Rogue Trader: Series 2 Episode 20: Vendetta and Violence and Vendetta, did we mention Vendetta?
The Fury Interceptor pulls into the sky, its immense speed seems almost crawling now as the daemons overrun the Lord Captain position, tearing and roaring. In the distance a rad storm flares to life. In the moment Victrix’s eyes catches the wisp of matter from the warp beasts form. To attack they have made themselves vulnerable.
The retribution is nigh instant. Xanatov tears his inferno pistol from the tangle of its holster, time seeming to slow to a crawl around him as he ducks under the creatures outstretched claw and unleashes hell. The beast roars back as its chest melts away, spattering ichors. The beast is not done yet though.
Scrambling back in fear, Pandareos hand reaches for the comfort of his bolt pistols. Good honest human engineering pulls lose of the holsters. The first pistol locks loudly as a round jams its intricate mechanisms. With a scream of rage Pandareos drives the second deep into the creatures maw, blasting its jaw away, and sending the creature back to warp whence it came. A frantic laugher breaks lose from the void born, shocked to be still alive.
Stumbling and weak from the warp powers burning out, Victrix raises her left arm, a digi melta weapon concealed within the ring upon her hand. The creatures left arm engulfs in flame, and it squeals in agony, pausing in its tracks. Her stagger of weakness saves her life as the creatures blow moves through the space where she was but moments ago. Lucius is less lucky, his rounds finding nothing but air as the daemon leaps for his throat. Rolling away he evades its mighty blow that leaves a trail of frost where it marks the ground
The abominations realise that their time is short, the emperor has granted bravery to these souls, and they cannot feed on their terror. With the short time they have, they hunger still to milk horror and bloodshed. Xanatov swings his captains baton, striking away the reaching teeth of one, keeping it at bay. The warnings of his power suit alert him to a second, rocks shatter under the immense weight of his power armour and he rolls way to safety. A second inferno pistol blast rakes the newcomer with agony. Blindsided Pandareos only sees the second creatures claws at the last minute, throwing himself away, his flip belt blinks into life ratchetting him away from the raking claws. Rolling to his feet, belasco pistol in hand, Pandareos catches the makeshift aquillas’ chain in his mouth and sights down the pistol “The emperor is my armourer I shall not miss” he growls and blasts the creatures leg from below it. Pulling her stub pistol, Victrix blasts another creature from this world, prayers to the god emperor on her lips. Against such fury and faith the creatures cannot stand. The desert landscape is empty once more, the creatures drawn back to the war
The demonic static that had been blocking them absent now, the vox springs to life with Godwin Blake’s voice “Lord captain, lord captain are your reading me? Lord Captain. My lord this is Saint Druses actual, there is a lander near where you are. Estiban has detected a psychic signal there. We have a fix on their location, they are ten clicks down from you. They are boarding a gun cutter. This is an unparalleled opportunity to intercept them”. Xanatov is wary that it may be a ruse, but Godwin assures him it seems genuine. The Measured Response has been seen in the space above and they are moving to assault.
Victrix and Lucuius teleport back to the ship to oversee the coming battle, Lucius miming a tip of the bat before vanishing into the ether. At request the Indomitable fills the sky with its shells, lending its aid to the battle. From the Fury Marchessa voice shouts “Gentlemen, I’ve got a target on a big bird and void missiles on board, now kindly get your arses on board so I can shoot them down”. Rushing on board Pandareos whispers to Marchessa “We have to know she’s on board, we force ‘em to crash land, and do it up close, we have to know” he does not also say, that he also wishes to steal a certain key from her form, and that may be destroyed in a craft explosion. Marchessa taps her knife “I know all about up close, they’re going to see side of me they don’t know, and I’ll see parts of them they don’t want to show“. From the las cannons Xanatov voxes X “Father Kaustic, give me prayer and I’ll give you the head of a heretic” In response prayers of vengeance fills the airwaves. Shaking the terror of the daemons from his system with a punch of the wall Pandareos smiles at the hymns and says “Aight boys and girls, its game time, ya playing?”. I aint playing for anything but keeps.” Marchessa replies.
The Fury Interceptor corkscrew up into the air, caustic rain pattering off its surface. Within moments the gun cutter is in sight. Pulling above it Pandaroes opens vox communications “Land, seriously just land, and prepare to be boarded”. In response the gun cutter jinxes straight up, its engines protesting and burning out. Taking advantage of the loss of control Pandareos closes in, forcing it to the ground. Everywhere the craft turns the interceptor is waiting. Soon the two crafts fly low over the planets surface.
“Well played lord captain, well played. What do you want from me” comes Parcifals voice over the vox.. ”Your head on a pole” Xanatov answers. ” It will be cold day in the warp before that happens, you may want to beg for mercy now” Parcifal taunts, in seeming defiance of their comparative positions. “You impotent foppish swine. I apologise in advance for ruining your makeup” Xanatov shouts, triumph rising in his voice. The guncutter turns as if to strike, but runs into a hail of lascannon fire directed by Xanatovs capable hands, burning the hull and shaking the craft like a leaf.
At the helm, a blade holds steady as a rock by Pandareos’ neck. Marchessa blank eyes looking over, her hand holding the weapon. With a series of clicks her neck turns painfully and unnaturally, Saynays voice rolls out from her vocal cords. “Land the craft darling, otherwise you and I are going to get reacquainted via this blade”. Cursing inwardly, Pandareos hand slowly reaches for the vox to alert the captain. The blade digs deep into his chest, Marchessa’s body forcing it down with all her weight. Desperately trying to hold the craft steady, Pandareos taunts her, trying to find a chink in her armour “You always did want to ride me, ya just didn’t want to admit it”. “I dunno baby why dont we give it a try” Saynay smiles.
Something unimaginable violates Pandareos mind, for a moment he sees everything, then nothing, trapped in his own head. Smiling through Pandareos eyes, Saynay lifts his bolt pistol and detonates Marchessas skull into a shower of bone fragments and blood. With perverse hunger she fills her mouth with the fragmented meat stuff of Marchessa’s ruined body, chewing on them hungrily.
Xanatov realises something is wrong as the interceptor rises to the air, then peaks and plunges headlong back to the earth, eager for its suicidal embrace. Battering his way through the g force he pulls himself into the cockpit to hear Saynays voice “Lord captain, sire Parcifal says he will see you in hell”. Drawing his baton, the Lord Captain gets to indulge a wish he has had for so very long, battering Pandareos’ head brutally until he collapses unconscious. Pulling the craft out of its dive, he sends void missile after void missile careering after the fleeing guncutter. Chunks blast from the ship as explosion after explosion wrack it to ruin. Turning the guncutter rejoins the fray, to finds Xanatov no match for Saynays piloting skills as she laces the interceptor with autocannon fire. Now it is the Furys turn to collapse once more, plummeting towards the ground in a death dive. Xanatov is wrenched around, Marchessa body bouncing off him as the ground reaches closer and closer. Praying to the emperor that the possession has been broken, Xanatov injects stimms into Pandareos, jerking him awake once more.
Now awake and in agony from broken bones and ruined jaw, Pandareos spits his lifeblood over the screen as he wrenches to action. The ground coming up rapidly, he has but moments to take in the situation and yank the Fury into the air again. Seeing Marchessas body, Pandareos realises he no longer cares about the key Saynay has. She will die. Rolling the craft way from rattling autocannon fire Pandareos flicks the craft directly behind the guncutter. As one void missiles and las cannon fire etches the air. The guncutter can stand no more, consumed in inferno. Two figures however bail from the beleaguered craft, falling towards the ground. Surely they would die from this height, did they not vanish in a hail of green sickly light. Something watches over them.
The battle done, Pandareos has time to realise what resides inside his mouth. Collapsing vomiting he, by default, leaves the piloting to Xanatov, who returns the craft to orbit where a space battle awaits.
Void shields crackle from immense ordinance released by both sides, currently evenly matched. The Fury Interceptor returns to its home, and the arms of the tech priests eager to see to its repairs. Pandareos looks up at Xanatov , rage in his eyes “Send me over there“. Xanatov shakes his head “We are sending over murder servitors”. Pandareos grimaces through the pain “Send me with them then, ya hate me anyway, if I die it’s no loss to you”. Pulling his baton Xanatov says “I can end you now if that’s what you want, I will not have you making a dogs dinner of this battle” before turning away, leaving the vengeance hungry void born alone.
An auger scans the “Vengeance of Saint Druses” prying for sweet meats to unleash their weapons upon. Moments later their weapons strike home, the void shields collapse and the lace battery pocks across the hull, ending the lives of thousands. Xanatov decides, this is where it ends.
Aviner sends binary prayers across the void, recalling signals set long ago. Shreds of noble code still intertwined in the despoiled husk of the ship. The Measured Response Void Shields shut down to Aviners prayers.
The teleportarium flares to life moments later, sending not a man, nor a servitor, but a wonder of the omnissiah. A treaties on the harnessed power of the sun. An atomic. Standing at the view screen, Xanatov raises his fingers and clicks dramatically. A second later the view screen in engulfed in blinding light, as a ripple breaks loose from craft. The craft burns from within. Armour shatters off the hull, all but a lucky few die instantaneously. In but moments the craft is barely more than a hulk.
Xanatov orders Aviner to prepare a salvage team, and then turns to Stern “send over troops in void suits and kill the survivors, I want the highest ranking crew brought to me to deal with personally”. “I’ll find him or her, do you want me to break their legs while I’m at it?” Stern answers.
As Stern prepares to depart, a battered and bloodied Pandareos approaches and greets him through his broken jaw “Seems the Lord Capatain hates me, he ordered me to join you“ he lies “Don’t want to go against the Captain do ye”. Stern is far from fooled, but sees the anger in his eyes “The rage will keep ya going, stay out the way of my men, we need one alive, the rest are yours” he offers. Quietly, Pandareos touches his fingers to Marchessas pistol that lies in his holster.
The crafts move through the quiet of space to the hulk of the Measured Response. The troops inside silent, but eager. Those recruited from Xath quail in terror before the images they see, the horrors that await. The veterans though, the feel the rising fury, the purity of the emperor and the wish to lay his vengeance on those who would turn from him. They offer this gift to the new recruits, the hatred will hold them where their spirit is weak.
The bulkheads breech and the troops swarm the measured response’ ruined corridors, filled with the maddened survivors, rad burnt and dying, they still fight with the fury of men possessed. They die like rats.
Pandareos walks the corridors, his pistols ending the life of all in his way, but he seeks stronger prey, something where he will have to just react, not think. React or die. His bloodlust calls out to something, something that lures him through the corridors to a chapel of sorts. To a mountain of skulls. Blood floats here in the broken gravity, and a monstrous figure, a woman stands over a gutted cadaver, chain axe loose by her side. A woman who once fought on footfall before his eyes. Madness lives here, and madness calls to like.
In battle, Pandareos has always relied on his speed, and now he adds to that his fury. Before that few can stand. De Bataille is on Pandareos in moments, her massive chain axe reaching for him with horrifying speed. As the axe, tears through his void suit, sending him flying into the air, Pandareos realises in speed he is loosing, and in fury?. Behind the gene seed warriors eyes, the fury of madness feeds.
Air spurts from the ruptured suit. Pandareos douses Bataille with round after round that she wades through, unleashing the axe once more. With a roar it bites deep, tearing through his helmet, his eye exploding within its socket from the force. Collapsing, Pandareos tries to move his limbs, but they will not respond. Above the axe rises once more. “Ah did ma best Marchessa” Pandareos thinks as the axe falls. The thought is interrupted as a hail of lasfire sends Bataille stumbling back. Guard after guard leapt into her, pumping fire down into her form. For a moment all is silent. Then the axe roars once more. Then the guards screams start. Then Pandareos loses consciousness.
Xanatov looks at Stern back on the Vengeance “You have a prisoner?”. “You’ll be very happy when you see her” Stern answers. “Very well – Where’s Pandareos?” Stern answers quickly “We found him in some sort of temple, he s alive but seriously injured. He needs medicae attention.”. “When he awakes get him a large drink” Xanatov commands “Oh and have Victrix join me in the interrogation chamber”.
Elsewhere Aviner alters some records, now the heretical device hidden on the craft was officially found in “The Measured Response”. Sealing it openly behind Stasis locks Aviner is glad to have its heretical words away from him. Yet still the lure of its knowledge remains.
The form in the interrogation chamber is barely recognisable as human, burnt charred limbs and barely alive, held in stasis fields. Melissa Saynay herself. “I would have preferred Parcifal, but she will do. Stern see say that your men are rewarded for their bravery” Xanatov comments. Sterns looks serious for a moment ”This was right, what we did here. Sometimes in war you do things you don’t think are right, but that we did there is right”
It is a meagre vengeance, but the Rogue Trader again has come through the fires of adversity intact.
Far from the expanse, under bright lights and the double headed eagle of the aquilla, candles burn. Blood drips, and flies buzz. Blue edged light halos the candles and a rank aroma of pestilence rises.
Eldritch runes are etched, screams rise and fall as the flies gather, their lives snuffed out by candles flames. More come, clumping together with their burnt husks. The mass builds as more and more engulf the flame. From the ruined flesh a form rises. A hand.
More flies dash their lives against the flame, and bones and meat form from their ruin. Within half an hour a skeleton writhes in agony, seeing the world from new eyes. A form is ready. His masters answered one last ritual to keep him safe. Laughter rises from him for one last escape. Sire Parcifal lives.
“I don’t know what your laughing at my dear boy, your agonies have just begun. But first tell me, did you see my beloved Xanatov, did he deliver the killing blow with his own hands?”. The Bishop Of Xothos steps from the darkness, opening the freshly formed jaw with his hands. As he enters this newly formed orifice he speaks. “My boy I am your salvation”.