The Licenian Crusade

A New Dawn for Aguirre
Nido de Halcyon

(500 + GE)
(All Players Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Sister Minerva de Liire, Ordo Famulous

Personal Cipher disengaged

Port Echo Investigation
Port Echo

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

Personal Cipher Engaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cipher Lock Disengaged

Port Echo Politics
Port Echo

(600 + GE)
(All Players Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Cipher Disengaged

Meanwhile, on Deck Gray-31...
The Sovereign of the Void

(300 + GE)
(Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Ree, Tyson)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Hidden Mutant Cults
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Kill the Mutant, Burn the Witch”

We have departed Port Echo, and none-too-soon. My cousin wrapped up some loose ends, prepared the groundwork for our people to set up a trade emporium there under the protection of the Mistress of Commerce. He had a last dinner aboard Commodore Tyrian’s flagship, and then, with some ceremony, we entered the void. There was a funeral ceremony for the bodyguard, Udo, who died in service to my cousin aboard the station. I can understand the morale considerations inherent in Svenya’s decisions to honor such deaths, and approve of taking the time and effort to let the crew know that we value their sacrifices on our behalf. Shortly after the ceremony, we entered the Immaterium, and have been sailing for some days through the empyrian currents, guided by the sure hand of our Navigators.

A few days into the warp, our Master of Whispers, augmented by Svenya’s own sources, learned of a formerly sealed deck full of mutants that had become unsealed. Apparently, this deck, dubbed “Gray-31” by the lower ratings based on its location in relation to other decks, had been sealed off for more than a century after some emergency repairs effected by my cousin’s distant predecessor. There were, apparently, crew still trapped inside, and they somehow managed to survive, apparently on warp-irradiated fungus and condensed water from power conduits. Needless to say, the deck could only support a population of about a hundred, and after all those years, every “person” was terribly mutated. The most recent repairs to the ship, however, apparently opened up two egresses from this sealed deck, and these mutants have been furtively poking their noses out of their hole. According to the lower ratings, these mutants had set up a tentative trade, exchanging mind-altering fungi for clean food and water. What drew the attention of my cousin and his staff, however, was word that these mutants were going to hold an auction for five places at a clairvoyant reading done by a trio of mutant “witches.” It was not enough, apparently, for us to have a hundred new mutants for Anton our Twistcatcher to deal with, we also have mutant unsanctioned psykers.

After some investigation, Svenya, cousin Via, and Darrius the Astropath learned that apparently these mutants had developed an aberrant religious philosophy centered on the single half-broken vox-caster in the sealed deck which conveyed the garbled words of the bridge for the last century or more to these benighted souls. They interpreted these magical voices as the “Voices of the Emperor” and their “witches” became interpreters of divine will. As a result, when these mutants emerged from their exile, they saw the squalid quarters of the lower ratings and saw them as paradise, inhabited by uncorrupted “angels.” The voices of the Lord-Captain and his officers were, literally in the heretical minds of these creatures, the voices of the Emperor himself.

Svenya, Darrius, Via and Mr. Garby, infiltrated the auction gathering in the lower decks. The Lord-Captain and our Battle Sister Bast, along with Armsmaster Mandis and a cadre of soldiers, waited nearby in case the mutant enclave needed to be rapidly exterminated. The mutant auctioneer simply waited for the assembled ratings to voice their offer and would indicate acceptance or refusal. It rapidly became clear that the witches required… quite particular objects of “purity.” Svenya got a place at the reading by offering a mastiff puppy. Darrius got a place at the reading by offering up a micro-bead in which could be heard the Lord-Captain’s voice. Three other ratings got seats by offering everything from a rag containing the menstrual blood of a man’s daughter’s first bleeding to a token representing a man’s earliest fond memory.

The witches were, apparently, horrific to behold. They were physically conjoined, determined to be three individuals only by the existence of three heads. The sacrifices of purity were given, the five were seated, and the witches began to sing. The psychic ritual was, apparently, quite potent and nearly drove the lesser participants mad. Svenya and Darrius were made of stronger stuff, and shortly cousin Via arrived in haste, calling upon the divine light of the Emperor to cow all before her. Casting off their disguises, the Lord-Captain and his men moved in, and shortly the witches were surrounded.

In the subsequent discussions, it would appear that my cousin, Lord-Captain Roland de Carvajal, has a merciful streak. He permitted the witches to live, along with their community, albeit relocated to a more secure deck. He extracted from them oaths that, due to their reverence of him as the voice of the Emperor, they gladly gave.

I find myself deeply disturbed that such powerful unsanctioned psykers are living aboard our vessel. The fact that they have been living here for some time does not mitigate the very real possibility that their powerful, untrained minds will bring death and destruction upon us. Darrius has made the best of it, and is apparently willing to teach them certain skills of concentration to minimize the danger, but I find myself for the first time strongly disagreeing with the decisions of my cousin.

He is the Lord-Captain, however, and I will abide by his decision. I just hope his mercy does not doom us all.

Personal Cipher Disengaged

Entering the Licenian Subsector
Catechism, The Hedge

(All Players Present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Initial Discoveries
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Faith is a Shield no Arrow may Pierce"

Thanks to the efficiency and skill of our Navigators, we arrived in the Catechism system in remarkable time. We barely had time to look around, however, before we received a cryptic vox message accompanied by live fire from a nova cannon supported by plasma torpedoes and a laser-broadside from what was likely once a Great Cruiser but is now a stripped down orbital weapons platform for the icy planet of Catechism. The nova cannon, fortunately, missed us but the salvo of torpedoes caused us some damage before my cousin’s charisma, backed by Armsmaster Mandis’ knowledge of the secretive ways of the Adeptus Astartes called off the attack.

It would appear that Catechism has become a fortress world of the Iron Templars, the chapter deemed lost in the original Licenian crusade some seven centuries ago. After convincing the orbital platorms that we were allies, my cousin led a boarding craft onto the platform where they made contact with the controlling entity, who was apparently esconced within the significantly fortified facility upon the planet’s surface. They secured permission to salvage the remains of another ship in the vicinity, the Stygia, a Raider-class vessel sent by Lord-Captain Finn.

We did so and found, to our surprise, a handful of survivors including one of the two Navigators of House Virth who had been aboard. The survivors were segregated but treated well. I believe that cousin Via has plans to use the five surviving crewmen as lessons in the Emperor’s Grace and Mercy, while I believe our Navigator Primaris has plans for the House Virth survivor. Having secured the salvaged ship to the Sovereign of the Void, the time came for cousin Roland and his hand-picked entourage to descend to the frozen planet’s surface.

There they discovered a vast, powerful military installation crewed by a bare handful of the Holy Emperor’s Space Marines. They met with a tech-marine named Didaskolos who was surprised to discover that the warp storms had abated, and that Imperial traffic could once more access the system. Apparently they had no navigators, astropaths, or other psykers available to them to inform them of this fact. Their hair-trigger response to our arrival was explained by the simple fact that every ship that has entered their system for the past seven centuries has been hostile, namely ships in service to “The Regent” who demanded they turn over their facility and weaponry to him.

They were brought to meet the “Elder,” an ancient marine entombed within the life-sustaining mechanisms of a dreadnought. They learned that much of the original forces of the crusade, caught by surprise by the warp storm eruptions, washed up in the placid aegis of the Catechism system. They were trapped in that system for some six years, surviving in an otherwise barren system by placing most of the Imperial Guardsmen and naval crew in cryonic suspension while many of the marines entered hibernation. After those six years, a beacon appeared in the warp. After some discussion, the Crusade moved on toward this mysterious beacon leaving a token crew of Iron Templars behind to man the fall-back position they had established in Catechism. The Elder has not seen any of those individuals since, although the Regent’s ships started appearing shortly thereafter.

Cousin Roland emptied our ship’s holds and lockers of our food, assorted spare parts and repair materials to these noble members of the Astartes, and agreed to take one of them aboard our vessel to transport back to Port Echo and Commodore Tyrian. Although the Iron Templars had little with which to trade, it is well known that the credit of the Emperor’s Chosen is excellent. Our good deed will pay dividends for some time to come.

Our good deed, however, left us dangerous under-supplied for further adventures into the unknown. Cousin Roland decided that returning to Port Echo to resupply and repair was advisable, even though we had barely set food in the subsector. The notion of having done too little, I think, grated on my cousin, though, as he decided to take a “quick side trip” to the Hedge system merely to scout it out and hopefully provide more information to the Lord Sector. He also decided to send word ahead to Port Echo informing Callista Flamel that we have detailed maps of the Wraith Worlds we would sell her for a hefty profit.

Upon entering the Hedge system, however, we noticed two ships of Imperial design engaged in combat with five smaller ships of Xenos origin. Uncle Svenya once again revealed an uncomfortable degree of knowledge as he not only identified the species, but also their likely motivations. They were “Eldar.” The other ships identified themselves as belonging to Rogue Trader Lady-Captain Evelyn Lin, who offered us a fee should we aid them in their engagement. We opted to engage the aliens in protection of our own kind and with some devastating opening salvos crippled one ship, which was finished off by Lin, and destroyed a second ship which had been damaged by Lin. The other three managed to flee closer to the planet whereupon they instantly and mysteriously vanished.

Lady-Captain Lin invited Lord-Captain Roland to dine with her aboard her ship. Apparently negotiations went well, although I have yet to hear details. What I do know is that our Master of Etherics has identified what appears to be a crashed Battle Cruiser near the south pole of the planet, thoroughly overgrown by local flora, and with Lady-Captain Lin’s people crawling all over it. She has staked her claim to this crashed derelict and has granted to us a promise not to interfere in any operations regarding the scattered xenos ruins that dot the planet. Apparently, Lady-Captain Lin prefers to salvage Imperial technology to dabbling in the Cold Trade. I believe my cousin wishes to lead a quick expedition to a particular xenos ruin under the theory that certain technologies there may still be functional, explaining the mysterious appearance and disappearance of the Eldar ships. I shall certainly sit upon the lord-captain’s throne in his absence, and will keep a careful eye out for xenos, but also a careful eye out on our colleague and her two ships.

Personal Cipher Disengaged

Politics Foreign and Domestic
The Hedge / Port Echo

(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.

The Bolder Path
Port Echo / The Hedge

(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

The Regency

(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

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

Negotiation and Obligation
Port Echo / The Webway

(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


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