The Licenian Crusade

The Fall of the Regent
Licenia / Ichabarr

(700 + GE)
(+1 Fate Point)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: The Regent’s Fall
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor Moves in Small Ways and Large”

As we cruise through the alien dimension known as the “Webway” with our cargo of a bound Chaos godling, I wonder sometimes at the strange twists that life in a Rogue Trader dynasty takes.

No sooner had Inquisitor Steendahl removed the daemonice “Conceit” from the minds of Orison Calyx and Admiral Silas Starbourne then an Eldar flotilla arrived making the naval arrangements above the planet of Licenia even more convoluted. The Eldar seemed content to keep their distance, although Darrius, communicating with them from afar, determined that they were there to bombard Licenia should their prophesied doom come to pass.

This coincided with a telepathic plea for emergency help. The situation as it eventually emerged was this: Markov, Primarch of the Licenian Ordo Psykana, was besieged in the throne room of the Regent. Forces loyal to the Veiled Mask, including a majority of the planetary defense force, were besieging the castle while a potent chaos entity sought to manifest in this reality via the conduit that was the Regent’s mind. Admiral Starbourne was somewhat stymied, as he had no significant ground forces of his own. High Admiral Aldred had ground forces, but they would have to fight through Hive Primaris to get to the palace.

Darrius considered orbital bombardment of the entire hive to be an excellent way to ensure this godling did not emerge, but Cousin Roland, recognizing the rarity and potency of his teleportarium, volunteered to lead a small strike team to the throne room to attempt to render aid before that final solution should become necessary. They took a half-dozen of the Murder Servitors with them and entered the archaic device.

What followed Svenya informed me of after their return. They arrived to discover Markov and four of his psykers engaged in a ritual about the stasis-vault containing the half-seen form of the Regent. Soldiers were invading the room, firing at the psykers when Roland and his team arrived. Making a quick survey of the scene, they opted to repel the soldiers, at least for now. Navigator Primaris, Lady Soteris opened with a blast from her warp eye that dropped the majority of the soldiers only to discover that each of them were possessed by minor daemonlings, and the blood sacrifice of their deaths permitted a sort of half-real tangibility. Two assassins, presumably of the Veiled Mask’s organization also appeared, and Cousin Roland’s party had quite a fight on their hands.

Amidst the combat, they sought some communication with Markov as they realized that the chaos godling had essentially taken up residence in the Regent’s body, and that the stasis vault was failing. Markov communicated that he was attempting binding rituals to keep the godling trapped in the Regent’s flesh, but if he was interrupted, the entity would be unbound.

Cousin Roland’s party fought daemons and soldiers and assassins alike until Markov completed his ritual, at the expense of the lives and souls of his four psykers. The vault failed, and what emerged… well…

When I was an acolyte in the Schola Progenium I studied certain texts that I imagine the Sister Superior would have been horrified to know that I had so much as looked at. They were intended for advanced students on the path of the Battle Sister and spoke of matters daemonological. There are whispers of a type of bound daemon known as a “daemonhost”, a warp entity trapped in warded human flesh, tenuously bound to the will of the binder. This is what emerged, and it appeared to obey Markov docilely enough.

Markov then threw himself on the mercy of Cousin Roland, explaining that a chaos cult known as the Starry Order had deeply infiltrated the Veiled Mask’s secret police, as well as the High Marshall’s command structure. It is the goal of these cultists to release the godling bound into the Regent’s flesh, and he needed the use of Cousin Roland’s ship to get him and his bound monstrosity off the planet. Seeing no other alternative, Cousin Roland agreed, but not before Darrius communicated to me the need to have Cousin Via and Sister Bast meet them at the Teleportarium to keep the daemonic creature in line.

We eventually esconced the beast in a meditation cell in the Temple-Shrine, where the light of the Emperor could keep it at bay. Markov, along with the former Licenian Ecclesiarch and Cousin Via, stayed behind to monitor it. The situation on Licenia changed once word of the Regent’s fall and Markov’s defection became known. High Admiral Aldred started dropping Imperial Guard detachments to Hive Primaris while the Consul’s freedom fighters, borne with the Eldar fleet, and supported by the Consul’s “Praetorian” Space Marines, entered the fray (against Admiral Starbourne’s will). The fight was no longer about an invasion of the Regency as it was the recapturing of the Hive from chaos-worshiping rebels.

Inquisitor Syrah Distaff, aboard the ship of Rogue Trader Aric Corbin, emerged from behind Licenia’s moon to attempt to sway the High Admiral into taking a harder Imperial line. Cousin Roland spoke stirringly about the need for all the children of Licenia to join together to bring peace in the name of the Emperor. Eventually the Inquisitor came over to the Sovereign of the Void to parlay with Inquisitor Steendahl and Cousin Roland. Both Inquisitors agreed on a need to return to Ichabarr to report to the Inquisition all of the events in the subsector, and Inquisitor Steendahl offered Cousin Roland the option to transport them. Unspoken was the assumption that Cousin Roland had a transaction to finalize regarding the value of the planet Neumos, as well as the assumption that the Ordo Malleus back on Ichabarr might be able to handle this daemonhost, the existence of which was not made known to Distaff.

Roland acquiesced, but recognized that transporting a daemonhost through the warp was a potentially disastrous move if the gellar field should fail, and so he, the Lady Soteris, and the Inquisitor Steendahl hit on a plan to utilize the Sovereign of the Void’s unique properties to navigate the Eldar webway. They invited a diplomat to visit from the Eldar fleet, who offered to take the daemonhost off our hands. After some consideration, Roland declined, but did get the cooperation of the Eldar in aiding Lady Soteris in navigating their esoteric dimension.

And so we have. We have just left the nexus of Craftworld Aletheia, and we are in the hands of Lady Soteris as she navigates this confusing network of quasi-real tunnels. It is my prayer that soon this daemonhost will be off our ship.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Cipher Lock Engaged

Supplemental Entry:

We have arrived at an Inquisition fortress-station in the Ichabarr system. Cousin Roland and an Inquisitor Valenti, with a contingent of Gray Knights, have taken Markov and the daemonhost off our hands. I am informed as a preliminary matter that Roland has negotiated a sum for Neumos and all it’s related properties (including the 117 refugee Tech Priests) that is, frankly, staggering. We could buy a new ship or two with that sort of payout. I trust Cousin Roland may shortly put this cursed vessel aside for one more… wholesome.

Cipher Lock Disengaged.

View
The Skies of Licenia
Craftworld Aletheia / Licenia

(600 + GE)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Alien Minds
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Even When an Eldar Speaks Truth, it Lies”

The quote above was one I overheard, once, in the cloister before taking my final vows and entering the sector as a Sister Famulous of the Adepta Sororitas. The speaker was an experienced Sister who had worked often as an Imperial Diplomat speaking in a rare unguarded moment. When later I got up the nerve to ask her what she meant she said, merely, that every word that comes from the lips of an Eldar, whether truth or falsehood, was calculated to bring about some effect, and that these calculations were often inscrutable to us. The quote came again to mind as the Sovereign of the Void arrived at the coordinates for Craftworld Aletheia.

The immensity of an Eldar Craftworld truly cannot be expressed in words. It appeared, at first, as an immense, graceful, somewhat organic looking ship, perhaps the size of an Imperial cruiser, until one made sense of the auspex data and realized that size, in space, can be an illusion. The tiny specks barely visible against its flanks were, more truly, the cruiser-class vessels of the Aletheian fleet. One is used to seeing planets from space. One is not used to seeing something the size of a planet that looks so much like a spacefaring vessel. We made contact and they spoke in a delightfully archaic dialect of High Gothic. They seemed wary of our presence, but even at that vast distance could sense the “taint of madness” we brought with us. Cousin Roland with exquisitely politic in presenting the mad minds we had come to deliver couching in terms of returning fallen souls to their final rest.

While I maintained our alert status on the bridge, Cousin Roland and his retainers went to greet one “Zia of the Thousand Stars,” some sort of Eldar diplomat. She received the black gem that Astropath Darrius had removed from Neumos. He emerged from the landing craft in which he had voluntarily secured himself for the entirety of our voyage somewhat haggard, but having shown remarkable fortitude. Even this Zia seemed impressed that he had personally safeguarded such corruption for so long. She rapidly returned to her ship, asking us to remain for a moment.

Some hours later Cousin Roland received a surprise invitation from the Lord of the Craftworld himself, one “Farseer Alros Uxor,” something that Zia seemed to think was a great rarity and honor. Cousin Roland and his usual advisors, along with Inquisitor Steendahl and his female companion, took a craft over to the immensity that was the Craftworld for a private discussion.

I was not, of course, privy to what this ancient alien had to say to my Cousin, but when they returned, Astropath Darrius and our Navigator Primaris spread out the star charts, poring over them. Apparently this Eldar had given them some motive to visit a distant world near to the dangerous Birth Stars known on our charts as the Throne of the Sky Father. More immediately, however, he had delivered some news by way of the Consul and his rebel faction that High Admiral Aldred of Battlefleet Ixaniad, along with the former Regency fleet under Admiral Silas Starbourne, had invested the planet of Licenia and begun a siege to bring it, and by extension the rest of the Regency, formally within the Pax Imperialis.

After some discussion, Cousin Roland decided to take the journey to Licenia so as to be present as great events unfolded. The warp voyage was, however, plagued by an odd sort of madness, a sense of temporal displacement gripped all aboard the vessel making them feel as if they had experienced every moment, every hour, dozens, hundreds of times before. I felt that I had relived the same day so often that it threatened to pull at my sanity. Fortunately my faith in the Emperor saw me through, and when we emerged it would seem that, in actuality, we had lost hardly any time at all.

We arrived in the midst of a vast naval engagement however. Some elements of Silas Starbourne’s Regency fleet were apparently rebelling against the Imperial elements of the fleet. Although vastly outgunned, they were putting up a good fight. The nova cannons of the Battleship “Cataclysm” had apparently destroyed a significant chunk of Licenia’s moon, which our sensors indicated once had extensive shipyards and other facilities, and other wreckage and violence was ongoing. We hovered at the edge of the battle, the bridge crew doing all within their power to make sense of the situation. Ultimately they ascertained that something had incapacitated Admiral Starbourne and Lord-Patriarch Orison Calyx, and panicked Captains, some of whom were not all that excited about an “invader fleet” orbiting their homeworld, had decided to fight an impromptu rebellion.

Additional investigation, as well as Cousin Roland’s ability to command military-minded people and get obedience regardless of whether they should, in actuality, obey him, revealed even more disturbing details. Apparently Admiral Starbourne and Patriarch Calyx, as well as some few others in the Regency fleet, suddenly collapsed, and through every door or portal in proximity to them, warp-spawned entities coalesced and attacked. As the Admiral’s men defended him from the horrors, they attempted to drag him to safety only to discover demons attacking through every door they passed. Ultimately some bright-light of a junior officer thought to put the Admiral in one of their specialized brig cells which has a sealing wall rather than a door. As for the Patriarch, he was being guarded by his own.

With his usual decisive air, Cousin Roland and his entourage decided to fly a boarding craft through the midst of a running space battle so as to board Admiral Starbourne’s ship, the “Cerulean Sea,” and attempt to render aid. Just to be safe, they brought along Inquisitor Steendahl’s lady-companion and a half-dozen murder-servitors. I, as usual, awaited word aboard the ship. I was impressed, despite myself, with the piloting skills of Svenya. I hadn’t known he could pilot a shuttle with quite such… dexterity. Whatever my feelings for him, he got Cousin Roland to the “Cerulean Sea” safely.

Some time later, Admiral Starbourne’s voice was once more heard over the vox systems taking control of his errant fleet with a mix of threats and sheer command presence. I admit being somewhat impressed by how rapidly he cowed the mutinous officers and brought order to the chaos.

In the midst of this, Astropath Darrius contacted me in my mind with a rather unusual request. He wanted me to inquire of our Tech Priesthood whether they had a means by which to selectively edit a man’s memories. In the course of relaying this request via the vox system, Inquisitor Steendahl, who was on the bridge keeping an eye on the battle, overheard. He volunteered that the Inquisition has… extensive methods of mind-cleansing individuals, and that he could put these techniques at Cousin Roland’s service should it resolve the conflict. After some further discussion, it came out that somehow some daemonic mental “puzzle” was planted in the Admiral’s mind, and so long as he retained knowledge of it, these daemonic entities would hunt him through every door. Only by forgetting this… thought? idea? could the incursions be stopped. Inquisitor Steendahl gathered the rest of his companions and took another boarding craft through thankfully much calmer space. Apparently whatever techniques he brought to bear was able to remove this dangerous idea from the minds of Admiral Starbourne and Patriarch Calyx, although what lasting effects his methods, or this daemonic experience, will have upon both gentlemen remains to be seen.

I stayed and monitored the fleets as they regrouped and repositioned above Licenia. Once all seemed calm once more I left the bridge in the hands of Cousin Via and retired to get some food and record my thoughts. Cousin Roland and his people remain on the “Cerulean Sea” and I trust they will lend what aid they can to reintegrating the fleets.

I wonder who was responsible for planting this daemonic thought in the minds of these two former members of the Regency Council. The obvious answer would be this “Ordo Psykana” leader Markov. If, in fact, the leader of those whose task it is to defend the Regent from daemonic incursion make use of daemons themselves, we may all be in the most dire peril. I will pray to the Emperor to watch over his children in the days and nights ahead.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

View
The Cradle of Man
Neumos

(700)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Secrets of the Ancients
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor Embraces All Mystery”

By the sixth day after Cousin Roland and his entourage disappeared into the ruins of Neumos, I began to seriously grow concerned. Even one trained to patience and decorum such as myself can grow anxious when the last hale, adult heir of my dynasty vanishes for extended periods of time. When he emerged once more, I was sufficiently relieved that I even forgot to seethe on Svenya’s deeds when he came to my chambers, as if nothing had changed between us, to tell me all of what had occurred in that mysterious place.

To back up somewhat, after concluding Inquisitor Steendahl’s errand, he and his entourage retired to their quarters, apparently in no great hurry to return to Port Echo. Lord Captain Roland, not overly concerned with getting the Inquisitor off his ship, finally ordered a course be set for the planet known to the ancient Licenians as the “Birth World,” or “Neumos…” a world that had piqued my cousin’s interest ever since he read the scanty intelligence on that world gathered by Explorator Fleet Kappa Seven some seven centuries ago. Our Navigator Primaris, with her usual puissance, pulled us flawlessly through the Immaterium in record time, although many reported disquieting dreams and waking fears for the day our voyage took. We emerged from the warp near the planet, the only one orbiting its yellow star, and the single cold, dead moon that circles it. Our Master of Etherics once more showed his skill, and we were all shortly poring over the data scrolling across the hololithic displays. The planet was clearly a feral one, covered in vast plains, forests, and oceans. Our instruments detected small patterns of minor fires denoting primitive tribes in the vast plains. The only thing of particular note about Neumos itself were the vast, subcontinent-sized city ruins that could be observed readily even from our great distance through the crystalline viewports.

Of more immediate interest was the thrum and fires of a plasma fusion reactor powering a base upon Neumos’s moon. The moon, it would appear, was tidally-locked. The base was built upon the face of the moon that would never see the planet below. Despite giving every indication of being fully powered, with active life-sustainer systems, the base did not attempt to hail us, and no response came from our own attempts at communication. Cousin Roland took his retainers and some void suits and made a visit to the moon.

It wasn’t long before the Navigator Primaris, Lady Soteris returned alone. She informed me that the base was built by the Tech Priesthood of Mars, apparently the very group detached from that long-ago Explorator Fleet. The base, however, was empty, with only a… disturbingly advanced cogitator system with a disturbingly self-aware machine spirit left in charge. This machine-spirit had indicated that it had been 572.28 years since all the Tech-Priests of the base had gone forth to the planet on a survey mission and never returned. While Cousin Roland grappled with the ethical questions surrounding this machine spirit, as well as the rather extensive records held in the base, Lady Soteris and I engaged in discovering where the Mechanicus landing vehicles were upon the planet. We located them in a trio of landing sites within a single one of the immense city ruins. They appeared to be intact, at least insofar as our auspex scanners could determine. We entered a suitable orbit and Lady Soteris utilized the unique gifts of her bloodline to gaze upon the planet below. She reported that at all three sites there was iconography, that of a stylized male figure with a featureless face, right arm extended with palm showing in a gesture of forbiddance. Lady Soteris asked my opinion of the matter, and something about the figure, which she was kind enough to draw a likeness of for me, reminded me of religious iconography from certain mystery cults, symbols intended to ward the inquisitive from that which they should not know.

Eventually, Cousin Roland resolved matters aboard the moon base. He moved some hundreds of our crew to man the station, and particularly its macro-battery guns, while emptying the base of all technology of value, including many cogitator stacks full of Mechanicus data. The plan, as I understood it, was to sell the data back to the Mechanicus, and claim right of salvage over the base. Although it was a worthy and no doubt valuable find, Lord Captain Roland decided that Neumos represented a great mystery. It had swallowed 117 adepts of the Adeptus Mechanicus without a trace, and as my good cousin is nothing if not daring in his pursuit of knowledge and wealth, he determined to go to the surface and see if he could discover what had become of them.

Cousin Roland and his trusted retainers and some bodyguards first determined to speak to the primitive tribes-people and see what their legends might tell of the ruins. I am given to believe that Sister Via de Oros comported herself most marvelously in this, her first real opportunity to bring the light of the Emperor to a benighted people. Aided by the Astropath Darrius, she was able to surmount the barrier of language and draw parallels between their own primitive worship of the sun and the earth with the golden light of the Emperor, the “Sky Father.” There was briefly some difficulty, as the natives associate the concept of “emperor” with a dark, evil figure, a machine-god of sorts, an unnatural being responsible for the cursed city ruins. This impression was not dispelled by the fact that Cousin Via’s party arrived in a flying machine and bore technologically advanced weapons. She managed to smooth over that misunderstanding, however, and soon had the natives ready and willing to hear the word of the great Sky Father, the Lord of the Sun.

In return, of course, they related their own legendry which, much distilled, seems to allude to the rise of a once-great civilization which collapsed catastrophically. Most of the population of the massive hive-cities fled in great starships (giving credence to the ancient legends unearthed by Arch-Missionary Vargas Lin that this world was the origin-point for the ancient Licenians). The rest fled to the rural areas, where their descendants eke out a primitive life as nomadic herders of beasts, fearing the ruins with a superstitious dread that, one would think, would have died out long ago if the ruins were truly as ancient as the Adeptus Mechanicus records seemed to indicate. It would appear that the spiritual leaders of the tribes, the shamans and shamanesses, would engage in a dangerous “spirit quest” which involved entering the cities to specific sacred locales where they would commune on the ancient stories, maintained through exacting mnemonic processes, and would receive vision-communication from the “Iron Emperor” who would tempt them with power and rulership. Those who had the willpower to refuse the dark god’s power would return to their tribes as shamans. Those who did not would never be heard from again.

Having learned what they could from the primitives, Cousin Roland and his retainers visited in turn the three sites where the long-missing Mechanicus had landed. Their shuttles were still intact and somewhat functional. Their equipment was less so. Of the Mechanicus there was no sign. The Astropath Darrius, emulating the savage shamans, sought to commune with the mysterious blank-faced statues they found. Battle-Sister Bast noticed a faint dark smoke issue from the outstretched hand of the statue, as Darrius felt a tingling across his body. Acting swiftly, Cousin Via called upon the light of the Emperor to banish all dark powers, scouring the black smoke from the room, and shutting down the statue which, Lady Soteris reported, seemed to be constructed with psychically-active materials. It would appear that there was something to the primitives’ stories.

Cousin Roland’s party ascertained that these temple sites contained ancient technology that utilized psychic power, a blasphemy in the eyes of the Cult Mechanicus, but the sort of thing the Tech Priesthood was ill-equipped to recognize on their own. Astropath Darrius reached forth his own senses in an attempt to reverse the process and contact whomever was on the other side of the statue-machines. What he discovered shocked him. Apparently the entire planet contained an intricate matrix of psychically-active material. Apparently the planet itself was somehow alive. Not only was it alive, but it was quite insane, and desperate to be… healed? repaired? Whatever it was, and whatever had built it, it had effectively kidnapped the Tech Priests of five hundred years ago and now it dearly desired for Darrius to descend beneath the ruins and finish the repairs.

Unsurprisingly, Cousin Roland opted to descend beneath the statue into the depths of the planet where our ship’s auspex scanners could not penetrate, nor any communication signal. That is when my long wait began.

Svenya has just finished telling me of what they found in their long sojourn beneath the surface of Neumos. I find the tale hard to countenance, but I know that Svenya, for all his crimes, has no cause to invent fantasies. It would appear that Neumos is an artificial planet, a world constructed by ancient human hands from the Dark Age of Technology, from an era before the coming of the Emperor, an era so lost to the darkness of history that we cannot even conceive of the powers our distant ancestors wielded. It would seem that Neumos was constructed to be some sort of refuge or paradise, a world psychically connected to all its inhabitants, a world that preserved all the knowledge, memories, pain and love of every person to walk its surface. It served this function adequately until xenos refugees from some great catastrophe, Eldar, apparently, who fled there as their worlds fell to Chaos at the beginning of the Age of Strife, arrived and were welcomed. The integration of alien minds into the immense psychic mechanism that was the planet introduced a tiny flaw, a burr, a thorn, the wormed its way deeper into the planet, growing, until the great Mind that was the world itself fractured.

It would appear that Cousin Roland’s party, led by the Astropath Darrius, were able to somehow heal the world, to extract that thorn. Darrius himself has been locked in the landing craft that returned him to the ship, not to emerge under pain of execution, until the Sovereign of the Void arrives at Craftworld Aletheia, where he hopes to hand over the… minds? souls? of the xenos they somehow extracted. I find the whole notion somewhat fantastical. I tend to agree with Cousin Via that whatever dark madness was pulled from Neumos should be blasted into the nearest star and done with, but Cousin Roland points out that we may have cause to continue dealings with the Xenos of Aletheia, they who protect this mysterious Regent of the Licenian “Republic.”

To be honest, I find the concept of an artificially created planet to be unbelievable enough. A planet-sized machine that bonds with its populace, preserving their minds for eternity is something that strikes at my very soul. That such an ancient machine should predate the Emperor’s coming, his Great Crusade, and all the ages of mankind that have come since is a third impossibility. That we now possess the souls of Eldar from the days of their distant fall is just one more thing in a cavalcade of matters that I will need to pray long and deeply upon.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

View
Ordo Xenos
Port Constance / Commorragh Outpost

(700 + GE)
(All Present)

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

View
Dynastic Rewards
Port Echo / The Hedge

(700) (+1 Fate Point)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: A House Reunited
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Fortune Favors the Righteous”

Dinner negotiations with Lady-Captain Evelyn Lin went swimmingly. Cousin Roland was in top form in charm and grace and rapidly elicited from our guest confirmation that Darius Starbourne was her guest about the Star Heron. It would appear that the Starbourne Dynasty is in significant debt to the Lin Dynasty for monetary and logistical aid in the former’s botched attack on Starbourne’s World and that the Lady-Captain wants to make sure she recoups those losses.

Cousin Roland gave his assurances that he would personally give his word of protection over Darius so that he could come with us and attend negotiations with his long-estranged relative Nicolas to reunify their fractured dynasty. Lady-Captain Lin delegated her ship the Firestorm to convey Darius to Port Echo along with Lady-Captain Lin’s own representative.

During dinner, our Navigator Primaris had her own private dinner with other Houses of the Navis Nobilite serving the Lin dynasty as well as our passenger Robar Calyx. I am not privy to the inner workings of the secretive Navigator Houses, but I got the subsequent impression that House Calyx, whose own estranged branches serve both sides of this conflict, decided to push strongly for the Starbourne reunification.

We arrived at Port Echo to discover a significant battle-group of Battlefleet Ixaniad present, along with the Imperial Battleship “Cataclysm,” flagship of High Admiral Aldred. Apparently the Licenian High Admiral Silas Starbourne was already aboard the Cataclysm and engaged in ongoing negotiations. Cousin Roland set up his own negotiations on Port Echo, bringing Darius and Nicolas together. House Aguirre and its retainers went all-out in working for the success of these negotiations, and eventually, after a mere two days, all the details were hashed out. Nicolas would retain the Warrant as Lord-Captain of the Dynasty, and Darius would become his Seneschal, and perhaps subserviant Lord-Captain of one of the Dynasty’s remaining ships. Darius would lend his knowledge of the Dynasty’s commercial empire and Nicolas would lend his legitimacy and military honor. The reunified Starbourne Dynasty made their appreciation for Aguirre’s aid clear in the form of favorable trade contracts and other intangibles which can only improve our own position in the long term.

As part of the signing and sealing of this agreement, both Starbournes asked our Astropath, confusingly also named Darrius, to enter their minds to assure that no intentions of duplicity were present. I don’t think they understood just how much of themselves they would be revealing. In the course of reading Nicolas Starbourne’s mind, Darrius discovered that the Licenian Regency has, for all seven hundred years of its existence, fought a defensive war against successive waves of twisted chaos mutant raiders. These mutants, apparently the sad victims of the warp storms that swallowed a legion of Imperial Guardsmen, come from a world orbiting “Sabine’s Star,” a location to Rimward of the core Licenian worlds at the edge of the region of space known as the Birth Stars. It would appear that the “threat from the birth stars” that we have been told of in somewhat mystical terms is an actual, physical, military threat in addition to a spiritual threat to the person of the Regent. This explains why an isolated polity felt the need to have a significant standing navy.

Nicolas Starbourne renounced his commission with the Regency Navy immediately, and stayed on Port Echo to establish his control of Starbourne resources on that station while Darius returned to the Firestorm. Cousin Roland dropped by the Cataclysm to determine the state of military negotiations where he discovered that Silas Starbourne’s bargain to become Imperial Admiral of the Licenian subsector was essentially a done deal, and the extended discussions were mostly about tactical logistics going forward. Seeing that all seemed to be going according to our desires, we prepared to return once more to the Hedge to fulfill a promise to aid Lady-Captain Lin in her efforts to recover the Grand Cruiser hulk from the surface of the planet.

The Sovereign of the Void was the largest ship present, but it appears that the Lady-Captain had procured a dozen archaeotech graviton grapnels and an equal number of cargo-hauler ships to mount them in. With the Sovereign of the Void as the backbone, her small fleet, aided by the active plasma drives on the hulk itself, managed to drag it into stable orbit around the Hedge. We discovered the name of the vessel, the “Angevin’s Fire,” a Grand Cruiser owned and operated by the distant ancestor of Lady-Captain Lin in Angevin’s Crusade. It would seem that in the aftermath of that glorious time, this ancestor abdicated his Warrant to his daughter and took the Angevin’s Fire on an extended pilgrimage. This ancestor, Vargas Lin, ultimately became an Arch-Missionary of the Ordo Missionaria Galaxia, the same Vargas Lin who founded the University of the Imperial Creed on Tria. He and his ship apparently came to rest on the Hedge under circumstances mysterious.

Cousin Via, realizing this connection to her own Order, made a request for any data that might have survived two thousand years on the planet’s surface, hoping that the fate of this famed member of the Missionaria might be determined, but also that his travels and research on the native Licenian religion and culture might be ascertained. A session of bargaining ensued, and Lady-Captain Lin provided the data. It was fragmentary and corrupted, but the three Missionaries aboard the Sovereign eventually deciphered enough to make the planet of Neumos an attractive next step in our explorations of the Licenian subsector. Apparently Neumos held a prominent place in the ancient religion of the Licenian Republic as the “birth world” of that civilization, and upon an ancient cataclysm and the death of their “Emperor” they fled to settle the Licenian core world. All of this was steeped in ancient heretical beliefs, of course, but even in heresy might lie seeds of potential profit.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

View
Negotiation and Obligation
Port Echo / The Webway

(700)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Complex Military Negotiation
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor speaks through truthful tongues”

We arrived in the vicinity of Port Echo, outside of macrobattery range thanks to the skill of our Navigators, whereupon Cousin Roland entered into initial negotiations with High Admiral Silas Starbourne of the Licenian Regency. Our speculations as to his intention to defect to the Imperium were not dashed as he invited Cousin Roland and an entourage to dine with him aboard his flagship.

We arrived, bringing with us the “Ecclesiarch” of the Licenian Regency, our passenger, as well as Robar Calyx, similarly associated with that regime. The High Admiral met us with all due formality, making it clear in his greetings and speech that he considered Roland to a “cousin” Rogue Trader, notwithstanding his own high military rank. With him was another member of the Regency Council, Orison Calyx, the Patriarch of that house, a number of flag officers, and finally Lady-Captain Surma of Port Echo.

I sat beside Cousin Roland, prepared to offer my subtle aid should it prove necessary. It didn’t. Roland was in excellent form, having recovered somewhat from his unfortunate daemonic encounters. Roland explained that the attack by Darrius Starbourne was not an official act of the Imperium, but rather the attempt by a misguided Rogue Trader to accomplish long-held ambitions. He furthermore indicated that he, Roland, on behalf of the Imperium, and empowered by Commodore Tyrian, was there to negotiate terms of reintegration with the Imperium.

I noted this subject caused some consternation among some of the flag officers. The conversation wended its way around this subject with a certain amount of politesse before, at the conclusion of the sorbet that started the dinner, four of Starbourne’s flag officers choked and keeled over dead, apparently by poison. At this point, the High Admiral spoke plainly. He told Cousin Roland that it was his intention to join the Imperium, bringing the loyal elements of his navy with him, provided he could be assured of the rank of Admiral of the Licenian Subsector within the overall Naval hierarchy. He furthermore indicated that he planned on passing off his Warrant of Trade to his eldest son to continue to the Starbourne Rogue Trader Dynasty while he personally served the Imperial Navy in his new capacity. He indicated that he and Patriarch Calyx were of one mind on this matter, and that it was also his belief that the head of the Regency’s Adeptus Mechanicus also favored re-integration. He outlined the political obstacles, namely the Regency’s Ordo Psykana, whose entire power base relied upon the continued existence of the Regent and the beacon he represents. The Veiled Mask, who leads the Regency’s secret police and propaganda arm, would likely also resist, as would the majority of the planetary defense forces under the command of the High Marshall.

The High Admiral did not sugar-coat the obstacles ahead, but indicated that Cousin Roland should take his offer to the Commodore and higher up the chain of command as necessary while he continued to “protect” Port Echo.

The conversation went on rather longer than that, of course, but those were the salient highlights. After returning to the Sovereign of the Void, Cousin Roland, his senior retainers, and I discussed matters. I offered my extensive connections in Sector government, the nobility, and the Administratum to spread rumors of High Admiral Starbourne’s capability and military might, as well as willingness to bring it all under High Admiral Aldred’s command with the notion that these rumors would reach Aldred and prepare him to receive such a proposition favorably. Cousin Roland accepted my offer and I worked with the Astropathic choir to send a number of messages to this effect, as well as to my contacts within the Ecclesiarchy on behalf of the Licenian “Ecclesiarch” who is aiming for the title of Cardinal within the greater church.

Cousin Roland decided that it would be more politic to bring this offer to Commodore Tyrian and permit him to bring the matter to High Admiral Aldred, thus saving face and permitting him to turn his apparent defeat into a victory. This excellent idea, coupled with Roland’s silver tongue, made the Commodore deeply indebted to House Aguirre, promising extensive resources should Cousin Roland need them. He sent a return message for Starbourne, and we returned to Port Echo to deliver the Commodore’s provisional acceptance while we awaited his own report to Aldred.

We spent a day or two at Port Echo whereupon Uncle Svenya discovered that multiple factions were scouring the station for the elusive Darius Starbourne, who had failed so spectacularly to bring the Licenian branch of his House under his control. Despite these searches, nobody had yet uncovered any evidence that he had returned to the station. Lord-Captain Lazar Starling, however, once again demonstrated his… quite unusually effective sources of information and offered to reveal to Svenya the location where Darius Starbourne was hiding in exchange for House Aguirre’s intercession with High Admiral Starbourne to permit ships of the Starling Dynasty through the blockade, granting effectively a monopoly in the import of badly needed supplies. This Lord Captain Roland did, convincing High Admiral Silas Starbourne on the basis of Port Echo’s need, not mentioning the lead on his rival. Having delivered on his promise, Svenya received the news that Darius Starbourne was apparenly hiding aboard the “Star Heron,” flagship of Lady Captain Evelyn Lin, currently in orbit around the Hedge.

We set off, now, once more, to that remote planet, this time to see if we can untangle whatever threads of obligation and alliance that may exist between the Lin dynasty and Darius Starbourne’s branch of the Starbourne Dynasty. In preparation for this departure, Lord Captain Roland met and spoke with High Admiral Starbourne’s son, Nicolas Starbourne, Lord-Captain of his father’s flagship. In this meeting, they learned some of the details of the altercation at Starbourne’s world, and got Nicolas’ assurances that should they convince Darrius to emerge from hiding, Nicolas will treat him well in exchange for House integration under Nicolas.

We shall see what further complications we discover once we arrive at the Hedge.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Strange Meetings
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Faith Brooks No Blasphemy”

We have arrived at the Hedge. Lord Captain Roland invited Lady Captain Lin to dine aboard the Sovereign of the Void, but put off the dinner itself until after he and his retainers had descended to the surface. He had decided that it would be a good idea to keep the Consul informed of ongoing political developments lest the terrorist leader undermine our efforts. After that, he determined to enter the complicated negotiations alluded to in my previous entry.

They have just returned from the planet ill at east. All I have thus far learned is that the Consul is more than he seems, and unlikely to be a Primarch. Nevertheless, his agenda aligns with our own, and he is willing to coordinate his terrorist network with our own interests going forward. If I were not so busy putting the final touches on the formal dinner for Lady Captain Lin, I would press for more information. Perhaps after dinner once Lin and her people have departed.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

View
Infestation
The Immaterium

(500 + GE)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Ree, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: A Warp Infestation
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor’s Light Protects the Pious, Burns the Unclean”

If there is anything that reminds one of the gibbering power and madness that we immerse ourselves in whenever we enter the Immaterium, it is a Gellar field fluctuation.

Shortly after we entered the Warp to return to Port Echo, I decided that it would be diplomatic to host a formal dinner for the benefit of our three passengers, and to see what secrets or tensions might reveal themselves by placing the representative of the Consul in the same room as two citizens of the Regency. Cousin Roland was kind enough to offer the use of his formal dining room within his suites, and so most of the senior staff and trusted retainers gathered. Uncle Svenya’s servants were in top form, preparing dishes to delight the palate. Cousin Roland was being fashionably late while the rest of us gathered and began initial conversations. Suddenly, there was a distinctive mechanical wailing, for but a mere few moments, that represented a momentary fluctuation in the Gellar field that protects all of us from the seething peril of the Immaterium. Almost immediately thereafter, we all heard the sound of a woman screaming, and the thumping and crashing of some conflict from the Lord-Captain’s quarters upstairs.

Blades appeared seemingly from nowhere in Uncle Svenya’s hands as he and Armsmaster Steihr Mandis departed in some haste to the Captain’s succor. I took a few moments to manage the outcry of the assembled guests. Elder Soros, the Consul’s Praetorian representative, swore upon his honor to see to the safety and survival of all guests, even those of the Regency. Cousin Via asked the “Arch” Ecclesiarch (who has wisely since moderated his title somewhat) to lead the others in prayer. Navigator Primaris Soteris asked her own guest, Robar Calyx, to use his own talents to protect the noncombatants. Thereupon, I, Sister Via, Sister Bast, Navigator Primaris Soteris, and Astropath Darrius, followed upon the heels of the two already departed to determine what was the matter.

We arrived in the Captain’s study and receiving room which had been torn apart, furniture smashed. Two of the Captain’s personal guard were crumpled, broken messes upon the floor, and the Captain’s lovely housekeeper Melaine, bloodied and traumatized, was in the midst of explaining to Uncle Svenya what she had seen. Armsmaster Mandis was nowhere to be seen, having presumably continued a pursuit. The blubbering housekeeper was in the midst of describing how our Lord-Captain, Cousin Roland de Carvajal, had become possessed by something daemonic, and had come at her, attacking her with a clear intent to ravish. When his guards and personal butler, Rab Piran, attempted to dissuade him, he crushed the guards, abducted Piran, and fled his chambers. I was preparing to immediately see to the security of the bridge and the survival of the ship when Astropath Darrius pulled a laspistol with the clear intent to shoot Ms. Melaine Jacinda.

Uncle Svenya moved with nearly blinding speed to distance himself from the woman I am informed was his lover before Darrius could fire. Also, in that split moment before he pulled the trigger, Melaine’s pleading to Svenya transformed into daemonic compulsion as her body warped and twisted, rocking all present with the terrifying aura of a manifested daemon. Suddenly Darrius’ motivation became clear as his first shot struck home.

The combat against the daemonic manifestation was swift and sudden, Svenya demonstrating particular martial capability while the pure faith of Sister Via manifested to burn the creature, who radiated unholy allure, tempting the flesh of all present, male or female. The creature that had been Melaine was defeated, as Armsmaster Mandis re-entered the room. I realized that should a possessed Lord-Captain achieve the bridge, we were all as good as dead, and so I took Sister Bast with me to secure that location and deal with any other incursions that may have happened on the ship while the rest sought to track down the errant Lord-Captain.

As I was arriving at the bridge, the ship was rocked by an explosion. Bridge instruments revealed that plasma conduits for the starboard macrobatteries had exploded, apparently due to sabotage. There were demonic infestations appearing all over the ship, often wearing the faces and bodies of trusted loved ones before striking. My hands were quite full managing response teams, organizing the resolve of the crew to root out the tainted and corrupted, and seek to isolate and destroy them. During this process, Carto-Artifex Chiara Soteris reported that her Navigator Primaris had suggested via micro-bead that she plot a course to the closest inhabited world in case some damage was done to the Gellar field or the Warp engines. Apparently Cousin Roland had headed into the depths of the Enginarium, slaughtering servitors and Tech-Priests alike with unnatural strength.

I could not waste too much time in fretting, however, as I had a hundred-thousand souls to look after. In time, however, Enginseer Prime Graylock reported that Lord-Captain Roland’s party had been cornered in the Warp Drive chamber and that the demonic presences had been expunged. She reported that Roland had, apparently, not been possessed, but rather it was Rab Piran and two of Roland’s hounds that had hosted daemons. Roland had merely been the victim of daemonic domination. Whatever the daemon within poor Piran had intended, the interference of the party that tracked him down put an end to it. Much relieved, I dedicated my entire attention to cleaning up the remaining minor daemonic incursions.

It took about a day for matters aboard the ship to stabilize. It would have taken longer if not for the quick action of the Astropathic Choir who joined their minds and cast a soothing balm of calm and resolve over the ship, enabling them to more effectively counter the terror of an encounter with even the most minor daemonling. Once things were calm, I felt it important to demonstrate to our passengers and our crew that we were not deterred, and I resumed the interrupted formal dinner which went off quite well, notwithstanding the occasional haunted look or ginger, wounded movement.

Uncle Svenya’s organization amongst the crew, coupled with Sister Via’s own efforts in organizing the ecclesiastical services thereof, have all been mobilized in sweeping the crewmembers of any suspicion of taint. Blood ran upon the deck plating as our hidden blades of the Emperor did their bloody work. I have every confidence that soon our ship will be effectively cleansed on this momentary and, thank the Emperor, fairly minor incursion. Cousin Roland, of course, having had a most-traumatic experience, has spent the last day in his chambers recovering.

My heart goes out to Uncle Svenya. He lost a lover to daemonic possession, as well as a trusted employee. Even though he strikes me as the sort of… practical man who would use children as food tasters, even the hardest man can feel pain for the loss of a loved one. I thought to offer my services as a discreet, listening ear, but it would appear that he has sought the company of Armsmaster Mandis to drown his sorrows in a more… typically masculine way. The rest of those who hunted Cousin Roland and his daemonic escort down have been withdrawn since the incident, which is only to be expected considering the no doubt soul-shattering experience of doing battle with the daemonic. Only Sister Via seems more invigorated even than before. I can only presume she had her faith in the Emperor well and truly confirmed.

End Cipher Lock

View
The Regency
Tria

(600 + GE)
(all present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Regency Politics
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Ignorant Heretic May Be Redeemed, The Willful Heretic Must be Burned”

With the return of my cousin and his entourage, along with the Consul’s representative, Elder Soros, we met to determine our next course. The Lord-Captain decided that, having delivered the naval diplomat Lt. Rickard to the Consul, the time had now come to venture to the heart of the Licenian Regency to deliver our other diplomat, Lt. Mina. Elder Soros himself provided some direction, informing us that the most distant worlds of the original Licenian Republic were likely to be the least guarded by the Regent’s navy, and the most likely to listen to a reasonable approach.

Of these two worlds, the prison world of Galer struck Roland as the most potentially problematic, leaving the monastery-world of Tria. This distant, rocky, inhospitable planet has long been a retreat for the spiritually-minded of the subsector with little to no military significance. Roland determined that the planetary governor of such a world would be a useful first-contact for delivering our diplomat to her goal. Our Navigators once again proved their worth and a crossing of days was done in a little less than one.

Our arrival in Tria’s orbit was clearly a surprise to the merchant traders in orbit as well as the planetary governor. They did not recognize the term “Rogue Trader” but accorded to us all due respect, perhaps because we were the largest warship they had seen in some time. Lord-Captain Roland and his senior retainers, along with Lt. Mina and some bodyguards, descended to the sole spaceport where the planetary governor waited to meet with them. He was clearly curious and utterly ignorant that the warp storms had diminished and that the return of the Imperium was imminent. It would appear that the navigators of the Regency, who are all apparently of the single House Calyx, which rose to dominance alongside the Starbourne Dynasty, have been ordered by the High Regency Council to hide the fact that the warp storms have abated.

It is here that I will attempt to distill a good many things learned by my cousin and his retainers during our few days orbiting this backwater. It would appear that the Regent managed to govern the subsector for some five hundred years before extreme old age and infirmity forced him to seal himself in a convoluted stasis field that effectively “froze” his mind in the psychically-open position, leaving him a living beacon in the warp, yet ageless, thoughtless, and timeless. He left behind a high council of six, the “Regency Council”, and a low council of six, the “Council of Governors.” The lower chamber looks inward to the administration and running of the subsector, while the upper chamber has loftier power and more far-reaching goals. The Regency Council contains the Lord-Patriarch of Navigator House Calyx, the “Fabricator-General” of the subsector’s Adeptus Mechanicus, High Admiral Silas Starbourne in command of the subsector’s significant navy, a High Marshall of the subsector’s armies, the head of the “Ordo Psykana” governing the sector’s limited numbers of psykers, and an individual known only as the “Veiled Mask” the head of the Regent’s assassins and secret police.

The name Starbourne was of some interest. Apparently after the warp storms rose, the Starbourne Dynasty trapped here used the authority of their prestigious Warrant of Trade to seize significant power and influence in the burgeoning Regency. Their control of the only source of Promethium solidified their hold over the ships of the Regency’s navy, and on their coat-tails their contracted Navigator house was able to compel by marriage and adoption the navigators of the other Houses in operation in the area. Navigator-Primaris Demetria Soteris spoke in private with a member of House Calyx living here on Tria where she learned much of this information. She also determined that House Calyx sees the bigger picture, and was more than eager to strike a bargain with her to aid them in re-integrating into their larger House and the Imperium at large. Her contact, Robar Calyx, furthermore speculated that Silas Starbourne, the current High Admiral, was a clever enough man to see the profit in the larger empire.

Our Armsmaster, Steihr Mandis, was meanwhile learning all he could of the local Adeptus Mechanicus. Apparently, despite appropriating the title of “Fabricator-General,” a title used only by the chief of the Adeptus on Mars, they local Tech-priesthood had remained more or less true to their original creed, although some divergence had occurred. They too seemed unconcerned about re-integration with the larger imperium.

The Astropath Darrius discovered that there was a “Planetary Telepath” stationed on Tria. He went to meet with this individual wherein he discovered that it was an old tradition amongst the ancient “Republic” to kill anyone born with psychic potential. The reason for this was that the warp storms that wax and wane over the subsector make psykers particularly dangerous. Under the Regency, however, this danger was accepted. Instead of being slain, potential psykers are brought to the Regent’s court where they undergo horrific testing that, according to Darrius, well-exceeds the tests of the Scholastia Psykana. Because the warp is so close here, the dangers of psykers are that much greater, and much more severe methods need to be taken to ensure the safety of the populace. That said, those few who pass the tests are individuals of rare and unique power and will, and they serve the Regency in a variety of roles. Darrius learned that the head of the Regency’s “Ordo Psykana” had directed all psykers in the subsector to direct their divinations toward the region of the Birth Stars, a star cluster associated with the religious beliefs of the ancient Licenians, and the stars from which the mutant witches aboard our own vessel had seen a great threat arising. This Planetary Telepath granted to Darrius his own visions of that place, which Darrius combined with his own personal knowledge to come to a theory of the nature of this threat.

There is, apparently, a formless and amorphous entity, without identity, that hungers for the beacon that is the Regent. In some fashion, this entity seeks identity, or at least potency, via translation to the material world, and the Regent is the gate through which this could be accomplished. This accorded with the research Cousin Via had been doing in the librarium-archives of Tria, including a fragment of prophecy unearthed by Navigator Primaris Soteris that “In the midst of War, Change will arise.” Via, tapping forbidden lore the source of which I shall choose not to consider, speculated that this amorphous entity may not be a newborn Chaos godling but rather an existing one, well known to those permitted to study such blasphemies known as the “King in Rags and Tatters,” or the “Radiant Lord.” He is apparently an entity of insanity and madness in service to the Changer of Ways, whose name I will not utter, even to my personal log. The result of this horrible consideration is that somehow the outbreak of large-scale warfare may draw the presence of Chaos powers and permit this being to manifest itself. Interestingly enough, those whose faith once warded the Regent had been cast aside a mere century or so ago.

It was revealed that here, on Tria, lived an individual calling himself the “Arch-Ecclesiarch,” a title that nearly made me break my composure with a derisive laugh. To take the title of the head of the entire Ecclesiarchy, and then add the word “Arch” in front of it is the height of ridiculous. Cousin Via, along with Roland and Uncle Svenya, went to meet with this person wherein they learned that once his predecessor in the title had been one of the Regency Council. Due to political maneauvering, the “Arch Ecclesiarch” of that time was ousted in favor of the Psyker Primaris of the Ordo Psykana. Apparently, once the Regent “went into occlusion” and could no longer monitor the orthodoxy of his people, the faith and influence of the Imperial Creed began to steadily wane, eroded by heretical fringe groups, Rationalists, and others who, because they could not see the miracles of the Emperor, turned instead to the flashier effects of the Psykers. Instead of a choir of the faithful warding the Regent’s stasis-throne with constant prayer, the Ordo Psykana has erected complex wards and psychic barriers. The Arch-Ecclesiarchy, therefore, was relegated to exile on distant Tria where the current holder of that title promised his uttermost aid to Via, and has moved himself wholesale aboard our ship seeking introduction to the Empire’s own orthodox church.

All of this learning concluded, however, when Darrius learned through the Astropathic network that Port Echo and Task Force Litany had been attacked by High Admiral Silas Starbourne and a significant Regency naval force. Inquiries were made and responses eventually received that told a fragmentary story. Apparently, when Darius Starbourne attacked Starbourne’s world in an attempt to consolidate his standing in his dynasty, the Regency Council took that as an Imperial attack. They dispatched their High Admiral to deal with the matter. The High Admiral scattered Task Force Litany, but seemed to take especial care not to cripple any of their ships, and took no action against Port Echo. Currently the Licenian naval force has invested Port Echo with a blockade, and seeks to use their position as a bargaining chip to open negotiations with the Imperial Navy. It is the speculation of Navigator Primaris Soteris and her new associate Robar Calyx that this is Silas Starbourne’s first move in a planned defection to the Empire. Sadly, we have no idea yet of the Naval response, but Commodore Tyrian is not a man to easily forgive.

Cousin Roland is weighing his options. Do we attempt to negotiate with the High Admiral remotely, via astropathic message to Lady-Captain Surma, and thence to the High Admiral, or do we risk ourselves and our ship in attempting to open personal negotiations with the High Admiral in the face of what is overwhelming military force?

The time has come at last when Lord-Captain Roland de Carvajal y Corazon Aguirre must make a choice that may kill us all, or may bring us immense profit.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

View
The Bolder Path
Port Echo / The Hedge

(800)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Loose Ends
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor Favors the Bold”

Today my cousin Roland, for the first time in recent memory, asked my advice and seemed genuinely interested in what it might be. That sentence may sound more bitter than was intended. I fully understand my cousin’s reticence to confide too deeply in a member of the de Liire family. I know he trusts me as his First Officer mostly because he knows my sacred vows will not permit me to inherit the Warrant. That said, it was good to be an active participant in his counsel rather than a passive recipient of his decisions. My task is often that of the guardian, who watches over the ship while my cousin and his senior retainers seek wealth and glory, and I am content with that task. Someone has to see to the dynasty’s continuity, someone has to watch over the gains made thus far while my cousin bravely goes forth to seek even greater wealth and power.

The request for advice came at the tail end of a spirited disagreement on forward direction. Cousin Roland and his senior retainers had spent two weeks taking care of a number of loose ends here on Port Echo. Roland worked with Lady-Captain Surma to disseminate news of Reynard’s execution. Reynard’s section of the station had been scoured by Aguirre serfs, and the mysterious Mr. Li was delivered to my cousin as a “gift of goodwill” from the Lord-Captain of the Starling Dynasty, who I had thought defunct. Apparently they have powerful new backers in the Amaranthine Syndicate, a group I will have to inquire of my contacts about. Mr. Li’s mind contained all manner of knowledge about the dark xenos that have hounded our dynasty, which my cousin and his people also worked to address. Battle-brother Jonathan was delivered to Commodore Tyrian, and I got to enjoy a delightful state dinner aboard the “Malignant” while cousin Roland made his report about the political entities of the Licenian subsector and the seeming fall of the Iron Templars. Lady Demetria Soteris delivered our guest from House Virth to his family and was rewarded with information about the battle at Starbourne’s World between Darius Starbourne and the military forces of the Regent, which Starbourne lost, as well as the location of Craftworld Aletheia. Cousin Roland sold the maps of the Wraith Worlds to the Flamel Dynasty, and the Sovereign of the Void was repaired and resupplied.

After these very busy weeks, the debate arose as to what we should do now. Uncle Svenya strongly backed the idea that we should seek to rapidly expand our profits by striking out for Neumos, a ruin-world made mention of in the old charts of Explorator Fleet Kappa Seven, and a world where one of Lord-Captain Finn’s ships disappeared. Cousin Roland was of the opinion that lurking at the periphery of the subsector was not the way of glory and true wealth, and that we should seek to grapple the mystery by the proverbial horns and seek to open lines of communication with both Regent and Consul. Arguments were had, and discussion was becoming heated when cousin Roland, apparently to break the deadlock, asked my opinion. I gave what I believe to be a fairly measured analysis of both suggested courses. Svenya’s was low-risk and decent potential reward, at least compared to Roland’s high risk suggestion which had the potential for truly astronomical reward. Furthermore, Svenya’s suggestion was short-term whereas Roland’s would take rather longer to come to fruition. Ultimately the Lord-Captain decided to go for the glory, but to mitigate the risks as best he could by attempting to circumvent the Regent’s military, and to rely upon the flag of diplomacy and truce.

Commodore Tyrian gave to us two Lieutenants delegated as ambassadors, one for each faction. Lord-Captain Roland had decided to take us back to the Hedge in hopes that these Eldar xenos and their ally the Consul will accept one such diplomat, and give us the knowledge necessary to deliver the second to his enemy the Regent. I will say that this plan is definitely not a direct route, but may prove to be safer for all that we’re dealing with untrustworthy xenos.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Son of the Emperor
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor’s Eye Watches and Protects”

They have returned from the surface of the Hedge once more, and I must admit, I don’t know what to think about what little they have said about what they found beyond the Eldar’s portal.

They landed, spoke with this Seer Aleph, and returned to fetch the diplomat, Lieutenant Rickard. They went back down, apparently having been invited by this Consul himself beyond the Eldar Portal. They were gone for only a handful of hours.

They seem very hesitant to say anything with certainty, but it is clear that they were all shaken on some level by this Consul, who, Emperor protect me if I blaspheme, may be a Primarch.

Legends speak of the Primarchs, twenty great being, created by the Emperor Himself at the end of the Age of Strife, stolen by the forces of Chaos and reclaimed, one by one, by the Emperor’s Great Crusade. Two of the twenty, the Second and the Eleventh Primarchs, are mysteries, missing completely from Imperial records, although presumably Space Marine legions were created from their gene-seed. Is this Consul truly one of them? Or was there a Twenty-First, a babe, held in stasis all these long millenia only to awaken when the storms took Licenia? I daren’t speculate. I must remain firm in my faith, I must pray upon this matter. The Enemy works in many ways, subtle and cunning, to seduce the faithful into heresy, and I must be vigilant.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

View
Politics Foreign and Domestic
The Hedge / Port Echo

(800)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Complexities and More Complexities
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Enemy of My Enemy Can Be My Ally… For Now”

My cousin and his senior retainers have returned from the surface of the Hedge. They are pensive. Cousin Via opted against setting foot on xenos ruins, a sentiment I can hardly fault her for, but the rest apparently learned a significant amount of information about the political situation in the Licenian Subsector from an unusual duo of xenos psyker and Space Marine.

There was apparently some sort of portal in the ruins that permitted the xenos “Eldar” to arrive and engage in negotiations. This creature was accompanied by guards of his own species and a human of the stature of one of the Adeptus Astartes. Over the course of discussions with cousin Roland, the following historical narrative was pieced together.

When the Licenian crusade was swallowed by the warp storms, the Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Warren Didaskolos saw the imminent victory of his heretical foes. He took the extraordinary step of utilizing unknown Licenian technology to emulate the Astronomican using his own significant psychic abilities for the purpose of guiding the crusaders to Licenia. When they arrived, he used his inquisitorial authority to take command of the fleet and the Imperial Guard regiments and suppressed the rebellion as “Regent” of the Emperor in the subsector. The “Regent” we’ve heard so much about is, apparently, this Inquisitor who has managed to sustain himself and his warp beacon, and has used the descendants of the Imperial Crusade to maintain his hold on the subsector, as well as his monopoly on rapid space travel despite the dangers of piloting through warp storms.

The Iron Templars, however, were deeply disconcerted at the Inquisitor’s choice of methods, seeing hubris in it, and a dangerous parallel to the teachings of the Heresy itself. They split from the overall crusade and began operating independently.

At about the same time that this “Regent” was setting up his beacon, a powerful native-born psyker, who had been hidden by the heretics, came into his adulthood and became the figurehead of the rebellion against the Regent. In a daring move of diplomacy, he made contact with the Iron Templars and convinced them that his cause was the cause to support. Ever since, the descendants of the Iron Templars have formed the core of this “Consul’s” guerilla rebellion force.

The Consul also made allies of the Eldar xenos of Craftworld Aletheia. The Eldar, apparently, see a looming threat from the “birth stars” and perceive that this evil has been corrupting the Regent. They oppose the former Inquisitor based entirely on the fact that this region of space is apparently home to a great evil in the warp, which is why the original Licenian republic eschewed warp travel and tended to execute their psykers.

So… on the one hand, we have the Regent, a former Imperial Inquisitor, who claims loyalty to the Emperor but rules as his Regent, his own psychic powers permitting warp travel despite the storms. He also possesses overwhelming military might and the resources of worlds that were too far for the old Republic to exploit. On the other hand, we have this powerful immortal psyker, who may well in fact be seen by the rebels as the “Emperor reborn” (although he may not actually claim as much himself), the figurehead of the heresy and rebellion against Imperial rule, allied with the descendants of a space marine chapter and inscrutable xenos in a hit-and-run guerilla resistance. They apparently use the mysterious travel methods of the Eldar in their strike tactics, which is how they have survived this long.

There was, apparently, a great deal of questions asked and answers given. I can tell that Cousin Roland has a lot to think on. Both sides of this conflict seem like they could be heretical in their own way. Who knows which “friend” will become “foe” or vice versa? The Eldar have permitted us to return to speak with them, as well as their human allies, via the Hedge should we wish it. Roland returned the wreckage of their ships to them as a gesture of goodwill, and took steps to prevent Lady-Captain Lin from interfering in the xenos ruins. We will return, now, to Port Echo to deliver our Iron Templar battle-brother (to whom we told nothing of the fate of his chaptermates of seven centuries back) to the Empire and to repair and resupply our ship.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Next Entry:

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Cleaning Up our Messes
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Righteousness Brooks No Delay”

After enduring a brief warp storm on our return trip, we arrived at Port Echo. Task Force Litany has grown, and Commodore Tyrian immediately contacted cousin Roland. Apparently, in our absence, Lord-Captain Finn took it in hand to make war upon Reynard and his xenos allies with the goal of exterminating them from the station as a gesture to the Commodore that he was a loyal Imperial officer. Lord-Captain Finn ended up assassinated by a xenos assassination device while his Mistress of Commerce Surma, who was leading the assault, was badly wounded and their forces repelled by active xenos resistance.

Mr. Li, speaking for Reynard, presented papers claiming and affirming that Reynard was a duly-employed servant of House Aguirre, and now Port Echo is afire with rumors that cousin Roland and Surma were in collusion to kill off Lord-Captain Finn so that Surma could ascend to replace him. She has, in fact, become the de facto Lady-Captain of the station, as she has significant supporters of her own, and a plausible denial tha she could have killed Finn at any time if she had wished it, but circumstances surrounding our last visit do make it easy for conspiracy theories to abound. Commodore Tyrian made it clear that we need to clean up this mess lest it go to naval tribunal which could result in House Aguirre being barred from Port Echo entirely.

As we prepared to dock, Lady-Captain Flamel’s man Orion contacted our ship and traded some verbal barbs with cousin Roland. Apparently there have been groups strongly pushing to ban Aguirre from the station, and the people we left behind to set up an emporium are essentially barricaded in their section of the station. Flamel’s man indicated she was still interested in purchasing those charts, and suggested that they were not the ones behind this scandalous rumormongering.

Cousin Roland decided that the first thing he needed to do was confer with Surma. He met her in the command center. Apparently she lost an arm and an eye in the fighting and has had them replaced. She and Roland conferred on the best way to deal with this problem, and they decided that it would be best if House Aguirre took care of the problem publicly and brutally, sealing in the minds of the populace that this Reynard was not in their employ. Surma would help covertly, but if she helped overtly rumors might arise that they were merely cleaning up their mutual scheme.

Uncle Svenya conferred with the tech priesthood of our ship, as well as his informants on the station, and what blueprints Surma could provide to develop as accurate an understanding of Reynard’s section of the station as possible. They then planned a solid perimeter of Aguirre soldiers backed by Surma’s people to seal the exits, shooting anyone flushed out from Reynard’s section of the station while cousing Roland himself, and his strongest and most capable, would lead a cadre of murder servitors into the heart of Reynard’s section via teleportarium with the aid of destroying their independent power source. As Reynard has long been cut off from the station’s power and air, this would effectively turn off light and gravity. They would then create a hull breach to leach air. They would then, using enviro-suits, seek out Reynard himself and any computer records before utilizing the teleportarium to escape.

They put this plan into motion. I stayed aboard the bridge with our Master of Etherics to monitor the situation, while Darrius kept me informed via mental telepathic link. Apparently they were quite effective, accurately guessing the location of the small plasma drives being used to power the section of the station. They fought off ten xenos creatures. Sadly, Navigator Primaris Demetria Soteris was grievously wounded, but not so badly that they could not help her along while they completed the rest of their mission, plundering the cogitator-core and locating Reynard. They have just now returned to the Sovereign of the Void with Reynard’s head and their plundered cogitator-engines and looted xenos weaponry. Lady Soteris is being rushed to the Medicae-facilities while cousin Roland takes stock and decides how to proceed.

Cipher Lock Disengaged.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.