Rogue Trader: Series 2 Episode 22: Shenanigans of Remorse.
It has been a months journey back to Footfall, and only so short due to the skill of lead navigator Lucius. The journey whilst short was interspersed by acts of attempted murder on the part of the drunk and broken Pandareos, somehow released from the brig that held him, he is repeatedly bundled to the ground mere meters from Saynay’s holding cell, a bolt pistol in hand. In the end to prevent him harming himself he is sedated, ceasing his attempts the throw himself against the bars of his cell that cause him such anguish.
As the sedatives slowly wear off, the Void Master realises that the ship had docked, the movement of the craft beneath his stilled once more. The cell door open, above him stands a mass of muscle and scars that makes up the guard of the brig, After dragging Pandareos to his feet the guard speaks “The Lord Captain wants to see you”. Mumbling through the drugs Pandareos splutters “Aight, do I get my guns back?”. The guard shakes his head in disbelief “you don’t get anything whilst you would disobey the Lord Captains orders”, the guards voice softens a moment in sympathy “If it were up to me I’d put a bolt shell in the witch myself”. Leaning heavily against the guard Pandareos hands fumble for his makeshift aquilla, now bloodstained from where it had been thrust into the eyeball of a guard who had tried to remove it from him. “The emperor is my guide, wouldn’t want to disobey the lord captain would I” he mumbles with mocking laughter.
On the bridge Xanatov and Godwin Blake look over the images of Footfall and discuss what lies before them. The images flicker through floating temples in space and the gun batteries that festoon them, Godwin Blake, somewhat sinister to the eye in his off grey uniform, blends into the background as Lucius approaches. “Ah Lucius, well met, how are you?” greets the Lord captain amicably. ”So far so good” Lucius answers, though his form gives a different answer, bolt pistol chambered and power field glittering around him, eyes wary for potential intrusion. Xanatov misses none of this “Lucius, noting your armament, it almost as if you predicted the task I was about to give you, how prescient of you”. Lucius raises a wary eyebrow to this comment. Continuing Xanatov says “We are awaiting our guest, I need someone I trust with him, he is a fragile state at the moment, He is a simple creature, but he is a highly skilled one, I would see him in peak condition.”.
As if hearing himself described a belligerent Pandareos staggers onto the bridge “Aight, I’m here, do I get my guns back now”. From the darkness shambled as mechanized servant, an arms coffer weighing down its limbs. An evil grin spreads on Pandareos’ face “Nice, so for your second trick will you make the witch appear?” Xanatov’s face darkens “You will forget her, she will meet her end at a slower and more painful way than you could even manage, you will forget her. You are going to Footfall. Lucius will accompany you”. Seeing the “aw shit” look that has claimed Lucius features Xanatov continues “Lucius you have a wealth of information on our next step here. Normally I would send Estiban but he is frail. I would not want to over excite him with the sights of footfall. Pandareos, I need you to do what you do best”. Pandareos grimaces, after his recent encounters with the workers of the warp he has no wish to have one by his side “What I do best, I do best without others to mess it up” he growls. Xanatov shakes his head “I need someone with a sense of restraint for this. I need you to delve into the underworld of footfall, make contact with the scum that lie there and find someone amenable to striking a bargain. I have dealt with the liege, flattering and gifting him, objectionable though he may be, but I need to deal with the others. I cannot go myself, but you, You have a reputation as a liar, a whoremaster, a pirate and someone would be willing to betray me for enough money” Offended Pandareos answer, “Hey, I work hard at that image”. Xanatov smiles thinly “so you do, Lucius, they do not know that you work for us, you both are deniable, that is why I need you to do this. See if you can make contact with the Cas balika mission. Some will read this as our mission to find the dread pearl failed. Some will not be fooled but it may seed enough doubt. We will let them think we failed and let them come to take stock, this should bring the assassins from the woodwork”. “Has anyone suggested shoving out the tin man out and seeing who shoots him” Pandareos mutters before stomping off, he has a score with a brig to settle.
Turning to Lucius the Lord Captain asks “Lucius, do you have anything to add?” “Is there anything I need to be aware of “ Lucius ask with caution. Xanatov replies ”Take care, we need to contact Cas Balika or someone else who can further our aims, I need someone out there who can sense the ruinous powers. Pandareos is merely there as a distraction, Imagine the bird that attacks from the glare of the sun. That is what I need from you. If I could I would do this myself, take what you need, though I think subtlety should be the order of the day. A sledgehammer is a good tool, but today we need the cloak and the rapier”.
Lucius considers “I think I need something, maybe a heavier pistol. Something with more stopping power than a Bolt Pistol”. “More stopping than the holy bolt pistol” Xanatov exclaims with mock astonishment “what were you thinking of?”. “Anything that could burn through armour” Lucius answers. From the depths of his cloathes Xanatov brings out an ancient relic, an inferno pistol “I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve killed in his service with this weapon” With the flick of his wrist he presents the weapon to Lucius “Take it and return it back, it is dear to me”. Silently Lucius matches the lord captains eyes, and nods nigh imperceptibly as he takes the sacred weapon.. Xanatov speaks on “Any more that you need, use your own wit and the black bank account I’ve set up for further acquisitions.”. Lucius smiles “hopefully I will rely more on my ability to blend in. The inferno pistol is just an insurance policy. You know me Lord Captain, I like to have a plan B”. Xanatov continues his sentence on “And a C and D and E, wheels within wheels. By the way, d1 to b5, You may want to check on Pandareos. I don’t want him doing anything too rash.”
Lucius heads out into the gangways, looking for the man known only as “the Player”. The Player, sits, mournful notes emanating from his guitar. ”Why do I get the feeling you are man who needs me to do favour for him” he moans to the watching Lucius. After Lucius explains he needs The Player to talk to Pandareos, The Player answers. “He always was a law unto himself, I can talk to him, we have seen so many people, all have died, we are bound by our loss” Lucius stands silent, a knowing look in his eyes. The Player shrugs You know, if it was up to me I would have planted a bomb in that bitches chamber, the explosion would have been like a star – we have to think of our friend no?. or maybe I get to spend time land side, its been a long time”. Taking this as accepting his request Lucius thanks him as the Player walks away, a sad song following his footsteps.
The song wanders the ship, finding Pandareos, sweat heaving from his brow as he tears at the brig that tormented him, his power sword wrecking that which took his freedom. The Player watches, silent at last until Pandareos collapses exhausted from his exertions. ”What did that door ever do to you” he asks with a smile. “I have a problem with enclosed spaces” Pandareos frowns “By the way Player, thanks for opening the door for me whilst I was in there, pity they were expecting me, got to me before I could put a round in the bitches head” “It could be whatever they do to her is worse than what we can do ese” The Player offers, passing a lodestick. “Yeah, but Marchessa deserves better, it’s a matter of honour now, we don’t leave it to others hands” “Was it worth it?” Player asks, looking at the wreckage.” I’m getting better” Pandareos growls through lodestick smoke “Hey, A large woman, muscled with an axe the size of my head, did she get put down in the ship?” The Player shakes his heard “Didn’t see anyone like that ese”. An evil smile takes to Pandareos’ face “My new playmates still out there. Good” The conversation turns bawdy with tales of conquests and the potential libidos and activities of the Xenos. As the conversation winds down the Players turns serious once more “You want me to come down with you ese?” Pandareos looks into his only surviving friends face “Hey man, you’re a lover not a fighter, besides there’s got to be half the crew you haven’t seduced yet”. Readying his weapons the Void Master prepares to walk this path alone. Well alone apart from one Navigator.
Preparing Pandareos voxes the Lord Capatain “hey why we talking to this Cas balika anyway?”. Xanatov answers “We just need to make contact, the Cas Balaika are dangerous, they are not people to mess with”. Pandareos cuts the com “Are you trying to get me into more trouble Captain” he mutters to the air before opening another channel “Oi, three eyes, where are you?”
Elsewhere on the ship, Lucius is deep in the search for the next clue to the dread pearl co-ordinates. With Colonel Stern he looks through the data, planning routes between jump points, ensuring safe escape paths for after the auction. “ I assume its me your after” he answers, refusing to rise to Pandareos’ insult. “I’m ready to go”. Donning his weapons, and jacket, the Navigator prepares to baby sit the foolhardy maniac.
At the void portal the two meet, confronted by a barrage of pic and vox traffic, selling every pleasure under the sun. The transmissions are blocked within the ship itself so not to tempt the crew, but here they are on full display. Before them Footfall is a powder keg. Xanatovs name is a mud, as a turncoat and traitor, and a sizable bounty is out on the Lord Captain and his senior crew. The crew, on ship lockdown, are restless and baying for shore leave to relieve their woes.
As the bulkheads prepare to open to the asteroids surface Lucius asks if Pandareos has even a shadow of a plan. “Sure” Shrugs Pandareos “Head to a criminal packed area, wait to see who shoots at me, then drag them into an alley and interrogate them” A pic advert offers Dominatrix services, domination and discipline. A bolt shell ends its flickering neon hawking of wares. Looking over his smoking bolt pistol Pandareos smirks “I never was any good at discipline”.
The doors open, and the smell of a million bodies, sweat, blood and incense rolls in, followed by a wall of noise. Welcome to Footfall. Opposite them a nervous scribe and ship underlings cower . “Ah lords, this way, this way, the lord captain said you would be coming incognito” they whisper. Pandaroes blinks confused ”Why would we do something like that? First we look for drink, then we find people who hate me”. The Scribe pales “Erm my lord this is slightly unorthodox, we could find amsec but “ he pauses “They’ve already spotted you. Come with us or we will have to leave”. Following his gaze they see shadowy figures stabbing forwards, puffing on obscura pipes as they step through billowing steam. The Scribe turns to Lucius begging him to make the Void Master see reason. Lucius nods “At this point a quiet drink might be the appropriate course”. Pandareos frowns “We’re trying to get a rep as people who would disobey the lord captain, can’t see a better way to do that than disobeying the lord captain”. Lucius turns to the scribe “Trust me, despite the seeming contradiction, this is Pandareos beings subtle”. Pandareos turns to the huddled crew “Just find me some amsec would you, and get the hell out of line of fire”.
The figures finally close, littered with pressure scars, radiation burns and ruptured blood vessels. They surround the two, closing ranks and preparing evil looking weapons. A slim man in mismatched military uniform steps to the front. He looks the two up and down, before turning to the scribe with barely hidden malice “You there, did you just come from that vessel? Do you wear their insignia?Yes? Good. I represent the Administratum Ecenicum. Your captain avoided docking fees, and causes the death of several hundred of our men”. Interrupting this monologue Pandareos raises his hand politely “Excuse me. That was me. I did that. Hi, I’m Pandareos, how are you?”. The officer turns and swaggers towards Pandareos, drawing a skull tipped cudgel “You know, you are either incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid”. Pandareos shrugs “Aight, I don’t see how they are mutually exclusive”
Without warning the gentleman’s skull cudgel swings down to smash Pandareos’ knee. Surprised then is he, as Pandareos flicks out an auto-pistol and unleashes a shell into the flack covering the mans knee. A giant of flesh and muscle behind him flies backwards, a chunk of his arm blown to pieces as Lucius unleashes a bolt shell into the fray. The crew shocked, rush in to aid their fallen comrade.
Grabbing the scribe Pandareos shoves him behind him “Yer meant to be running my now mate” before turning and running for the nearby alley. Lucius looks from man to man through the sights of his bolt pistol, as he realizes the rest of his crew are fleeing. With a curse he joins them in their flight.
The seeming officer draws his pistol , unleashing round after round into the alley after them. One round catches Pandareos in the shoulder spinning him round, a second takes the scribe through the skull, exploding it. “Aight, now that just wasn’t playing fair” Pandareos mutters as he pulls himself up, drawing his dueling pistol for vengeance.
Running through the billowing steam vents, Lucius slides behind cover and waits. The first of their pursuers through the steam steps forwards to see the empty gaze of a bolt pistol gazing back at him, he tries to run, but the weight of his comrades behind push him ever forwards. Lucius lets fly, but the rounds explode around them, throwing shrapnel into the air. Leaping up onto the gangway above, Pandareos sights down the officer, then whistles to the crowd below. Pointing at his target he lets the weapon loose its rage, tearing the officers leg off and spinning him in the air showering blood everywhere. “Aight, next time when we’re playing nice, don’t escalate” Pandareos shouts. Flipping out his dual auto pistols Pandareos mutters “Hope you don’t have even more family who’s going to annoy me” as he lets a hail of bullets don into the tight corridor.
Down below, Lucius staggers back, sliding under the swinging weight of his assailant. The return swing though knocks him to the ground, unharmed but winded. Again Lucius lets a round free, but flies over his assailants head. Rolling away from the follow up blow, Lucius comes up standing alongside the thug, steam billowing between them. With a look of terror the thug realizes his wild swing has trapped his weapon in the ground. With a laconic gesture Lucius flicks his weapon up and ends the mans life in one explosive moment. Their moral broken, the group break and run before the oncoming storm leaving Lucius and Pandareos alone. Lucius tips his hat to the fleeing crowd the turns to Pandareos “First thing. OW!. Second, where the hell did my ability to aim go. Third: is shooting and running standard plan now?” Pandareos does not hear though, his eyes locked to fallen body, one that now looks like Marchessas ruined form, with a shadowed Saynay standing over. Drawing his bolt pistol he stands shaking as the hallucination unfurls once more. Turning he blinks “huh, oh hey we are here to cause trouble, do that better by leaving people alive to spread the word”. Lucius sighs, this is going to be a very long mission.