Rogue Trader: S2 Ep 14: Apocalypse 40K
Miles away from the coming storm, the gears of the Rogue Trader dynasty are moving, slowly but inexorably. Sire Parcifals moves to find a chink in the armour. As a stock market crash in grey market goods it leaves an important trade route unpopulated. To cover the route, they must extend them beyond the protection of their bodyguard craft, but the risk is low and the profit high.
Somehow, however, a group of pirates are already aware of the unguarded and ore laden craft travelling their area, and swoop upon the open prey. With the trade lines severed, Imperial craft step in with patrols, blocking any chance of smuggling goods and ruining Parcifals efforts.
Light years away, Xanatov and Pandareos hear of the results of the little rumours they spread, and the message is reminded “Do not fuck with a Rogue Trader”
Aviner however find the binary encoded messages of less relief. The requests to construct Data Tombs has been stifled by the return of the crystalline Yuvath craft. The war tearing the sector is coffer draining and long, with no end in sight. For now the heretical technology must remain on the Vengeance of Saint Druses.
That however, is light years away from the storm that comes. This is Kapa Sci 12, alleged home of the Dread Pearl, a system at war.
Eldar vessels skate the cold vacuum with ease, rapidly outpacing the human vessels as they dart for the planet that is their destination. As they fall into place around it, the crafts shimmer and vanish. Some Xeno trick hiding them from honest human eyes. Meanwhile a haloed holographic Basteel continues to bluster threats to all in the system, whilst the Saint Druses moves quietly through the expanse, set silent by Aviner who sits within his domain, unbothered by those far from the machine god. Servitors stalk the walkways of the enginarium, enforcing the ban on non enhanced individuals sullying its sacred ground.
The sides are lining up, Sun Li and Xanatov compare notes on the sides forming. To no ones surprise the thug Baron Scourge has thrown in his weight with the military might of Basteel. Scourges slow but massively armoured craft crawls across the space, demanding that the Axis of the Unwilling stand down and recognise their authority. Parcifal and Krawken are oddly missing from the game, however Charabelle and Able Garret have bonded in impromptu alliance. Such crude lack of subtlety from Basteel infuriates Sun Li, and strengthens Xanatov and her alliance.
Xanatov is hailed with apologies from Charabelle for leaving the battle with the Eldar, claiming damage to the craft as a reason. Unimpressed by her attempt to cover up her position of weakness, Xanatov demands proof she will not run once more, before considering any alliance.
Late to arrive, Jeremiah Blitz enters with a hail of insults to Basteel, and an open announcement “He is open to aid the highest bidder, or whoever could beat him at Regicide”
With a grin Pandaroes hears the message, sure he can convince Blitz to accept a bet for his aid. Looking to Godwin for approval Xanatov nods, then comments to Godwin “C7 to d8, oh and that’s mate”. Considering the move announced Godwin comments ”An elegant stratagem, but you have not taken into account, oh I see. Very clever my lord”. Looking back to the Void Master Xanatov adds “if you get this wrong I’m withdrawing you amsec for a month and giving it to Sterns crew, and yes I know of your secret stash hidden away in the hold”.
As the auger system rises up Pandareos shrugs “Hey I never take any bet I can afford to lose, it makes you sloppy” swigging from his amsec he adds “I’m not banned yet”. On the view screen Jeremiah sits in elaborate silk outfit covered with an ironic collection of medals. Looking over his black mirrored sunglasses he speaks “Ah lord captain Xanatov, and who’s that, do I know you?”. Seeing Blitz trying to remember his face, and knowing the number of Rogue Traders he’s stolen from Pandareos quickly answers “Nay ye don’t know me, like yer style though”. “Do you want my autograph?” “Nah but ye can have mine after this” Laughter breaks out as they discuss a bet between the two. “Listen, I’m the only one likely to beat you to the planet, so what ya say, last one there helps the other against the rest of the Traders, what do ye say?” Pandareos says. “Your craft is lighter that mine” Blitz comments. “Well you could get rid of all the gold on yours” quips Pandareos. “It’s good to keep trophies of your victories” Blitz counters. “My trophies are the broken people I leave beaten in my wake” Laughter breaks out again between the two, as they progress to discussing the charms of Sun Li in crude detail. “well, good to see your not as cold fish as your captain” Blitz remarks as he signs off, the bet now in play.
As the men prepare, and Aviner intones the litanies of the omnisiah to rouse the engines, Xanatov contacts Sun Li to inform her of the changing alliances. “we are in a friendly race with Blitz who has an unseemly interest in you” he says. “I know I was listening “ comes her reply. Xanatov ignores Pandareos choking on amsec at hearing this. Despites Sun Li’s request to intervene Xanatov insists a wish to win fairly, asking only that she watches against the other Traders.
With the view screen stilled Xanatov turns to the spluttering Pandareos “Pandareos, I’d recommend you don’t walk alone near her, there are few people who can kill you, and she is one of them.” Managing a cocky smile Pandareos answers “Stop trying to make me interested in her Lord Captain”.
The race is one of which the result was never in doubt, the engines roaring, the lighter craft and Pandareos touch at the held, the craft roars past Blitz to the accursed planet. The planet however differs much from their shared vision, still a green world, but overrun with thick jungle, and with little of the clear perfect oceans of that sight. There is no doubt; this is not the same world.
Victrix’s eyes snap open in her chamber as a massive psychic backwash rolls across the planet. A vision. Crystalline Bone Temples. Six cowled figures, raising hands to the sky. The warp and reality touch. Responding to the reports the Lord Captain demands “Bomb it from orbit”. ” “How about we go half way and take the bomber and a guncutter” Pandaroes suggest, but as he talks the weather patterns shift, covering the planet in hurricanes and thunder. “Erm, I recon I can still make it” he adds.
Xanatov looks less impressed, slamming his hand down .”damn elder trickery, Aviner can we use the Teleportarium?” Aviner replies it’s possible but dangerous, the warp forces makes it much more unstable. Contemplating the horrors he has been through, the Lord Captain considers there cannot be a full force on the planet, if the Eldar though they could win they would kill all of them to save even one Eldar.
Looking at the rapidly strengthening storm Xanatov points – “we shall strike from the sky. Colonel Stern, cry havoc and deploy your men on the surface, you will give no quarter”. Looking at the planet he adds “This is the location we will drop our forces” pointing at another area of the planet he continues “this area we will saturate with fire to make it think we are landing here, we will bombard a third area to make them think this is where we will land, instead the bomber will clear the landing site”
Explaining his actions Xanatov continues “”I’ve been doing some light reading of the adeptus tactica”. “There are 240 volumes” Godwin exclaims to this. “Yes light reading as I said, now there was a classic tactic of doing a massive bombardment before sending troops to their death, they should hopefully think we are doing that.” Realising the link between the strategy and the Regicide game they play Godwin pales “I think I just realise my move has led into a massive trap”. “Oh yes” Xanatov answers “and so shall they”
“Will the witc….Lady Victrix becoming with us?” asks a nervous Pandareos. Xanatov grins “whilst you fear her, there are things out there that will make you wish she was strapped to your side at all times.“. “I don’t fear her” protests Pandareos, to the Lord Captains amusement.
Running for his bomber, Pandareos raises Marchess and The Player for their aid as co pilots “Problem boss” comes Marchessas voice “Players getting over a bad break up”. “Tell him we can kill things then, in fact he after this he can borrow the Eldar powersword and use it to impress women planet side” Pandareos answers. The Players voice comes out over the speakers “I cannot replace her, she was a unique woman. It would take at least 24 hours to get over her”. About to sign off Pandareos hears a quiet question, “Can I use the void missiles?” With a smile, Pandareos knows he has his crew.
The bombardment initiated, ruining the planet with its destructive forces and breaking magma from its torn core. Xanaov exclaims “to the sounds of our shells they shall know his name, Father Kaustic, a prayer for our soldiers”
Waiting by the crafts Pandareos sends a short message to Charabelle ”So I don’t mind being used, but I like ‘em to say hello in the morning. You’re manipulative, dominating and backstabbing. I respect that, want to meet up after this and compare notes.“ With a grin he thinks he has either earned a fun new enemy or a potential friend – either is good by him
His good mood stills as he realises that no-one apart from himself is capable of safely navigating the storms in the Bulk Haulers carrying the troops. “Some one tell me your good enough to take that down there” he exclaims to a silent crowd. “Great, I have to do it then, Marchessa, Player, you get to have fun with the bomber, whilst I take this heap of junk. I’m the kindest boss ever”. “I thank every day since I met you” comes the Players sarcastic reply. “Just paint it red, I hear it goes faster”. Looking at his bright coloured jacket Pandareos smiles “worked so far for me, right time to go fly boring thing”
The crafts move slowly out into space, all apart from one. Burning above them the Fury Interceptor roars off under the Players command “Aha, I show you how to fly ese” he taunts the fuming Pandareos.
Hurricane force winds toss the haulers around like toys as they descend, white hot from the pressure upon them. Through the chaos Pandareos keeps four of them in line ,heading for a gap in the winds. The last miles are free fall as the engines give out under the strain, but still they come down safely, but far from the temple. Cursing as they bail out Panareos shouts to the Tech Priest “Aight tin man, get the Lord Captain on the vox” A screech of binary answers, until the priest sees Pandareos’ bemusement. “Apologies, I did not realise you do not speak binary. Connection initiating”
Above in the Saint Druses the Lord Captain listens, garbed in his power armour, as garbled transmissions of agony, screaming and hollow alien laughter fills the coms. With a steady voice he asks “Mr Blake – the origin of that transmission, is there anything worth saving?” The view screen shows the guardsmen firing wildly as blue light tears their bodies apart. ”Commander of the guns, flatter the area around those guardsmen” he orders “It will take time to move the aim” comes the reply. Looking at the dispersed landings of the troops he orders “Protect the troops with bombardment as soon as you are ready, I shall take the rest of the troops to the planet personally. Prepare the teleportarium, I don’t care about the risks”
As Aviner oversees the rites of activation Xanatov turns to Stern “Are you to kill a lot of xenos filth” seeing the calm smiles answering him he adds “I like you already, you are very calm about it – Aviner, you have the ship”. Pausing from his work Aviner intones “I will return it in the same condition, if not better Lord Captain”. “Better I hope” answers Xanatov “Very well, I will need to augment a further ten percent of the crew” muses Aviner. “Never mind then” mutters Xanatov.
As the teleportation starts, the auguries screech in horror as the warp writhes, corrupting the young machines ways. With binary pulses of luminen charge, Aviner calms its machine spirit with energy prayers. Calmed the machine pushes through the Xenos interference delivering its human cargo efficiently to the surface
As they arrive from the screaming warp back to the steaming jungle below, a targeting reticule drops over the Lord Captains eye. Under its steely gaze the jungle falls away to reveal an insection horror descending upon them, poison dripping from its mandibles. The planet itself wants them dead it seems.
Miles away, Pandareos and the troops slog through the jungle, heading for the co-ordinates they have received from above. Screams come from all directions “The jungles come alive and has taken her” and distant snaps of gunfire. “Move to the interceptor” barks an unusually terse Pandareos “We can’t afford to wait for everything that try to kill us or we will be here all day.”
Ahead a figure in scorched armour lies, begging for help. Kneeling with the duelling pistol ready, Pandareos indicates for a trooper to advance whilst he covers. The poor fool manages barely a step before an eruption of steel blades shreds him and drops his limp form to the ground. “The heck with this” lifting the duelling pistol the Void Master puts a bolt through the guards head and shouts for the troops to head onwards. As he turns to leave the voice speaks again “Help me”. Looking back, he sees the still ruined head, as the voice continues “Help me”. “I’m too inquisitive for my own good” Pandaroes mutters before running after the departing guards
The progress is slow, and soon they are lost deep within the jungle when a massive buzzing thing drops from above them, tearing left and right with its limbs, shredding troops like they were nothing. With lighting reflexes Pandareos places a bolt directly into its heart. His joy is short lived as the enraged beast leaps upon him, tearing through his armour as if it was nothing. The guardsmen pummel it with fire, burning and cauterising its every limb until eventually it falls.
A battered Pandareos pulls himself out “Who put the shot out who saved my life” he shouts.” Seeing the young guardsmen who answers he smiles “I’ll try to get some extra thrones into your wages son”. As the guard goes to thank him, a red dot shimmers upon his forehead. Leaping forwards Pandareos drags him to the ground as a hail of fire swarms overhead. Screams echo from the woods, a single skinned body hangs from the tree, found by a guard who fled from the conflict.
As things calm, Pandareos puts his arm around the deserter “Don’t worry mate, got someone for you to talk to, don’t panic, I’m sure the emperors going to be very merciful”. The poor guard is dragged to his knees in from of the commissar, who draws his bolt pistol and unleashes a single round into the guards head, granting him the emperors mercy. “Hate doing that” mutters Pandareos “course last time I picked the other choice and everyone died, not that we’re doing much better now.”
Back near the temple Xanatov shouts for volley fire as the beast descends upon them. Bringing his Sun rifle to his shoulder he smoothly pulls the trigger, unleashing its built up energy in a cascade of light. Like a thousand refracted solar flares it vaporises the creature where it stands, melting it ash in the wind. Turning to the troops he asks “So, any of you manage to get a round off?. As he speaks the trees beyond him collapses creaking from the devastation unleashed. “To the temple!” he commands.
Lost deep within the Jungle Pandaroes is overjoyed as the Fury interceptor arrives overhead, aided by triangulation from Blitz’s ship above. As a rope descends for him to climb Pandareos waves at the kid who saved him before “Hey kid, you go up first, get you out of this killzone”. As the two climb out of the muggy jungle, Pandaroes becomes aware of movement above, a light shower of blood cascades upon him, a figure barely seen in the trees lifts the child solder upon his blades then drops his carcass to the ground.
As the Xenos filth lets lose with its weapons the enraged Void Born drops backwards gripping the rope with is legs as he draws twin bolt pistols “Ah was trying to be nice” he roars as the pistols speak. As the firing dies down both are too fast and too well protected to be harmed. Realising what is happening, the Player lifts the Fury away from the combat zone, lifting Pandareos with it as a gunfight breaks out below.
The alien temple finally lies before Xanatov, an image to make any feel insignificant, as if standing before a creation of gods. Signals run through his coms, alerting him of the actions in the skies above.
Basteels bluster again fills the channels, demanding that all stand down, or they will be met on the battlefield. Cutting in Xanatov answers “Basteel you doddering old fool, my men have shed blood on this planet, I claim this planet in the emperors name in the only way that matters. If you dispute meet me in person and I will dispatch you as I have killed many enemies”. “I will face you army to army. I am the challenged, I pick the territory” comes the reply.
The comms hum with a burst of incoming messages “You coward, If you declare war on Xanatov you declare war on me “ Sun Li declares. “You really think you can pick a fight with my lord captain” Scourge mocks on hearing that. Blitz joins in “You know what, for such an ugly guy, you talk a lot, lets say I even the odds, I like the underdog.” Another voice adds to the chorus, Able Garret “I have learned from your history you have no honour, that you would stand up to such servants of the emperor. I am a notable duels man, and to see your cowardice when challenged disgusts me” A final voice joins – Charlebelle “The lord captain intervened on my behalf, and I fled, and I sought to take advantage, now I make it up to him – we will not let you besmirch his name”. Above the skies are ready to war.
On the surface of the planet, Xanatov readies the flag of the Dynasty and stabs it to the ground “Now we didn’t come all this way to stop at the entrance did we lads” he shouts as they storm forwards to the temple.
Something is wrong however, electric discharges around their feet. Psychic energy folds loose, shaking the ground and driving Xanatov to bitter unconsciousness before its force. Lost in a vision he sees a cold night sky, a vista of the void, a blazing star blinding before him, a single orb passed in front of its harsh glare. The moon shatters, its shards falling upon each planet. The shards are the room they see, lost across space and time but linked by fate.
As he comes to, balefire flickers across the structure surrounding ghostly figures that step forth
Eldar Warlocks are here.