40K Rogue Trader: Series 2 Episode 4: Sins Of The Past: Remember Where You Are
The moment had come, putting past nightmares to the background for a moment, the crew of the Saint Druses instead face the “polite” society that comes with the richest of criminals and low lifes. Little of the Rogue Traders inner circle however are comfortable with the rituals and peacock displays of the formal event. Sente especially chafes under the restrictions she faces, a life surviving the underhives prepares you little for the rigmarole this party brings. Despite Victixs aid the former ganger is noticeable ill at ease in the restrictive formal wear she now suffers within.
Xanatov, in full formal armour, and battle marked cloak recognises easily the same unease in the grizzled veteran Gabrial, garbed in a mix of Commissars and Navel formal outfit, he still would be happier facing an army of mutants than what is to come. His release is at hand though through the machinations of the Seneschal Godwin Blake, barely recognisable under the hideous disguise of a forsaken mutant and trader of gossip. It seems another wild card has entered the equation, an vessel claiming to be “Measured Response” has docked, conflicting id tags and obvious covered pirate marking combined with having seemingly come from the expanse would make it one to watch, but closer examination has found that it is actually from the Colexis sector, looping round to give the impression of coming from the wild expanse. This crafts true identity is hidden under so many lies that it is doubtful even its owner knows the truth. Unwilling to leave the ship without any high command in such times, Xanatov hands the Lord Captains Baton to a pleased Gabriel, it seems he must, alas, stay upon the ship with a bottle of fine amsec.
Before they depart Aviner presents Sente with the gifts he has prepared over the past weeks. The weight of heavy ammunition and the wonders of the force rod are not enough to make Sente fully at ease, but allows a brief moment of union before they face the hated high society together.
The group head grudgingly out into the hollowed out rock and cavernous expanses that comprise Footfall, through the broken shanty towns that litter the planets winding tunnels. Now amongst the miles high statues of every Rogue Trader that has come through Footfall a new face has been added, if one lacking in detail, a significant amount of Poetic License has been taken with the construction of the Statue of Xanatov, now joining the others in gazing in adoration on the statue of the Lord Emperor. At the statues feet, smalls shrines have sprung up of the Drusians, hoping to be closer to the new prophet of Saint Druses.
Eventually the shanty town gives way to gaudy guarded communities, shallow and tasteless displays of excess litter the route as they reach their destination. The entrance to the event is delayed momentarily by the petty bureaucracy of the brightly uniformed guards, who pester the acknowledged to be expected group for their invite. After presenting the data slate Xanatov, frown and expresses “whilst you’re at it, you may want to stop those people who have snuck past you while you were bothering us”. Like hyenas the guards leap upon those who tried to sneak through, beating them to the ground and coldly executing them with las shots, much to Aviners distaste.
If the display outside was tasteless, the event itself is a glut of self aggrandising displays of excessive wealth over taste. Under the blazing light of the red star that floods in through a massive view screen walks innumerable mechanically enhanced courtesans and slaves carrying every sweetmeat, truffle and drink imaginable, the wondrous and the excrement laid upon the same plate, as if by sheer number they can overcome their ignorance. Music of attempted technocratic ballads and tragic opera mix with many others, in renditions that tear the soul from the music they try to duplicate. Under this modern day Gomorrah, drug traders, pimps, slavers and pirates and more walk in comfortable familiarity.
Amongst these sights walks one of the worst of the worst, a mangled brute clothed in grey robes known as “The Proviser”, surrounded by his slaves his trade entails. Xanatovs look of pure hatred is cut off as a thin scarecrow like man in a Cardinals robes who bundles into his line of sight, blatantly drunk and extolling the virtue of abstinence as his leering smile wanders the room. This Preacher Uwains attempts to butter up the Lord Captain are hastily cut short by the intercession of Vladain Tochara, who wished to protect his investment. As Uwain retreats Tochara makes a throat slitting gesture that is hard to mistake. Xanatov politely comments that he will judge who he speaks to, not Tochara. Tochara says “I will spare you from those who would waste your time” but the Lord Captain is adamant.
Glancing back at The Proviser, Xanatov whispers to Sente “Have you ever met anyone you instantly hate?”. “Yes” she replies “I put bullets in them. He looks like underhive slaver I once met. I took a razor to balls. Then again looks like someone already has with this one, or maybe he did it to himself”
Wandering over to her fellow sufferer in this place, Aviner, Sente playfully slaps his rear with a resounding clang then grabs her stinging hand. ”Ouch, that was a tad harder than I expected. Have you been working out?”. Jokes aside, she mills into the crowd, glad of the concealed weapon below her formal dress.
In the centre of the gathering a large figure reveals himself, laughing loudly from his Vox caster whilst surrounded by servitors and machine like concubines. It seems Tanthus Moross, the self professed liege of footfall, and figurehead of the criminal organization has revealed himself. Xanatov looks with disgust and turns to Aviner ”Shoot me in head if I’m like that”. Aviner nods, and enquires with what weapon and how many times. As Aviner starts to note this down on a data slate Xanatov adds “that wasn’t an order Aviner”.
As Xanatov moves on Aviner find himself surrounded by Tech fetishist who gaze longingly at the enhancements to his form. Whilst perturbed by their excited forms and obvious will to act upon that excitement, not to mention the sacrilegious approach they have to self enhancement, Aviner suffers their attentions to try and ascertain where these groups are enhanced, so to be able to potential recruits before they are corrupted.
A late comer enters, four identically dressed individuals, hair tied back, and their faces covered with immaculate masquerade masks. One figure breaks off and approaches Xanatov. Staring at the mask, Xanatov realises why it seems so similar – it is the same style as the group he assassinated back on Malfie before this all started. Shocked out of his reverie, he faces the figure as it bows mockingly before him. The name comes back to him “Sire Parcifal”, along with the realisation – this man is a surviving relative of Seigmund and thus rightful inheritor of the warrant of trade he holds.
Taking the moment of surprise to his advantage Parcifal speaks quietly “Why Xanatov, so now I know your name, it’s been so long since we last met. The Bishop sends his regards, though it seems you have been a naughty naughty boy and he longs to correct your behaviour” He pauses a moment before continuing, a note of anger on his prior pallid voice “So, Xanatov, Lord Captain or Kinslayer. Know this, I am not here for the Bishops end, I am here for vengeance, you killed a good man and grand cousin”
“Don’t think I’m so foolish to came alone though, I brought myself some hirelings and a few people who so very much want to met Aviner and his love bird. By the way, has Victrix heard anything from her family members since she ran away?” The voice becomes almost gloating as it continues
“There’s a young lady who wishes to reacquaint herself with Pandareos, a Maelissa Saynay. Of course she didn’t use that name” With this comes a wash of half remembered tales of the Saynay family – Once pillars of Malfie nobility, before descending into cannibalism and chaos worship. The legends tell tales of their taste for noble flesh and the flesh of those who did them wrong. “One more thing, your erstwhile employers from the bountiful beast, the Durai family, have come around to our way of thinking. You have overstepped your bounds and are to be brought back in chains. We are going to have our way with you and we will make you like it” Anger flushes in Xanatov cheeks, but before he can react he is cut off “Now, now, remember where you are”
Xanatov speaks out, harsh despite its low volume, rage evident. “listen to me you piece of scum and the Bishop through you. You have no idea what your dealing with now, you made a mistake letting me out of here on my own. You think you know us? A lot can happen in eight years. So take time on what you think you know and take your drinks and wine, for I will be clear headed when I gut you with my bare hands” Parcifal rises inflamed with rage but is cut off by a taunting Xanatov “Now, now, remember where you are”
Enraged Parcifal storms out, causing the party to fall momentarily quiet. “This party seems to be too high class for him” quips Xanatov to the silent air.
Sente approached and mutters “Shall I end him?” “No, no. Not now”. As Aviner and Victrix assemble, Xanatov explains what he has just heard, leaving out however, his connection to the Bountiful Beast. “They are enemies from the past, come now we are clad in riches”.
Aviner realises the group mentioned are likely be a group of Hive Nobles from the Hive world on which he grew up, A world that had been engulfed by civil war due to Aviner and Sente’s actions. Sente speaks out over the silence, speaking of what they would face. The hive nobles who would come down to hunt, who would kill the young and the old, leaving their corpses for all to see, who would prey at the edges until a gang turned on its own, and then in the end would come for the scared broken rabble and tear them to shreds for fun. But no-one ever took her gang, at the first sign they became the hunters, turning fear upon those who would hunt them.
Aviner answers wearily, worn at the death he know was to come. It was inevitable but he feared that he knew but sadness at what was ahead. Sente explodes angrily, “I am here,I am here and you will not fear. Many will die, but more will die if we do not”. “I know” came the reply “but I wish I could say otherwise”. Xanatov closed the conversation , with the intent that has been spoken before “We will kill them , those they associate with, we will erase them from history”
A female voice breaks the conversation ”Why Lord Captain, you are not someone I would wish to get on the wrong side of, in the Bedchamber or otherwise”., The shocked group turn to see an amazingly beautiful lady surrounded by Power Armoured figures -the rogue trader Sun Li. After a moment of exchanged formalities, Victrix and Li turn to testing one another’s wit and knowledge, with pointed comments on shared contacts, and haiku exchanged laden with hidden meanings. The two women smile as they find each other worthy contestants in the great game.
The final feast starts, with the drunken and the foolish disappeared from sight. Tachara shows the rogue traders to the head of the table, in front of the figurehead lord Tanthus Moross. After looking over and ignoring a menu filled with items that range from unpalatable to potentially lethal they are introduced to a dishevelled Rogue Trader, Jeremiah Blitz who greets them in a friendly and flirtatious manner and tries to get them to indulge in some card games, Aviner declines stating he only plays games with a 96.5% chance of winning. “What a coincidence, so do I” beams the roguish trader. It seems the gold plated craft seen before is his, much to his embarrassment – he won it and his writ of trade in a bet.
Still yet nothing has been spoken on the forthcoming auction. With time growing short Xanatov realises that those who order the more dangerous items on the menu are being approached by some flunkies with information. With a wary expression he orders a group of sharp broken shelled creatures and consumes them as watchers cheer on. As the last shard goes down, blood rises painfully as something burns within. Holding back a grimace he wipes a speck of blood from his lips and tries to ignore the bleeding within. Much is learnt but not yet enough. Resigned Aviner sits and orders the most dangerous thing on the menu, a warp eel. Liquidised and injected directly into him, his fingers dig grooves into the table as the warp energy rushes through him. Internal mechanisms break into overdrive trying to flush his system of the taint before they mutate his weak flesh. And the flesh is weak, but the machines are not, before an astonished crowd Aviner sits unharmed.
The night ends with much learned. Only the ten best bidders will even earn a place in the final auction, an auction for a foretelling by the feared Warp Witches of Footfall at the obsidian emporium. The bid is tomorrow, the foretelling the night after, and whatever is told could change the fate of a dynasty.
All that remains is to ties up the loose ends, Tanthus Moross tries to bid for Aviners services as a Tech Priest, which are neither accepted nor denies, but left open as a scheme to purify the tech worship of this bloated figure slowly forms in Aviners mind.
Xanatov informs a confused Pandareos of the Maelissa Saynay who wishes him dead. Bemused the Void Born shrugs and declares “I never heard of her, I did know a Melissa once…” his voice trails away as his hand clasps the key necklace beneath his armour and his memory returns to the nightmares of nights before ”no it couldn’t be…” Casting the thought aside he smiles again, but with an uneasy shiver at the base of his spine that no amount of amsec will shift.
And thus there just remains what to bid, for mere money would not be enough, and thoughts turn to the forgotten artefacts in the ship, to the remnants of the Eldar who were on board, to the gates and soulstones.
Oh yes there is something to bid.