Rogue Trader: Intermission 10: Now I Hear The Laughter

(Note: This takes place in one of the rare quiet moments near the end of

Rogue Trader: Now I Hear The Laughter

A thousand strong chanted as the missionaries walked amongst them, filling the crew with holy fire. In the darkened pulpits a figure sat. Whilst he was nowhere near as able to blend into crowds as the lord captain, he managed to get by. Everyone knew who he was, but without his bright jacket or distinctive duelling pistol, and cloaked in shadow he was being very obviously discreet, and no one wanted to annoy the official Void Master of the craft by recognising him when he was so very obviously discreet, that way lay duties in cleaning out the macro cannons from the inside between shots.

With eyes closed he let the waves of hatred of the Xenos, the call to purifying flame, the love of the emperor wash over him, and his mind wandered, called back to times before, before the Vengeance of the Saint Druses, before even freedom.

“Turn the proscribed valve four times in memory of the Emperors four sacred strikes, crouch below the ships released breath in the empe..THRONING PIECE OF XENOS RELEASE”

Clutching his blistering hand, the young frame of Pandareos continued its rapid collapse to the ground as the ship released the steam overflow in billowing clouds scant millimetres from where his head had been just a moment ago. Wrapping a damp cloth around his protesting hand before plunging it back into the maelstrom, the young void born grasped once more the boiling valve, wrenching it into position and ceasing the steams angry display.

“Ahight, jobs a good un” Around the ships underdecks thousands of scurrying figures completing their sacred ritual, the proscribed tasks handed down hourly from the sacred lands above. As the final piece fell into place Pandareos could feel the ship shifting below him. In a few moments the gravity would fail for a moment as the power vented elsewhere. Grinning widely, Pandareos turned his eyes again to the small crack in the decks above, light shining through like the emperors glow itself into the darkened hulls.

Who knows? Maybe it was, the holy prayers that echoed whilst the emperors benediction was lowered to them spoke that holy Terra was a planet impossibly far away, and to Pandareos’ experience nothing was further, nor more impossible to reach than the legendary overdecks. At some point he would have to find out what the heck a planet was.

As if summoned by his thoughts the prayers filled the underdeck, a sign that their devotions were not in vain, and the emperor had granted them repast to sustain their forms for another day. It also marked the gravity’s failure. Without a moments hesitation Pandareos threw his form to the open air, trusting to the emperors grace to keep him aloft, fingers reaching for purchase in the crack to the golden heavens above.

For a moment it seemed this would be the day he found freedom, pain blossoming as his wrapped hand grasped the jagged edges, feeling the agony as metal lanced through his fingers and he tried to drag himself up to the hole. Gravity returned all too soon, dragging his body with it back down several floors to the ground with a sickening thump.

Spitting blood he checked his body for injuries, and despite bruises and contusions found himself remarkably uninjured. With a grasp of his makeshift aquila he smiled and offered thanks to the emperor for his protection once more.

The effort had made him late for the rations however, lowered from the lands above with the glory of trumpets and hymn declaring their arrival. Scavengers and hoarders scrambled across them already, and the screams of those had fought for their meal and lost echoed before they were set upon by their less faithful companions.

The smaller figures like Pandareos could take advantage of the tunnels riddling this place to avoid the worst of the predators, but of recent days the tunnels had gained their own dangers. A weeping figure huddled on the ground was all Pandareos needed to see to know Valex was on the prowl. Grasping through the grates he quickly stole his prize of sustenance before turning for the safety as the rafters.

He knew better than to turn when he heard the boy whimper once more, but he knew even better not to fight when a scarred hand lay its grasp upon his shoulder. Valex’s leering scarred face smiled hungrily at him from inches away.”Ullo Pancess the princess” Valex’s other hand shifted, adjusting his engorged member. “Looks like you got summat of mine princess”.

Pandareos and Valex had been around long enough to know what the engorged organ Valex clasped was intended for. Pandareos also knew that Valex had long ago decided it worked much better as a weapon. Kill a man and you had to kill another the next day, break a man, and tomorrow everyone gave up the food without a fight. Without a word Pandareos pressed the food into Valex’s hand. “Clever boy”. As Pandareos fled the scene, Valex turned once more to his whimpering captive.

Another day another leap, gravity failing momentarily, heaven again in reach. Scrabbling desperately, feet fighting for purchase on the walls, and then through the widened hole his eyes saw heaven. Massive chains pulling open hull doors larger than any he had ever imagined, and beyond a vast nothingness filled with fires and spheres of colour and life. Lost in the moment he froze with wonder, until gravity came back once more, tearing him to the ground yet again, his body weight tearing another chunk of the heavens down with him. Lying gasping for breath once more, he examined his prize torn from heaven. A twisted jagged chunk of metal, nigh identical to any found down here, but this one came from the lands above. Coughing painfully, Pandareos slipped his prize into his belt as he returned, having failed once more, into the underdecks.

Pandaroes lips moved, quietly echoing the hymns as the food lowered once more from the skies, the heavens he had now glimpsed, their reward for dutiful behaviour. Again the scramble started, this time eschewing the tunnels for an open sprint for food before the predators arrived. Grasping some tinned goods before fleeing back for the safety of the darkness, but safety was not to be found today either.

“Not learning, are you princess?” Caught in the open, Pandareos froze, turning to find the muscled bulk of his tormentor. “Be a good boy then, hand it over”. Nowhere to escape, no one would lift a finger to aid, but his were the eyes that has seen heaven.

“Valex” Pandareos paused, mouth dry with fear “Do yer worst, like the Xenos ya dad dropped his britches for the day ye were made”

Silence echoed in the hall for a moment as the scavengers turned to watch this unexpected piece of theatre dropped into their short violent lives. Valex’s roar of rage echoed, eclipsing the sound of Pandareos skull as he smashed it against the unyielding metal floor. A second blow crashed down, spilling bright red blood down over the Pandareos’ tattered grey garments.

Content that his prey would not escape, Valex shifted, loosening his weapon once more before the watching crowd, then dragged Pandaroes up with one hand. To the confusion of those watching Valex froze, pale sweat dripping from his face as his body riddled with shakes and collapsed backwards.

Standing Pandareos grasped his metal chunk of the heavens, now stained red to the hand, their two weapons of flesh and metal had met, and Valex flesh had been found wanting.

Before the watching eyes, Pandareos lifted the metal tin, shaking in his hand “ Ya wanted this? Ahight” He had learnt the lesson well, forcing the tin whole deep into Valex’s moaning maw, and holding it, watching Valex’s pleading eyes, as he choked and spluttered, vomit rising and spilling around the tin as his body soiled itself trying to breath.

Pulling the soiled tin from the broken figures mouth Pandareos heard echoes, laughter ringing around the decks, and knew the sound to be his own. What he had learnt, too far is nowhere near far enough. Looking from watching eye to watching eye, he lifted the soiled tin, tearing it open with his jagged chunk of metal and spooning the contents with his bare fingers, dripping the vomit stained food into his lips, and chewed. “Shows over, play again tomorrow”.

Laying his weight on the foot over Valex’s ruined member to receive a groan of agony he smiled, laughing once more. Kill a man, and you just have to kill another tomorrow. Make him hate you, and you can kill him a bit more inside for every day of his life.

Another day, another gravity shift, another leap to the heavens, another change to reach the emperors grace. His fingers gripped and

“Void Master Pandareos?” Pandareos’ head snapped up to the deacon greeting him, a wince on his lips at being identified “Yes Father?”.”Pandareos, the sermon has ended” Pandareos glanced around the empty room. “I’m sorry Father” he grinned “I was lost in prayer”.


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