Rogue Trader:40K: S2:Ep2: Feints and Foreplay
The great vessel, the Vengeance of Saint Druses leaves a long shadow over the settlements at Footfall, its structure covered in miles of reinforcing girders as innumerable figures move across its skin healing its metallic wounds. Inside its nurturing womb Aviner gently caresses his latest acquisition, a wonder of lost ages. An antiquated force field – utilitarian in design and nigh impervious to any markings, its clean undecorated nature an unsettling counterpoint to the baroque designs of current day, yet its superiority of design and effectiveness cannot be disputed.
Upon footfall, Xanatov enters the chambers of a hidden auction of questionable goods, an invite sent from shadowy parties who seek to gain his favour. Within heretics and open mutated worshippers of ruinous powers are cut down by a glistening weapon of Xeno origins as demonstration of its power. Caught in rapt attention , Xanatov ensures that the Xenos artifact is his by the biddings end.
Amongst the drinking holes of those who have survived too many battles and seen too much to remain sober Gabriel seeks out his old comrades in arms, seeking to find skilled arms for the ship. Whilst he returns with 100 Imperial Guard Sentinel walkers for the bowels of the ship, he also brings the news that his old comrades have been taken to something called Zone 17, whilst little information is available, it must very important to have so may required for it.
Xanatovs return to the bow of the Vengeance is bittersweet at it seems someone has been undercutting the repairs to the craft, crew members have disappeared, and industrial accidents are all too common. It takes little prying for Xanatov to find that the black Brotherhood are playing their hand for the insults given to them. These actions are unusual, not for the sabotage, but for the fact that they try to hide it at all. Whilst Xanatov is disappointed that they have such little grasp of protocol to strike at him, he at least appreciates they respect him enough to do so with fear for the repercussions.
Worse news is to come, Godwin, the head of intelligence, has been made by a team upon the planet of Footfall, a team of Inquisition agent it seems, sent to investigate the Rogue Trader and his retinue. Also from Astropath Victrix’ messages It seems that back in the Calexis Sector the Bishop of Xothos has been playing many a game, spreading his power and taking charge of the dynasty in his prodigies absence. He has managed to convince most of the innocence of the Rogue Trader in the assassination attempt on members of Adeptus Mechanicus, though the Adeptus themselves are far from convinced – sending as they are a group to try and apprehend the heretic Paracelsus, and the Traders crew on charges of assisting the heretic. Whilst The Bishops acts seem to help, Xanatov knows his character well enough to distrust anything that may expand his power. It seems the inquisition is here to possibly null the trade compact of the Rogue Trader, weakening the dynasty massively.
With an trusted emissary from the Bishop on his way to find and congratulate the (unknown to them) deceased Rogue Trader Sigmund, it seems that a harsh deadline has been set, their ship, trade and existence are at risk of being snatched from them, leaving them stuck to barren earth. The game is on.
So starts the turning of wheels within wheels. The inquisitors are comparatively out of their depth. Believing keep your friends close and your enemies closer, Xanatov starts motions to have opportunities for the Inquisition to find opportunities the infiltrate the craft as hired underlings, thus giving opportunity to feed false information back, and turn the agents to their own ends.
Second comes meeting with the criminals who arranged for the auctions If they are to get information from the imperium they will need the wide range of contacts the criminals can bring to the table. Under holographic hashish haze the shadowy figures meet, Xanatov and an immaculately dressed pale figure, whose understated air belies the danger he poses to any who wrongs him. In veiled words and half spoken promises, they weave trade compacts of Xenos goods and other heretical profits. But it is the final promise that will change the future of the entire crew, Ladain Macaro, as his name is, speaks of a wish for “Halo Star” artifacts, well known to Xanatov as the malign creations that preserved the life of the crystalline Seigmund and Martek. With laughing ease Xanatov promises to bring not one but two of these accursed devices, knowing that the ruined crystal planet will have many more than that. In return Ladain is near overcome, promising a wealth of repairs and additions to the Vengeance, Drop Pods, Plasma Cannon and other such wonders, as well as promising to halt the Black Brotherhoods attacks upon the Trader. If fact ongoing aid, and invites to a coming feast, where further contacts may be made are promised. Before Xanatov leaves he finds one more useful piece of information – The head of this group has a fetish for being cybernetic enhanced, an interest that Aviner as a Tech Priest may be able to take advantage of. Pleased with the days dealings Xanatov thanks him and returns to the ship with an encoded signet ring for further communications.
Back on the Vengeance Aviner floats in what appears to be a liquid torture chamber as machines perform an autopsy on his living body, replacing weak flesh with pure machinery. In this environment he passes polite conversation with Victrix, asking for the Astropaths’ advice in how to find a device to aid Sente with her growing Psychic abilities. On the side lay half complete custom bolter rounds specifically designed to take down machines and Tech Priests, his gift for Sente in case he loses his mind once more.
As Aviner recovers from the operation a nervous message comes across from Gabriel, asking if Aviner has approved any alterations to the Vengeance. After Aviner replies negative, Gabriel adds. “I think you should come to the bridge to see this” Upon the bridges vista viewing panel bounce the vacuum worn castrated corpses of those who had threatened Pandareos before, numbers of the holy litany of Saint Druses etched into their chest, shackled to one another in death. Xanatov smiles happily as he explains how the upgrades, and protection come from the criminal gang he has been dealing with. Concerned Gabriel asks what they are paying for such rich reward. Silence fills the room as Xanatov answers “Two Halo devices”.
The silence is finally broken by Aviners enquiry “Is this one of those jokes I never get?”. Gabriel’s incredulous response is far less polite as both remember the horrors they have just come through to escape those who bore the devices. Pausing Xanatov mutters “oops” as the weight of what he agreed finally sinks in. With his usual cunning a solution is quickly found “ Martek is still alive, I never said that we would give them one unbonded” Seeing the crew is still not mollified he adds, “Besides we need something to feed to the inquisition, I think a group owning two halo devices should be more than enough to please them, especially if they think they came from the Bishop of Xothos”. Frowning Aviner finally aggress, but only if the incoming tech is checked by himself for bugs and explosives, just in case the group is less than happy with being double crossed.
There is little time to debate however as a Servitor chimes up, Cannon Innocent the Third, trusted servant of the Bishop of Xothos approaches, and wishes to meet the Lord Captain…..Sigmund! Quickly putting together an honour guard to meet him, the group try to claim that the Lord Captain is indisposed, but the Clergyman will not be swayed, muttering “Don’t tell me the Captains an effeminate licklespit with a perchance for little boys”. As Innocent interrogates the honour guard on their services to the destruction of heretics Xanatov arranges for Bishop Caustic to perform a reading and a bonfire of recidivists and heretics. Whilst Innocent watches this display Xanatov comes to a desperate play, there is one who could impersonate the old Lord Captain.
And so Innocent walks into the feast hall in all its glory, to be greeted by the sign of the Lord Captain, in a drunken stupour, a mechanical servitor on its knees below the table, head bobbing up and down on the apparent Lord Captains lap. Looking up from his drunken stupor, the entoxicated figure asks, “Im sorry, whos this”? Enraged Innocent storms in at this debauched sight. “Canon Innocent” replies Xanatov. “Oh” replies the apparent Lord Captain. “Is he here to give me blowjob?”
As the debauchery increases Innocent unslings his flamerthrower and faces the “Lord Captain ”I will not be broken by you, The Bishop sent me here to get me out of his way, but I will not be party to such perversion”. Realising that Innocent is not one of Bishops lackeys, but actually a thorn in his side, sent to these far reaches to be rid of him, Xanatov steps in quickly talking the Cannon down before he uses the flamer on Pandareos (for the “Lord Captain” is none other than the roguish pirate Pandareos). As tempers calm, Pandareos asks for forgiveness for the insults to the priest, kissing the a aquilla. With this new ally at their side, they are now finally ready to strike out, and to inject a cancer into the heart of the Bishops empire, to reach out and pull out his black heart.