(700 + GE)
(Julie, Kevin, Matt, Miguel, Tyson)
Personal Cipher Engaged
Subject: Inquisitorial Politics
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “No matter how high we rise, we remain pawns”
Lord-Captain Roland and his entourage returned to the ship from Neumos. Apparently their efforts to apprehend Hiram Vain were unsuccessful. They spoke to him within the psychic world-mind of the planet, and were convinced that the threat he represents is relatively small compared to other, pressing issues. I’m unsure if, in fact, this was the true reasoning or if they merely could not discover a way to bring the here-tek to justice without the interference of the immense Dark Age artifact, but the end result is the same. It is somewhat mollifying to realize that Inquisitor Steendahl and his own agents similarly failed. Cousin Roland invited the Inquisitor to dinner to speak on the subject.
It became clear over dinner that Neumos is a veritable font of ancient and powerful information. It was wise of us to hand it over to the Inquisition. Among the ancient truths discovered was the origin of Julius Zora, known for centuries in the Licenian subsector merely as “The Consul.”
Apparently the Consul is the result of ancient genetic fabrication, an artificially created infant, tied psychically to Neumos, and preserved in stasis, smuggled off the planet in times unimaginably long ago, when the first ark ships fled Neumos, ultimately settling on Licenia and founding the Republic. The original intent was, apparently, to use the child as a psychic link to the collective wisdom of their forebears once the planet regained it sanity. Apparently over the last 30,000 years or so the infant in the ancient stasis pod achieved a sort of religious status, and when the most recent warp storms emerged, the burgeoning Licenian Heresy activated the pod and awoke him. He has no knowledge of his connection to Neumos, millenia of warp storms have effectively severed the psychic link. It is anticipated, however, that once his compulsive questing for his origins brings him into contact with the planet, he will once again serve as a living conduit to the world-mind.
Cousin Roland pointed out that he had given the Consul his word that should he uncover information about his origins, that information would be forthcoming. Roland intends to keep his word, the question is how to manage the aftermath. Inquisitor Steendahl was most eager to take the matter in hand, rightly pointing out that the Consul is a walking heresy collection, and to let him walk free, with the power of Neumos behind him, and a chapter of loyal Adeptus Astartes, as well as the alliance of an Eldar craftworld… well… without Inquisition oversight he would be a significant threat and would have to be put down.
It was decided that we would arrange a conclave at Craftworld Aletheia where we would sell to the Eldar the data crystals recovered from the Children of Thorns vessel, but also use it as a neutral location to meet the Consul, introduce him to the Inquisitor, and reveal what we know.
As almost a passing remark, Steendahl mentioned that his fellow Inquisitor, Syrah Distaff, was interested in a private conversation. Cousin Roland opted to meet her the next morning for breakfast.
The proposition she brought not only flabbergasted me with its audacity, but stunned me with how it was constructed politically. She proposed that Cousin Roland and his vessel attack a secret prison facility owned by another Inquisitor, there to break out a prisoner to be used, by her, as a political weapon against the aforementioned rival. This proposal, on the face of it, is ridiculous and all right-thinking Rogue Traders would shun it.
But that’s not how she presented it. She pointed to Inquisitor Vallenti’s pet demon, she spoke of a long-suppressed heretical faction within the Inquisition called the Phaenonites who believed in melding daemons with technology and using the resulting daemon engines for great personal power to fight the Imperium’s enemies. She made the clear connection that Vallenti, as an Ordo Malleus Inquisitor with an unusually-powerful daemonhost at his disposal, had no rational reason to be interested in Neumos unless he planned to do something with both daemon and planet-machine. She pointed out that even if her suspicions were incorrect, the daemon’s proximity to the planet was a threat, even if Vallenti was merely stupid or incompetent rather than actively malevolent.
She acknowledged that, as an Istvaanian, Cousin Roland had little enough reason to trust her at her word, but with everything she said, I could see the chains tightening around my pious cousin. Despite his distrust of Distaff, despite his suspicions, he could not see a reasonable way to refuse her request, and could not help but recognize that of all the possible individuals she could hire, him and his ship were clearly the optimal agents for this job.
The job, of course, was to rescue Markov, the psyker who actually bound the daemon, from Vallenti’s secret prison asteroid. Apparently, after Markov told the daemon to obey Vallenti, Vallenti had him locked in a stasis vault and hidden away. Distaff claimed she wanted Markov back, wanted him to revoke those commands, and then she claimed a desire to hand the daemon over to more rational members of the Ordo Malleus while her own political machinations within the Inquisition brought scrutiny to bear against Vallenti. She claimed that she had already seeded the necessary suspicion, but that the other Inquisitors, used to the habits and their comfortable ruts, would need something to nudge them to action.
I could not help but admire how she snared us. Cousin Roland and his agents were present when Markov bound the Radiant King into the body of the Licenian Regent. They transported both parties (along with Distaff, who was a passenger at the time) to the Inquisition. They are one of the few independent actors permitted in Neumos’ system. They include a known agent of Steendahl, in Svenya, so even if the mission goes terribly awry, Steendahl takes the blame, not her… it was beautifully constructed.
And so, to my chagrin but grudging acceptance, we flew off to do battle with the servants of an Inquisitor.
Fortunately, despite the temptation to use force upon the station, and upon Vallenti’s Interrogator, one Astrid Flamel; despite Flamel’s obvious daemon-weapon and the fact that the whole facility was practically filthy with cultists and sorcerers and other prisoners better off as stellar debris, Roland engaged in diplomacy and actually convinced Flamel to surrender herself and her station to us.
This has provided the additional complication of putting her daemon weapon in Svenya’s hands, and leaving this prison without its oversight, or its astropaths, but our plan is to rapidly transport Markov to Distaff to conclude this matter so that the Inquisition can sort out its own politics and we can make our rendezvous with the Consul.