days. He was as polite as ever, although the years are weighing on him. Even the light gravity of the Carvajal moon seemed to pain his joints. Still, he made time for me and for young Via de Oros, and conducted the proper ceremonies with all the gravitas I have come to expect from him. The only thing that marred the ceremonies was the presence of that Inquisitor, Syrah Distaff. What a ridiculous name. She openly smirked throughout the proceedings as if actively trying to insult the family. While I recognize that my father and his sons were engaged in activities of questionable morality and loyalty to the Emperor, she could have at least shown some respect for the history of the Dynasty and those of us not tainted by my father’s corruption. I was moderately mollified to note that her smirk disappeared during the subsequent rites to elevate Roland to Master of the Dynasty. If I detected any particular emotion from her it was… curiosity.

The rest was about as you’d expect. The Lord-Sector sent his archivist. That preening witch Callista Flamel flaunted her wealth and success at us. House D’rian sent one of their third cousins, and every mercantile association with whom we’ve signed a contract sent a token representative. Frankly, I’m surprised everything went off with only a couple of deaths, none of them important. It seems the Cardinal’s Sororitas entourage had to forcefully discourage some of the thugs brought as bodyguards by the Tellurian Combine. Fortunately the Combine swept up their problem without bothering the new Lord-Captain or Svenya.

Roland held up well under hours of tedious ceremony and even more tedious small-talk, but I could tell he was anxious to get aboard the Sovereign and venture forth into the void. Frankly, for all my training in courtly affairs, breeding, politics, and related arts, I find the notion of sojourn amongst the stars delightful. Perhaps it was the sense of stagnation I’ve felt over the past twelve years trying to influence the my family away from the course they seemed so very intent upon to no visible effect. Hopefully my skills and watchful eye will prove more useful to Roland and his people than they were to the de Liire scions.

-Sister Minerva de Liire, Ordo Famulous

Personal Cipher disengaged

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