The Licenian Crusade

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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ardhanari

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