The Licenian Crusade

A Fleet and a Relic
Port Aguirre / Throne of the Sky Father

(600 + GE)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: The Emperor be Praised!
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “A Diamond May Be Found in Every Cess Pit…”

I am still amazed at the miracle. I should put my maelstrom-thoughts in order by focusing on chronology and more mundane events. Perhaps then I can readily relate what reports are coming to me about the Serena’s Grace.

I have been so busy these past six months helping missionary Tyrian recruit, train, and re-organize the faithful among our (now) three ships that I haven’t had much opportunity to reflect privately in writing. Suffice it to say that we have spent those months pouring time and resources into rehabilitating the two vessels salvaged from the surface of the scrapyard world known as the Throne of the Skyfather.

Our new frigate, the Star of Caedicius, is armed and capable, commanded by cousin Althea d’Oro at the suggestion of Navigator Primaris Demetria Soteris. It would seem that our Navigator saw some promise in cousin Althea, and I can’t disagree. Soteris also delegated her own trusted second, Eryx, along with his wife, to provide primary navigation services. Svenya sent his trusted (lover?) Mahesh to act as quartermaster, and probably spy. Missionary Tyrian and I have settled upon two pious young men from the crew-clans named Samuel and Jacob to elevate via Holy Rite to the rank of Priest of the Ecclesiarchy. Samuel shall act as ship’s confessor to the Star.

Likewise, our new trading vessel the Angel of Tria is fully functional. Cousin Roland has yet to decide on who shall captain her, and it is true that, as a trading vessel, less care was put into her command staff overall, but our new Choirmaster has sent our former Choirmaster Orlen Ilex to serve aboard the Angel, doubtless as an honorable form of working retirement. It is true that Darrius has been effectively acting in Orlen’s stead for a good long time now aboard the Forgehammer, and the Sovereign of the Void before her.

We brought our new vessels back to the Throne of the Sky Father just in time to relieve lady Fatima Haram of her Dynasty’s obligation to guard the world on our behalf. She seemed keen to depart once we had determined that our new vessels were capable, but came aboard for one final proposal. She noted the speed and apparent secrecy with which we refit our two new ships, and surmised (rather cleverly and correctly) that we must have a secret shipyard somewhere. She opened negotiations for her Dynasty to make clandestine use of it in their own salvage operations.

Many days of back-and-forth and close-lipped negotiations concluded with a deal, entered into by Cousin Roland and lady Fatima’s father, Ali Haram. Dynasty Haram shall pay us an annual fee for use of Port Aguirre, and a percentage of the value of every ship they rehabilitate there. They also shall permit Dynasty Aguirre to inspect every hulk they tow into the vicinity to ensure its safety before permitting it to seek docking, as Dynasty Haram’s source for their ships is the dire-rumored Processional of the Damned.

Although this caused some consternation, Dynasty Haram has assured us of their own care and caution in making use of such a resource.

We spent some days pulling hulks off the surface of the Throne of the Sky Father and casting them into orbit for the Angel and the Star to pick over and transport to Port Aguirre. Of particular note was the hindmost half of the Adeptus Sororitas light cruiser Serena’s Grace. We had first encountered this ship crushed into the conglomerate of the space hulk that we encountered in the warp, the same vessel that emerged in our wake and impacted the planet below. The ship had served honorably in the Angevin Crusade, and had received its name by being the vessel that transported the body of Saint Serena from the battlefield where she fell to the world of her theophany, Entheo. The history of this ship was intriguing enough when first encountered that Cousin Roland even considered the unprecedented and dangerous move of boarding the space hulk while it was still in the warp.

Apparently the hind-half of the Grace survived impact relatively intact. Cousin Roland and his senior retainers, along with a half-dozen murder servitors, descended to reconnoiter, notwithstanding the high likelihood of daemonic infestation.

Reports I’ve heard make that likelihood a certainty. They encountered gibbering horrors in service to the Changer of Ways, kept tangible by the will of a sorceress of great power. After defeating her and her daemons, investigation surmised that she may well have been one of the Battle Sisters of the ship, driven mad by some ancient circumstance, given longevity and power by the blessings of the dark gods. It makes me tremble to think what it must have taken to corrupt a heart so pure, but my own heart is bolstered when I learned of what cousin Roland found there, a holy relic being used by the sorceress in blasphemous rites, but still pure and powerful, the long-lost Imperial identification tags of Saint Serena the Conscripted herself!

Missionary Tyrian wears them about her neck, a fact that I found shocking but for the revelation that she had donned them in a moment of inspiration (and lacking a proper container) and once having done so, she shared in an echo of the Saint’s ancient theophany. The relic has recognized our ship’s confessor, and she swears that someday, once the Saint has finished with her, she will gladly donate the relic to the Ecclesiarchy on Entheo.

Wonder of wonders. We even now know the Saint’s original name, at least as recorded on her Guardsman’s tags: Ilyana, a name lost to history.

I will need to pray upon this development.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Port Aguirre / Throne of the Sky Father

(600 + GE)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Knuckling Down
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Purge the Alien”

Upon departing from Port Echo, we made good time to Licenia where the core of Battlefleet Ixaniad continues to monitor the ongoing pacification of the subsector. Lady-Captain Antigone’s writ was good, and we spent some weeks repairing the Forgehammer, garnering new crew from the planetary population, inducting the crew taken from Port Echo into the proper Imperial Creed, taking on fighter pilots for our small craft, and negotiating a long-term contract with a Magos-Technologist Coris, an envoy of the Lord Fabricator of the subsector.

It appears that the Adeptus Mechanicus of the subsector are keen to reintegrate with their greater brethren of the Imperium, as well as to establish ties to strong Imperial institutions. Dynasty Aguirre is certainly such an institution, and Cousin Roland did a fantastic job bargaining Magos Coris down to merely a staggering amount of wealth. Paying for the hundred-odd Tech Priests and their thousands of servitors for a contract that could span decades, on a secret shipyard far from their usual haunts was expensive, and wiped away many of our recent gains, but much as our deal with Lady-Captain Lin for the graviton grapnels, this is all seen as initial outlay for a potential windfall as we get our ship-manufactory going. To defray somewhat the immense cost of this contract, Cousin Roland threw in the xenos device, the Oculos, that we salvaged from Port Constance. It was, as indicated, dearly wanted, and the cost was defrayed significantly. In fact. Magos Coris offered to take charge of it personally and to study it at a laboratory he would build at our new secret shipyard, which we have dubbed “Port Aguirre”, so that we may continue to have access to the device should we have a need.

Cousin Via took a moment to visit us aboard our new flagship. She is doing quite well for herself and I’m quite proud of her. She ias managed to become the power behind the new Cardinal of the subsector, having guided poor Nestor Larch to the proper path of faith, and aiding him in his political ambitions. Cardinal Solaris’ support of her so long ago when he gifted Sister Bast to her as bodyguard has paid off, as she is making quite a name for herself, and for our Dynasty, in the new Imperial subsector.

We departed for our distant asteroid shipyard, arriving and establishing our Tech Priests who began busily preparing it for business. Without further ado, we returned once more to the Throne of the Sky Father.

The Silver Crescent, a frigate of Dynasty Haram, was in orbit and Lady-Captain Fatima Haram challenged us. When we identified ourselves as Dynasty Aguirre, she welcomed Cousin Roland aboard her vessel to report on the conclusion of our agreement with her family. They have apparently already salvaged what they estimated to be 20% of the value of the planet in scavenged ship components, and having secured the planet until our return, wondered if our arrangement was now concluded. They wished to attempt to raise their crashed vessel and be on their way. Cousin Roland, anticipating that it might be some time before we had additional vessels to guard the planet ourselves, negotiated another six months from Dynasty Haram in exchange for us using our new graviton grapnels to raise the Haram vessel once more to spaceworthiness. This we did. Upon doing so, however, we noticed that part of the hull was encrusted with a crystalline growth. Apparently, the shattered Yu’vath construct that was incorporated into the space hulk we shot down over the planet was composed of a living, crystalline xenos client species of that ancient foe, not too dangerous in small numbers, but a potential infestation to keep an eye on. Dynasty Haram was notified, and their people cleared the infection from the hull.

Missionary Tyrian went among the people of this benighted world who we had long since incorporated into our crew and extracted from them a series of their myths and tales, analyzing them to ascertain which of the wrecks upon the planet’s surface might be the most recent, and therefore the most intact and worthy of full rehabilitation. She met with great success, identifying a trading vessel and a frigate of Licenian Regency design, a shattered light cruiser, also theoretically of the Regency, and a frigate-sized vessel of the Children of Thorns.

Cousin Roland and his retainers soon realized that this xenos vessel was likely the same one that the psyker-prophet of this world indicated had been the source of the crystal-wisp corpse, the shattered Yu’vath construct that we delivered to Inquisitor Steendahl. We used our grapnels on the Regency frigate and Cousin Roland and a team went aboard to clear it of potential danger. They discovered dessicated Regency Navy corpses engaged in combat with obvious, twisted, chaos mutated humans in Guardsman kit, presumably of the supposed “Sabine’s Legion” that we had learned about from Admiral Starbourne. Missionary Tyrian blessed all the corpses, Regency and corrupted, and in so doing appeared to cleanse the vessel of daemonic taint.

We then raised the xenos vessel from the surface under the theory that we needed to learn of any dangers it might represent. Unlike the Regency frigate, much of this craft appeared to be reasonably undamaged, much of it still maintaining seal integrity, and even maintaining a low level of power (in whatever fashion the strange craft generates it). Astropath Darrius detected some 550 minds aboard the vessel, and so Cousin Roland’s group boarded cautiously.

Inside they discovered that the alien ship was apparently engaged in a self-healing mode utilizing methods much akin to the blasphemous system aboard the Sovereign of the Void. All the minds Darrius had detected were humans and even some Children of Thorns, all strung up and impaled on thorny blades, as the ship fed on their agony in order to repair itself. Sensing new sources of pain, the ship attacked the boarding party, but was eventually convinced of the error of that course of events.

The party made it to the bridge where Astropath Darrius sat upon the thorned throne, giving his blood and pain to the ship to learn more about it. Apparently it was an emissary of the distant capitol of this vile species sent to find a way past the blockade of Craftworld Aletheia to the remote outpost where Inquisitor Steendahl had once led us. They were to bring their secret cargo, presumably that Crystalwisp corpse, as well as crystalline data storage devices.

Darrius convinced the ship not to attack the boarders further, and the alien craft was plundered of everything considered reasonably safe. I have some concern about arming our most visible representatives with even more alien devices, but can’t argue their effectiveness as trophies.

The alien ship was then cast adrift and pounded to flinders with our plasma broadsides… and good riddance.

We then raised the transport ship from the planet’s surface with no further incident. We are currently strapping it and the frigate, both of Regency design and named, respectively, the Star of Caedicius and the Angel of Tria, to the Forgehammer in preparation for a return through the warp to Port Aguirre to begin the slow but potentially vastly profitable ship reconstruction endeavor.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Only Business
Port Constance / Port Echo

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

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Old Fashioned Profit
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor Rewards The Righteous”

I hadn’t expected to be back here in Port Echo, and neither did anyone else for that matter, but the vagaries of the warp made a stopover here more efficient than going directly to Licenia from the wreck of Port Constance, and so here we are. It’s probably well that we did so, however, as this gave Cousin Roland an opportunity to make an extremely high-value purchase from the Lin Dynasty that will, Emperor willing, lead to the significant advancement of our own Dynasty.

First, though, I should probably record the unpleasant business surrounding the boarding and securing of Port Constance. Lady-Captain Antigone was understandably preoccupied with re-asserting her command over her two remaining ships after they were forced to fire on and destroy the Red Star, consigning so many righteous men and women to death. Even so, she was able to to launch a fairly well-organized action to seize the docks and hangar bays of Port Constance to ensure that none could escape. Our Master of Etherics noted signs of energy weapon fire from deep within the station matching the alien energies of the cloud-weapon, and so it was determined that there were still likely xenos factions active on board. Cousin Roland and a few of his senior officers utilized our teleportarium to transport themselves, along with ten murder servitors, to the command and control center of the station in order to secure it.

Upon arrival they discovered that the station had been woefully neglected for seven centuries. Lit only by the dull red glow of emergency lighting, with consoles and systems barely functional, a few score dirty, starving, debased people lived in terror of the “Great Worm” and its servants. They apparently worshiped this Worm as their deity, and were in despair over its abandonment. Roland, Svenya, Astropath Darrius, and Navigator Primaris Soteris, along with the aforementioned murder servitors, fought off an attempt by abominable xenos constructs to seize the C&C. These constructs were, apparently, blasphemous fusions of metal and flesh utilizing living construct weapons that could disintegrate those struck. Fortunately they were put down, and Cousin Roland and his retainers ascertained the awful truth of Port Constance.

It would appear that there were no more than about 500 people on board a station that could hold up to a million. The men were all descended distantly from the original naval crew, and knew nothing other than service to the Great Worm. The women, however, were mostly imported via means of xenos teleportation technology from the nearby world of Ymir-3. Every woman on the station was in some stage of pregnancy. It was all a terribly efficient breeding farm to provide food for the “Worm”, namely the xenos Slaugth who sat at the center of the station manipulating everything. The humans themselves never met the Slaugth, but were herded by its constructs, and led by one of their own, chosen periodically to be the “Oculos”, a sort of seer, who led the community with seemingly prescient insight, but was always deposed to “ascend” to the Great Worm.

Cousin Roland’s retainers managed to get some damage control systems working, and salvaged about 2/3 of the station, and then investigated the Oculos. It was apparently an artifact from a different xenos species, something called a Brass Prism, a sort of helmet that apparently supercharges cognition. Those who plug into the item are able to think with a degree of logic and focus impossible to most minds, putting together seemingly disparate and unremembered facts to make amazing leaps of deduction. Darrius had heard of such things before, and knew that the Adeptus Mechanicus will pay incredible sums for a working example. Svenya also realized that Inquisitor Steendahl would find such a device incredibly useful. After carefully experimenting with the helmet upon a debased local volunteer, they determined that it had no immediately harmful side-effects, and so opted to take it with them.

They found the Slaugth’s lair and destroyed the two teleportation receivers that apparently connected the station to Ymir-3, and then left Port Constance to Lady-Captain Antigone’s task force to hold after evacuating the wretched inhabitants. Before departing, however, they raided what half-corrupted files the station had. They learned why Port Constance seemed to recognize us on our last appearance. It would seem that some four months before our initial arrival, another ship of the Imperium had stopped by Port Constance. The “Etheric Light” captained by Lady Elizabeth Starling had stopped by, offloaded some “supplies” and departed. This ship was the one that informed the “Oculos” that Dynasty Aguirre, along with agents of the Amaranthine Syndicate, and Dynasty Flamel, were potential allies. Cousin Roland and his people found it odd that a Starling dynasty vessel would have come to Port Constance so quickly after the warp storms had abated, and had only stopped by once, already apparently having the desired cargo.

We discussed what to do next. The Forgehammer had taken damage in the battle, but not so much that a shipyard was immediately necessary. Cousin Roland felt that we could not afford to neglect our investment in the Throne of the Sky Father for too much longer, but recognized we needed to put certain mercantile ducks in a row before we could begin our scheme to create our own secret shipyard. We needed two things above all. First, we needed a means to pull wrecked vessels out of a planetary gravity well. Second, we needed skilled Adeptus Mechanicus labor to staff the asteroid shipyard.

For the first, we recalled Lady-Captain Evelyn Lin’s similar efforts to pull the “Angevin’s Fire” from the surface of the Hedge. Since she had already done so, theoretically she might be willing to part with her graviton grapnels. For the second, Darrius consulted our new Enginseer Prime, who suggested that we inquire of the local Licenian Adeptus Mechanicus who are eager to prove their reintegration into the Imperium. Darrius sent word in an attempt to contact the Mechanicus, as well as a solicitation to Lady-Captain Lin.

Meanwhile, Lady-Captain Antigone hosted a private dinner for herself and Cousin Roland where she expressed her appreciation for our aid in the battle. This appreciation was very tangible and came in the form of a military requisition for trained interceptor pilots, as well as a note to her wealthy family, House Zenobia of Rashan, for preferential trade agreements which significantly improved our potential wealth.

We prepared to travel to Licenia, where the fleet is headquartered, for the purposes of getting those pilots, as well as some repairs, but our Navigator Primaris determined that the route between Port Constance and Licenia was unduly long and obscured. She calculated that she could rapidly get us to Port Echo, however, and find a much shorter route from there. Upon arriving, we noticed that Port Echo had a decidedly more martial air. Military supply ships were passing through, and the place looked much more the naval port of prior centuries than the pirate haven of more recent ones. Angevin’s Fire was in the shipyard, with Lady-Captain Lin’s own vessel, the Star Heron, in the vicinity. This fortunate coincidence permitted Cousin Roland to engage in negotiations to purchase Dynasty Lin’s grapnels. They are, of course, exotic tech from the Dark Age of Technology, and so not only would she sell the grapnels, but also the services of the highly specialized tech priests who can install and operate them. Needless to say, the financial gains we received from Lady-Captain Antigone were wiped away, and more so, by this purchase, but the theory is that they will reap for us a much greater profit in the long run after we start hauling wrecks off the Throne of the Sky Father for rehabilitation or salvage.

Lord Captain Roland also met with Lady-Captain Surma, who continues to look fondly on us for our role in elevating her to her current position. She has made great strides in cementing her legitimacy as a naval port captain and not as a pirate queen. She apparently even drove the renegade Navigator House Virth from the station after they kidnapped her daughter as leverage. Svenya’s skulking about the criminal underworld of the station revealed that the “Council of Nine”, which was apparently the organization that once ran the entire sector’s cold trade from Port Echo, had been shattered, and that the Port was now, as far as could be ascertained, as upstanding and Emperor-fearing a place as any. She did reveal, however, a prior knowledge of the Slaugth, and made no secret of her disgust that Dynasty Starling’s sponsors, the shadowy and immensely wealth Amaranthine Syndicate, appears to have been at least partially infiltrated by the vile xenos. It would seem that the Syndicate sent Elizabeth Starling to Port Constance. Lady-Captain Surma made it clear that while she didn’t have the authority to handle a Rogue Trader captain like Starling and his sister, she could certainly let us handle him.

Svenya just returned from a private conversation with Lord-Captain Lazar Starling, and he looks rather smug. I can only presume he’s taken care of the matter.

And now we’re off to Licenia for repair and to receive our new pilots. A representative of the subsector’s Lord-Fabricator, formerly of the Regency Council, will be meeting us there to negotiate the services of his priests. The plan to make the Aguirre Dynasty more than a one-ship dynasty appears to be well on track.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Engaging the Enemy
Delta 676 Asteroid Belt / Port Constance

(600 + GE)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: The Emperor’s Righteous Fury
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “No Sacrifice is Too Great for the Emperor’s Service”

It took us only about a standard month to get the Forgehammer up to minimum capability. Considering the logistical nightmare involved, this is nothing short of a divine miracle. As we are taught, however, the Emperor moves through the efforts of his children, and I do not diminish the skill and capabilities of Cousin Roland’s trusted officers and retainers.

Moving 90,000 people out of the ship that many of them have served for generations onto an entirely new vessel, with entirely new systems and mechanisms, with nothing but eccentric tech-priests lost to the Imperium for 7 centuries to instruct them, knowing they’ll have to pull double duty because we’re now about 44,000 people short from optimal crew capacity, was never going to be easy. Not to mention the fact that many of the armaments of the Forgehammer are actively dangerous to the ship and crew if misfired or misused.

Fortunately, between Svenya, who is widely known as an authority-figure among the crew, and Darrius whose particular talents lend his mind to logistical problems of this complexity, the details were hashed out fairly quickly. Cousin Roland demonstrated his remarkable capacity to lead, orchestrating the move in a manner minimally disruptive to the crew-clans, while Steihr managed to mediate a doctrinal schism between the Tech-priests we brought with us and the ones that came with the ship. Missionary Tyrian called upon the faith of the crew to set aside their fears and misgivings in such a life-altering move, rotating the clan-leaders and lay priesthood through services in the half-restored Temple-Shrine, while our Navigator Primaris ensured her family was properly settled, and that the eccentric and ancient navigation systems were operational.

The machine spirits of this vast warship were brought ponderously to wakefulness. We have a lovely ceremony where command and ownership of the Sovereign of the Void was formally handed to the Julius Zora, the Consul, while he likewise granted formal command and ownership of the Forgehammer to Lord-Captain Roland de Carvajal. And with that, the Consul and his fleet vanished into the warp, leaving this asteroid-base empty and powered down. There was some discussion about appropriating it for our use, as apparently the Consul no longer needs it, but we simply didn’t have the manpower to leave any behind to man a small ship-repair and resupply station, and so we marked the location on our charts, and left it for now.

I invited the various senior officers and agents to a formal dinner commemorating the consecration of this new vessel. Missionary Tyrian, along with Cousin Roland, consecrated this vessel of war with the Lord-Captain’s blood, and invoked the Emperor’s blessing. Finally the truculent spirits of the vessel seemed to recognize their new master, and we gathered to celebrate. Over the main course, I asked Cousin Roland where he intended to go next, and gave him the benefit of the various correspondence I had spent the month engaged in via our Astropathic choir.

I informed him that the Imperial pacification efforts of the old Licenian Regency were well under way, but three of the seven core planets were still in upheaval. Vitruvia, Caedicius, and Galer had not yet succumbed to Imperial governance, and a warship of our new size and stature could be a significant aid in such efforts. There was also the concern of where to get more crew, and the idea was floated of press-ganging parts of the population of Galer. I also mentioned the loose-end of the Throne of the Sky Father, which Dynasty Haram was theoretically still watching over (and salvaging their 20%). Steihr suggested the idea that, with enough time and the right personnel, we could convert this secret asteroid base into a small shipyard and actually rehabilitate some of the wrecks from that ravaged planet and, over time, rebuild our fleet. It was definitely an idea worth pursuing as a long-term engine of profit and power. I somewhat casually suggested a third option, not seriously anticipating that Cousin Roland would find it appealing. I had learned through my contacts in Battlefleet Ixaniad that a task force under Lady-Captain Antigone Zenobia had been assigned to assault Port Constance and destroy it. I had presumed, what with our previous aborted visit to that benighted place, that while we may have been to originators of this naval action, that Roland would not wish to risk our under-manned ship on a full-on naval engagement.

I underestimated his ingenuity. We set course for the planet of Ymir-3 where we rendezvoused with the Lady-Captain. Cousin Roland turned up the charm during the tour he gave her of our new ship, and by the end of it, had managed to arrange for the Forgehammer to be brought up to full manpower via a combination of conscripts from the newly-reintegrated planet below, as well as trained naval personnel familiar with plasma weaponry. He even secured a few pilots to begin the training regimen to bring our small attack craft up to speed, although that would be a process taking a bit longer than we had before the planned engagement.

We accompanied the Lady-Captain’s flagship, the Starburst, and two raider-class vessels, the Demeter and the Red Star, to the location of Port Constance. Lady-Captain Antigone commanded the overall fleet from our bridge, as it is optimized for such activity. Upon detecting the mysterious xenos-tech cloud obscuring the station, we began the engagement with a shell from our nova cannon, and the battle was engaged. Although the first nova cannon shell flew a bit far, it did clear some of the cloud, and Steihr, having changed position to become our new Master of Ordinance, honed in his aim and in subsequent volleys cleared much of the cloud and did significant damage to the station. The station did not prove defenseless, however. The cloud itself was the most terrifying weapon, becoming charged with unnatural energies which lashed out like arcs of lightning, slashing through void shields and armor alike, and plucking the souls of all within, causing crew riots and serious moral problems. Fortunately, the station’s guns seemed as stymied by the cloud as ours were.

While Lady-Captain Antigone ordered her vessels to encircle the station to find a place in the cloud we had cleared enough with nova cannon fire to attack the station directly, we held back at long range with the nova cannon and sought to guide the overall battle. The xenos cloud-weapon was truly awful, but between Missionary Tyrian and Cousin Roland exhorting our crew, they were able to put the terror behind them. Astropath Darrius utilized his own skills to increase the aim and efficiency of our efforts, while Navigator Primaris Soteris utilized the unique sight of her kind to monitor the situation. Svenya at the helm made a ship of this size veritably dance.

Ultimately we did enough damage to the station that the cloud ceased its lightning and sudden communication from human-sounding voices entreated us to cease fire, claiming innocent families and imperial servants aboard. Darrius determined that the alien presence he sensed aboard the station had moved, through some mysterious means, into the holds of the Red Star, our allied vessel. Lady-Captain Antigone, hearing this, recognizing that swift action needed to be taken with firm resolve, jammed the Red Star’s communications and ordered all ships to fire upon her own vessel and destroy it. This we did, sending 20,000 souls to the Emperor, including loyal naval officers. I admit to being impressed. I’m not sure I could have acted to quickly and with such grim purpose on the word of a single astropath, but Svenya asserted inquisitorial authority and commended the officers and crews of the other vessels who had just turned their guns on one of their own, mitigating the consequences for the Lady-Captain.

We have a few moments while order is restored once more to shaken crews before preparing a boarding action onto Port Constance. I dread to learn what my intrepid comrades might find over there.

Cipher Lock Disengaged.

The Forgehammer
Craftworld Aletheia / Neumos / Delta 676 Asteroid Belt

(700 + GE)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: A Great Weight Lifted
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Opportunity Comes from Unlikely Places”

As I sit in my new quarters aboard this massive ship of war, my belonging still in disarray, and a million small tasks left to do, I cannot help but take a moment to reflect on the great weight that has lifted from my mind and soul.

I only learned about the blasphemous xeno-technology infesting the Sovereign of the Void recently, as well as the true, depraved depths of my father’s fall into darkness, but even before then the ship had shared my father’s ill-starred reputation as a vessel cloaked in secrets and stained by the blood of the countless betrayed directly or indirectly by my father’s dark dealings. I signed on as First Officer because I believe in my heart that cousin Roland, Lord-Captain of the Aguirre Dynasty, was the last and best chance we had to turn down a different path, to elevate the Aguirre once more into the Emperor’s light. I still believe that, but a part of me feared, deep inside, that my father’s secrets, and his blood-stained ship, might corrupt Roland, tempt him down dark paths. It is fortunate, I suppose, that during his brief tenure we did not enter into any naval engagements serious enough to tempt him to use the darker powers of this xenos artifact.

Roland has finally jettisoned, however, this last remnant of the old in favor of that which is bright and new. I understand his hesitance. After all, the Sovereign of the Void has come to be synonymous in many minds with the Aguirre dynasty, but that also makes this change a positive one. Those inclined to doubt the Dynasty’s new direction have less reason to do so now that our flagship is an ancient Grand Cruiser once in service to the Adeptus Astartes.

To record how this change came about, I must needs refer once more to the xenos Eldar, to whom we were to deliver some rare artifact of their people, the sphere that was responsible for the energy cloak over the world known as the Throne of the Sky Father, as well as an ancient war machine of their people which apparently contained Eldar souls. In exchange for the service of delivering the sphere, they had promised to “cleanse” the xenos-artifact infesting the Sovereign of the Void such that it no longer thirsted for the pain and death of human sacrifice. They readily acknowledged that the cancerous tendrils of the device could not be extracted from the vessel. I admit to being hesitant to permit Eldar to have intimate and extensive access to this ship to enact this “cleansing” for I do not trust that their intentions are entirely what they admit, but the matter was made moot when the Farseer of Craftworld Aletheia offered an alternative.

The former Licenian Consul, Julius Zora, the seemingly-immortal mystery who sat at the heart of the Licenian Heresy, the man whose renegades and allied Space Marines and Eldar fought at the Battle of Licenia against the daemon-corrupted only to disappear, the man wanted for questioning by High Admiral Aldred, was (of course) aboard the Craftworld. He offered to Cousin Roland a bargain that was almost suspiciously good.

It would seem that when the Iron Templars of the long-ago Licenian Crusade washed up out of warp storms near the planet of Vitruvia, they still possessed their fleet. Later, when they pledged themselves to the Consul, that fleet was most useful in establishing the nascent rebellion. Only later, when the alliance with the Eldar was finalized, did the Consul and his rebels have an effective means of guerilla hit and run, and at that time, the remaining ships of the Consul’s marines were effectively sidelined. The navigators aboard those vessels apparently also caused problems by stealing or sabotaging some of the fleet when they went over to the Regency to join the Calyx House. The Consul had a small fleet of warp-capable ships with no navigators to steer them, and no ability to bring them into the Eldar’s webway. They’ve been little-used for centuries. The Consul offered Roland the former flagship of the Iron Templars, a “Repulsive-class Grand Cruiser carrier” named the Forgehammer, complete with the full armaments and complement of attack craft, as well as the time and port resources to transfer whatever equipment from the Sovereign as was desired, in exchange for the Sovereign of the Void, in a functional state, with the xenos-infection intact.

The Consul’s motive was fairly clear. He had ships he couldn’t use, and wanted a ship that could travel the webway of his Eldar allies that nevertheless looked human enough to serve his purposes. He claimed that now that the Regency was ended, and the Licenian subsector is brought into the Pax Imperialis, that he was going to seek the mystery of his own origins and needed a vessel to help him do so.

The offer was no doubt calculated to be too good to refuse. Nevertheless, cousin Roland had some understandable concerns. From a purely mercantile point of view, it was an amazing offer. From the point of view of our dynasty’s reputation it was an amazing offer. But Roland is a pious man, and the Consul is an unknown quantity. To what purpose would he use this vessel that is so renowned in connection to the Aguirre dynasty? Would Cousin Roland be responsible for unleashing a great danger to our Imperium by dealing with this man? Furthermore, what would be the response of the Inquisition, specifically Inquisitor Steendahl, who clearly has an ongoing interest in our own continued possession of this rare ability to access the Eldar’s dimension?

Discussion raged amongst cousin Roland’s advisors, sometimes heatedly. Svenya, unsurprisingly, wanted to keep the Sovereign, no doubt calculating his master Steendahl’s continued interest. The others leaned toward taking the deal. Cousin Roland took a side trip back to Neumos to consult with Steendahl, and apparently reached an arrangement wherein Roland would negotiate an alternate method for Steendahl to access the webway via the Eldar themselves. I am given to believe there were some collateral worries imparted when cousin Roland set foot on the base on Neumos’ moon, but the details were not imparted to me.

Upon returning to Craftworld Aletheia, cousin Roland sought to get a second ship out of the Consul to no avail, but our Navigator Primaris offered the services of navigators from her house to the Consul’s space marines, now taking the Chapter Name Iron Aegis. While the Sovereign could travel through the webway, the remaining ships could not. In exchange for brokering and negotiating a contract, the marines offered servitors and tech priests sufficient to make the Forgehammer operational despite the shortfall in crew after transferring our own crewmembers to the much larger ship. This bargain also included the expertise of Drivesmaster Stanislav, the tech-priest who apparently is familiar with the rare and unusual plasma drives that power this rare ship. I am given to believe that the deal also included a vial of the Consul’s blood, doubtless with our Magos Genetor in mind.

Upon sealing the deal, the Consul, aboard a small Eldar vessel, led us through the webway to an isolated asteroid belt around a distant star where the remaining vessels of his fleet were berthed. The Sovereign of the Void is now alongside the Forgehammer, and we are engaged in the weeks-long process of transferring our interest to the new vessel. I have done what I can to aid Missionary Tyrian in properly transferring our temple shrine to the Emperor to the new ship and consecrating it. While that went well, for some reason the ship has thus far resisted our attempts to bless and consecrate it fully. I am told that this class of Grand Cruiser does have a certain reputation of its own, but so long as the reputation does not arise from dark deeds or xenos-artifacts, I have every confidence that our faith in the Emperor will overcome it.

Our crew is slowly settling in. It would appear that Enginseer-Prime Graylock will be staying with the Sovereign of the Void, committed as she is to battling the corruption of that ship’s machine spirits. I am sure one of the Tech Priests will eventually rise to the position she vacated. Svenya has begun sweeping this massive vessel for problems, and Darrius has ensured that our Astropaths have been made comfortable. It may take a while to become used to an entirely new ship, but a part of me is looking forward to forging a new destiny for our Dynasty aboard a rare and prestigious warship. The Flamels will doubtless seethe in jealousy.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Unexpected Allies
Throne of the Sky Father / Neumos / Craftworld Aletheia

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

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: The Throne of the Sky Father
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Chance Favor’s the Emperor’s Own”

The wreckage from the fragmented space hulk rained down upon the planet below. Storms and fires raged out of control. Fortunately most of the more valuable salvage sites escaped direct hits. While the planet burned, we considered what we had salvaged. The primitives we rescued began integrating into the crew-clans under the careful eye of Missionary Tyrian’s lay-priesthood and the more covert eye of our shipboard death cult. Marduk, their high priest, was another concern. Interrogator Svenya of the Ordo Xenos considered him a real and present threat more for what knowledge he may possess than for any hostile intentions, as Marduk seemed more than happy to be aboard a still-functioning “gift” of the Sky Father, on his way to meet his deity. Svenya arranged to sedate Marduk’s acolytes, although the sedative failed to work on Marduk himself. Svenya then invoked Inquisitorial authority to commandeer this vessel to deliver Marduk and his acolytes to Inquisitor Steendahl, which would presumably have taken us weeks back to Ichabarr and more weeks back.

I was hesitant to leave this world so quickly after we had opened up its riches for salvage, but Svenya was adamant that these psykers represented a real and present danger. Before we could depart, however, we detected a faint transmission from the planet’s surface. We were being hailed by a Frigate-class vessel calling itself the Silver Crescent, commanded by Lord Captain Aasif Haram of the Haram Dynasty. Apparently the ship had crashed upon the planet two weeks before our own arrival, having appeared out of the warp nearly atop the planet just as we had. Only now had they been able to repair their vox-caster, and only now that the shroud was dropped could their transmissions leave the planet in any case. As Lord Captain Roland was still unavailable, Svenya asked my counsel. I told him that we had two clear options: 1) destroy the vessel and all aboard and hope that Dynasty Haram never discovered it; 2) Render aid to Dynasty Haram’s vessel and reap the diplomatic and monetary rewards, but also risking leaving a rival to plunder the planet while we urgently departed.

Svenya opted to promise food, water, and medical aid to inhabitants of the trapped ship while communicating their location to Lord-Captain Aasif Haram’s brother, the bearer of the Warrant, Ali Haram aboard the Golden Sparrow. Aasif believed that Ali was merely a few days by warp travel away. This plan was altered with Navigator Primaris Soteris, utilizing the sight of her kind, noticed daemonic and xenos infestations growing from the impact craters of the shattered space hulk. At this point, Missionary Tyrian engaged in negotiations with Lord-Captain Aasif Haram, utilizing the force of personality that only the truly faithful may summon, to compel truth from him. He offered a service, namely the fact that we could not adequately protect our claim to the planet if we’re leaving so quickly. He offered to guard our stake in the salvage against third parties in exchange for 20% of the total salvage value of the planet below. In my estimation this would permit Dynasty Haram to recover their losses from the crash, but little more. It seemed a reasonable bargain, and we reached an accord. Svenya then agreed to delay our departure for a few days until the Golden Sparrow could arrive with its Lance battery to excise some of the daemonic and xenos encampments that were flourishing below. Our new nova cannon is far too blunt a weapon and would destroy much of the very salvage we could profit from.

Since we were waiting in-system anyway, we evacuated the Silver Crescent. Cousin Roland entertained Lord-Captain Aasif Haram. Dynasty Haram, it would seem, has close ties to the Ecclesiarchy and access to… interesting resources. Overall, however, their philosophy seems well-aligned with Cousin Roland’s piety. A few days later Lord-Captain Ali Haram arrive and was similarly courteous and grateful for our succor of his brother and his niece, the Lady Fatima Haram. He regaled us at dinner with the current news from Licenia, including the bounty placed on the head of the Consul by High Admiral Aldred, as well as current events out of Port Echo. He was overall a very congenial dinner guest. He and Cousin Roland retired to have a more private conversation which I was not privy to.

Having confirmed the friendship between our two dynasties, we left the Haram to survey the salvage on the planet while we left to deliver Marduk to Inquisitor Steendahl. In the interim, Astropathic communication revealed that Steendahl was in the vicinity of Neumos. We had a somewhat rocky passage, encountering a brief warp storm that our Navigator Primaris handled quite ably. We arrived at Neumos and noted the presence of Inquisition satellites and a fairly stealthy Grand Cruiser. After Svenya communicated our bona-fides, we were permitted to dock at the lunar base formerly belonging to the Mechanicus where the Inquisition had their base of operations.

I am given to believe there were some tensions between Marduk and Inquisitor Steendahl that were ultimately resolved. Marduk, his acolytes, and one of the artifacts recovered from the Throne of the Sky Father were delivered into Steendahl’s care. I noted that Svenya’s gait seemed slightly more… authoritative when he returned. I hesitate to speculate as to why.

We departed almost immediately to Craftworld Aletheia. Once again, Cousin Roland and his entourage boarded the massive vessel to confer with its mysterious Farseer. The sooner this Eldar artifact, as well as this massive war machine full of Eldar souls, is delivered the happier I’ll be.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

The Herald and the Harbinger
Throne of the Sky Father

(600 + GE)
(All Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: The Throne of the Sky Father
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Fate is the Manifestation of the Emperor’s Will”

We spent most of a week surveying the system containing the planet known, in our records, as the “Throne of the Sky Father.” The intense energies enveloping that world scored the sides of the Sovereign of the Void during our arrival in the system, and further experiments demonstrated that this envelope of atmospheric energy could effectively pulverize asteroids and other objects that got too close, but that the energies did not appear to actively seek out orbiting objects. Our Master of the Vox, in cooperation with our Master of Etherics, ascertained that the energies flux, ebb, and flow in somewhat predictable patterns, increasing the chances of a small landing craft slipping through one of the infrequent gaps in the shroud to make its way to the planetary surface.

Those among my cousin’s most trusted retainers who are more versed in such lore determined that these energies, while mysterious to our instruments, were not untamed products of the Immaterium, and that the planet was not, in fact, a daemon world wracked by chaos. Master of the Vox Darrius consulted with the mutant witches and received from them a vision of apocalyptic doom awaiting the planet, but nothing of immediate use to us. Cousin Roland and most of his senior retainers boarded a shuttle with our Master Helmsman and departed to risk a landing leaving me on the bridge and Svenya to root out some troubles that had arisen in the lower decks.

They appeared to slip successfully through the shroud, but two days passed with no word. I presumed they were looking for the Eldar artifact that the Farseer had requested. After two days, however, a larger danger loomed large upon our augur arrays. The immense space hulk that we had previously encountered slipped out of the warp at the very location where the Sovereign of the Void had done some days before. As the Sovereign and the planet itself had moved on somewhat, this hurtling mass of human and alien ships was on a somewhat oblique course that would nevertheless bring it to impact upon the planet’s surface in some five days. I summoned Svenya to the bridge. Upon seeing the situation he, with admirable resolve, took a second landing craft along with some guards and a Tech-Priest, to brave the energy fields himself and bring word of the looming danger to Cousin Roland and his party. Within hours of his departure, the instruments registered a massive explosion at the origin point of the shroud, and the energies vanished from the planet below. Subsequent vox communication revealed the following details of Cousin Roland’s expedition.

It would appear that they flew low over a blasted landscape devoid of oceans, forests, or other ostentatious displays of life. The landscape was dotted by the wreckage of ancient ships, most of which were rusted, useless hulks, but some of which still seemed to have power and automated defenses. The ships they flew over were of Eldar, Human, Stryxix, and Rak’Gol design, although there were doubtless more elsewhere on the world. As they approached the fountainhead of the energy shroud, they saw more and more evidence of former Eldar civilization, although most everything but foundations had been stripped by regular sheet-lightning energies that ravage the surface. They also saw sporadic, sparsely populated human tribes.

As they approached the fountainhead, an immense pillar of blue light erupting from what appeared to be a former Eldar metropolis, they saw a significant gathering of humans, somewhat more than 500, led by a man in red robes bearing a staff with the iconography of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. He was clearly neither a tech-priest nor an astropath, and had likely scavenged both objects. He and his followers did, however, appear to be expecting Cousin Roland, who emerged to much ostentation. It would appear that this “High Priest” named Marduk had foreseen the arrival of the “Herald” of the “Harbinger” of his people’s judgement. Some telepathic interrogation by Darrius and subsequent conversation revealed that the people of the planet live in savage tribal groups, all warring and competing for limited resources, but that the High Priest of the Sky Father and his Acolytes are accorded great respect by all tribes, and most tribes have an embedded acolyte in their midst to guide them spiritually. These five hundred represented six tribes who had heard Marduk’s call and had traveled for more than a week to be there when the “Herald” arrived. Roland made claim to the Herald position and carefully ascertained that they believed that he could judge them worthy, and thus accord them escape from the planet that was their prison before those who were not worthy were wiped out by the Sky Father’s Harbinger of doom.

At this point, of course, the space hulk had not yet appeared, and so the notion that this doom might be literal was not yet known to the shore party. They left the cultists to contemplate their warped faith while they traveled on foot toward the fountain head. They arrived at the only intact edifice of ancient Eldar civilization and discovered the broken webway portal machinery that was responsible for the shroud. Their tampering caused the machinery to explode and drop the shroud just as Svenya was arriving.

What followed was four days of frantic activity. Missionary Tyrian marshaled multiple landing craft to bring Marduk’s acolytes all across the planet giving every tribe a last chance to accept the salvation offered by the “Sky Father” (whom she properly renamed the “Emperor” in the eyes of these primitives). Those who accepted their word were ushered aboard the Sovereign of the Void, where each tribe was taken in by a different ship-clan for crew-integration. Marduk and his acolytes, psykers all, were kept separate with the intention of eventually handing them over to the Scholastia Psykana or the Inquisition. Darrius and a small team excavated the Eldar ruins as best he could and discovered a massive wraithbone statue containing the souls of a score of ancient Eldar. He convinced them to permit him to bring their statue-vessel aboard for eventual delivery to their people.

Cousin Roland and I monitored the progress of the space hulk, devoutly refusing to permit its constant Vox pleas to enter our ears. Eventually, however, our Master of Etherics noticed that the immense crystalline mass, which Svenya theorized was the remains of an ancient Yu’vath capitol ship, was flaking off small crystal shards at a constant rate. Roland and Svenya, rightfully fearing some sort of alien contamination of the system, opted to open fire upon the space hulk with our new nova cannon, obliterating the crystalline ship and breaking the hulk into multiple smaller pieces. When these pieces did, eventually, strike the planet, the damage was therefore far less devastating than it otherwise might have been, although it and the climate changes from the loss of the shroud most likely have ensured the death of all life remaining. The salvage, however, remains there for future claim.

Something about these crystalline shards, however, jolted some realization in Svenya’s mind that prompted him to counsel the quarantine of an artifact brought up from the planet by Roland’s shore party, as well as Marduk and his acolytes. I am not entirely sure why other than that he fears that their minds have been tainted by Yu’vath influence. I bow, of course, to his inquisitorial discretion, although I wonder what difficulties may arise should a psyker as powerful as Marduk realize that his isolation is not so much an opportunity for meditation and reflection as it is an imprisonment. They are currently in the care of Missionary Tyrian, who is the only one aside from Roland, Svenya, and myself permitted to interact with Marduk and his followers.

Cipher Lock Disengaged.

Return to the Void
Ichabarr System / Throne of the Sky Father

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

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: An Overhaul and Refit
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “The Emperor’s Voice Whispers in the Smallest Detail”

We have spent the last month and a half enjoying the fruits or our arrangement with the Inquisition over the matter of Neumos. The Sovereign of the Void has been in dock at the Calveren Naval Shipyards in the Ichabarr system receiving a fairly boggling number of upgrades. The ship’s antiquity meant that there was a lot of unused space, empty decks, unpowered segments, and empty crawlspaces full of the rusting detritus and half-repaired bulkheads of centuries past, some crawling with long-forgotten mutants. Our time in dock has permitted a team of thousands of technicians to overhaul the ship, installing new systems to increase our ability to profit from our endeavors. Amidst the new cargo holds, salvage systems, defensive countermeasures, etc. cousin Roland opted to turn a large segment of little-used space near the Temple-Shrine into a full-fledged arboretum. He arrange the import of pleasant trees, bushes, landscaping, water features, and the rest, at great expense, to be installed under plasteel domes looking out upon the stars. I have spent time in this new park and I find it soothing… certainly more so than the melodium that was also installed. While I enjoy music as much as the next person, having it piped throughout the ship constantly does get a bit aggravating.

A number of personal items were purchased as well. Our armsmaster has a shiny new set of light power armor and our Navigator Primaris has a quite-unusual new weapon of xenos manufacture. Most disconcerting, however, is Astropath Darrius’ new cybernetic eyes. It is clear that his soul-bonding to the Emperor has rendered him utterly incapable of sight, even by artificial means. I gather he had them installed for cosmetic purposes, but as he has not quite figured out how to operate them effectively, it gives him a vaguely leering countenance. I shall have to give him some gentle suggestions on putting people at their ease.

As our upgrades neared completion, Commodore Tyrian and Task Force Litany returned to the Ichabarr system, having been the first group of ships to be rotated out of the Licenian subsector. The Commodore came to dinner aboard the Sovereign where he conveyed the Lord-Sector’s personal gratitude for the service of House Aguirre in recent months, conveyed the formal honor of “Lord-Captain” rank upon cousin Roland, and more importantly, rendered due payment for our services in reconnoitering the subsector for the Battlefleet’s arrival. It seems like so long ago that this task was first given us that it was nearly possible to forget the contract that brought us there in the first place.

After the formal honors were concluded, the Commodore introduced us to his daughter, an attractive young redhead named Noemi Tyrian, who had apparently recently returned from an extensive sojourn at the edges of the Scarus sector as a Sister of the Missionaria Galaxia. The Commodore was well aware that cousin Via had stayed behind on Licenia to aid the former “arch-ecclesiarch” in his ambitions to become Cardinal of the subsector, and more importantly, to aid him and the former Regency in integrating into the proper Imperial faith. Realizing that the Sovereign of the Void may be lacking in a Ship’s Confessor, the Commodore informed cousin Roland that he would take it as a personal favor if Roland were to accept his daughter aboard to serve in that capacity. Missionaries often find common cause with Rogue Traders, and I personally was delighted that all the structure and elaborate schedules of religious services that cousin Via had instituted among the crew would carry on with minimal interruption under the stewardship of another of Via’s order.

I gave the dear girl some time to settle in before approaching her. Underneath the red hair, freckles, and cute, slightly upturned nose there seems to be a fairly cunning mind and I was overall quite pleased with my impressions. I sought to bring her into my confidence by revealing certain matters regarding Svenya and the history of the ship upon which she now serves. While I do not anticipate betrayal from Svenya, it is always best to take precautions, and having a solid ally of a fellow Sister of the Faith is never a bad thing.

I noted she seemed more suspicious than cousin Via of the Adeptus Mechanicus, asking quite penetrating questions as to the extent of that cult’s flock aboard the ship. I think she was somewhat pleased to note the… fervency of our crew’s faith, reinforced by the constant presence of the Emperor’s mercy should they fail in their devotion. I don’t know what issue she may have with the Mechanicus aside from the usual rivalry. She is not highly ranked enough in the Ecclesiarchy to have an active role in the “War of the Empty Cathedrals” played out by the Cardinals of the Ecclesiarchy and Magi of the Mechanicus. Perhaps it’s something personal.

After Missionary Tyrian settled in, we departed for the Licenian subsector once more, aiming to conclude the errand asked of us by the Eldar of Craftworld Aletheia. The journey through the warp was a long one, stretching out some few weeks. Near the end of it we encountered a most disturbing apparition… a fabled space hulk hurtling through the Empyrean. Such things are rarely encountered in the warp itself, and I could see cousin Roland desperately trying to conceive of a way to salvage or profit from it while still warp-bound. We received signals of all sorts, most of them insane gibberish. Of note, amidst the aggregated wreckage, were two capitol ships of the Children of Thorns, a truly antique Battle Cruiser dating from the time of the Horus Heresy, the light cruiser “Serena’s Grace,” a ship of the Adeptus Sororitas, lost in the warp during the Meritech Wars, and an assortment of blasphemous alien ships that seemed to greatly disturb Astropath Darrius, who has made a study of such things.

While I was personally quite interested in the “Serena’s Grace” there did not appear to be any way to dock with the hurtling hulk or salvage anything while still enveloped in the safety of our Gellar field. There was the notion that perhaps research in old records might identify this particular hulk, and perhaps predict when it might emerge from the warp once more and where, but such speculation remains quite tentative at best. We had to, somewhat reluctantly, leave it to continue hurtling through the void.

Through some error of astromancy, we emerged from the warp practically on top of the planet we sought. This is somewhat of a mixed message when it comes to the admittedly significant talents of our Navigator Primaris. She pinpointed a single planet that had not been visited in millenia based on old charts to the point where we were practically on top of it… yet arriving that close was incredibly dangerous. Fortunately Svenya’s piloting skills apply to cruisers as well as shuttles, and the calm demeanor of cousin Roland and our new Ship’s Confessor kept the crew from panicking, and we fled the seething energy fields that have been the deaths of so many other ships.

We are now parked at a safe distance, contemplating this dangerous world while damage-control teams put out plasma fires. The damage appears to be minor. We would have lost more crew if not for the new servitor-reclamation facilities installed aboard the ship. The Enginseer Prime and her people are doubtless quite pleased that such… raw materials… have not gone to waste. Personally, I will say a prayer for the souls of those who have now been given over to the Machine Cult’s graces.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

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.

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


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