“Sins And Secrets”
Hi again. Welcome to our ongoing Rogue Trader campaign, following the erstwhile crew of the ship ‘Seraph’.
The smoke hadn’t cleared from the Plasma Convergence Chamber before the riot suppression crews moved in to secure both the chambers and their rebellious occupants. Judgement had been swift. Those who had surrendered following Lord Captain Stross’ offer of leniency were swiftly rounded up and placed within the ships brig. The seven who survived open mutiny faced an altogether more terrible fate. Guided away by the robed acolytes of the Mechanicum, who’s servant they had so wronged, the survivors were taken to the ‘conversion chamber’ and, following an agonising process, were turned into mindless servitors, doomed to aid the the rest of their crewmates forever. So do the officers of the Seraph deal with mutineers…
It was during the middle watch, those hours between the false midnight and 0400hrs aboard ship, several days later, that Kiara decided it was the optimum time for the Seraph to drop back into real space and check coordinates. Relaying her request to Enginseer Mardonius, who was taking the Lord Captain’s place during the night watch, the Seraph made preparations to translate out of the warp. The ship exited the immaterium on the edge of an ancient, uninhabited system deep in the Expanse.Using the arcane practices known only to those sanctioned mutants of the Navigator Houses, Kiara began her calculations. Mardonius ordered a full sensor sweep of the system, designated LV426, and was surprised when the augurs picked up a faint, almost unreadable signal from deep in the system. Curiosity piqued and having some time to kill, Mardonius ordered the Seraph deeper in to investigate.
It was so very ancient, launched into the great unknown thousands of years before the keel of the Seraph was laid. So very ancient and yet, still very active. Scans and research eventually uncovered the details: a Mechanicum probe of unknown(?) design and purpose(?). Mardonius quickly read through the full data scans and realised the probes potential worth; a vast treasure house of data and ancient technology long lost to the Mechanicus! The second officer, Synna Lucaris, agreed with Mardonius’s assessment; the probe should be brought aboard if safe and if the crew were able to do so.
Working feverishly, Mardonius and his Mechanicus bretheren scoured the ships archives still further, using the scraps of data that they found to cobble together an ancient code-cypher. Transmitting it to the probe they first managed to communicate with it and second, asked the ancient device’s core cogitator to enter hibernation mode. Dutifully, the probe slept as the Seraph crew brought it aboard, housing it in the ships cramped cargo bay. Mardonius ordered a small team of Tech-Priests to begin studying the probe at once. Who knew what the craft had seen in its millennia long voyage? Only time would tell as Kiara completed her calculations and the Seraph moved to the systems jump point and reentered the nightmare realm of the empyrean.
Days passed and a palpable feeling of excitement was rising in the crew and it’s officers, all of them could sense that their journey was almost at an end. The voyage should have taken much longer than it had but, thanks to Kiara’s skill, they had travelled the warp much quicker than expected and now, with klaxons wailing and the crew stood to, the Seraph tore it’s way back into the Universe…
But something was wrong. The system they entered did not look at all like the one in their vision. There was no sign of that bright, dread pearl, only an ancient sun and an empty system. Empty, save for a single planet in the systems habitable zone, and six vessels of unknown provenance heading straight towards the cruiser! The crew, already prepared, quickly came to full readiness as augurs identified the ramshackle vessels: Stryxis, a roguish, untrustworthy race, known for their habit of trading items for what others would call junk. Although unlikely to be a threat, the crew remained on their guard as a hail was recieved from the lead vessel, the hooded, vaguely bovine biped that appeared in the light of the holo-display wished, it seemed, to trade.
Against Synnas better judgement, a trading party was assembled and transferred to the Stryxis ship by shuttle. Once aboard it seemed the foul smelling vessel was even more unkempt and ramshackle than it appeared from the outside. From the shadows came a snuffling and grunting as one of the hooded aliens steped into view. Pawing covetously (yes, covetously) at one of the myriad of charms that festooned the passageways and chambers of the craft, the creature greeted the ‘Honoured Bipeds’ and asked if they had anything to trade.
What should have been a simple trading opportunity was severley hampered by the crews innate distrust of the alien. It offered several items of use although it seemed to have no concept of the value of the Imperial technology it held,asking, in return for items considered of little worth by the Seraph’s crew. The alien also gave the crew a little information about the system in which they found themselves. The single planet was owned by ‘Those who are hated’, a reference, the crew surmised, to the Eldar race, despised and feared by the Stryxis. The planet was dangerous, the merchant warned, filled with deadly life forms and trackless forests but, at it’s heart, ancient structures that may reveal some information. Even this did little to assuage the Explorers mistrust and the negotiations stretched on for some time.
Just as progress seemed to have been made, alarms sounded throughout the ship and the alien trader looked around in obvious distress. At the same moment, a message reached them from the Seraph, faint returns from long range augurs had detected an unknown ship on the edge of the system. Seeming certain that this was the dreaded Eldar, the alien demanded that the explorers leave, and very quickly. The trading vessel began to grind and moan, obviously preparing to leave hastily, whether the Explorers had left or not! Hurrying to their shuttle (with some quick pilfering by Seth), the trading party headed back to their ship as the Stryxis, at full power, ran for the system jump point. Of the vessel that had caused the aliens such distress, there was no sign.
The Explorers met hurriedly to decide a course of action. It was clear that they were the first to arrive in the system but that their competitors and rivals were not far behind. A quick descent to the planet surface to seek further answers was required. Each of those who had witnesesd the foretelling knew with certainty that something of import lay on that green/blue orb and so a landing party was assembled consisting of the Explorers and twenty armsmen, some insurance against any other groups they may run into. Boarding the Seraph’s guncutter, the Explorers dropped planetward on a contrail of fire.
As the cutter descended, engines screaming, the atmosphere of the world, so serene and still from space, suddenly became a raging vortex of storms and howling winds. Kiara and her copilot struggled valiantly but to no avail, all sense of direction was lost, along with any impression of control. Only the herculean efforts of the (co) pilot saved the explorers from certain death and the craft came down hard, killing an armsman and rendering several of the crew insensible, Lord Captain Stross included! Almost as soon as the guncutter came to rest, it’s hatches blew and the Catachan boys were out, weapons ready and senses alert. Barking orders to the armsmen, Seth and Klous quickly set up a perimeter around the stricken craft, whilst the rest of the crew tended to the wounded.
They had come to rest, it seemed, on the edge of a vast swamp, surrounded on all sides by dark, impenetrable fern forests. The air was filled with insects and sweat sprung out on their brows and backs instantly. The two Arch-Militants smiled; it was almost like home! Mardonius and Kiara examined their crashed ship. It would take days to repair, time they just didn’t have. They decided to leave half of the armsmen behind to care for the injured whilst the rest moved quickly on in an attempt to discover the structures spoken of by the Stryxis and picked up faintly on their augur sweeps. No sooner had the decision been made when the buzzing of insects intensified and, at the edge of the fern forest, a huge winged shape came into view, a Dragon Hornet! Easily the size of an Aquila Lander the beast was heading straight for the wreck of their own vessel. Quickly taking charge, Synna and Mardonius gave orders to move the injured and unconsious away from the crash site and into the forest, hopefully they would not attract the creatures attention further. If they could evade it, so much the better.
It was a good plan that lasted all of five seconds. Firing at extreme range, Seth Bergman hit the Clade with an impressive rifle shot that did nothing EXCEPT attract it’s attention. The beast changed direction, homing in on the direction from which the shot had come. Well hidden by skill and camouflage, Seth was almost invisible at that distance, his armsmen, however were not. Seeing the giant insect approach they began to fire wildly, the whole clearing echoing to the sound of buzzing and automatic gunfire.
Seeing his brother in danger, Klous took action. Waiting until the Hornet was passing overhead, the brave Catachan primed his entire set of grenades and hurled them upwards at the creature, the belt landing squarely on its back. He dived for cover as they detonated and then looked around, expecting to see the creature in pieces. He frowned when he saw that the beast was almost entirely unscathed, although the blast had forced it to land abrubtly. Unfortunately, as quick as it was in the air, it was even faster on the ground. Bolt shells and autogun rounds bounced harmlessly from its exoskeleton as it charged into the Imperials and straight at Seth!
Seth took aim, the giant insect mere meters away. He knew this was his only chance, a miss would see him dead, crushed beneath its giant bulk. Centering his crosshairs on its head he breathed out, held his breath for a split second and fired. The creatures momentum carried it towards him, water and mud cresting in a wave as it slid to a halt mere inches from him, a neat, perfect bullet hole in it’s chitinous exoskeleton. As it twiched and spasmed its last, Seth stood and cooly reloaded, one boot placed squarely on the giant insects head…