Rogue Trader:S2 E 25: Happy Birthday to Urgh or UMIES, STOMP STOMP STOMP
Down on the surface of Footfall, the statue of the god emperor still lists slowly, Scourges broadside having ravaged its surface. The culprits’ ship, “The Hammer Of Truth” flees into the orbit of footfall, the “Vengeance of Saint Drusus” hot in pursuit. The surface of Footfall is a mess of skirmishes and guerilla war as the inflamed Drusians and cults of the god emperor vent their wrath at this injustice, against them followers of the ruinous powers raise, emboldened by the destruction of the Emperors gaze. Returned to her ship, Sun Li gazes out at the conflict that will soon come.
The Hammer Of Truth is barely moving, labouring its way through space. Within the Vengeance the crew rush to positions. Lucius pores over the navigation charts in the quiet, trying to divine a fortuitous route. Aviner chants mechanical litanies in the cathedral engine room, teasing more fury from the engine. At the helm a drunken Pandareos chants vulgar space shanties as he orders the ships journey. On one wide sweep he tears the vengeance from its plotted route smashing it through an asteroid and leaving rubble in its wake. Lucius’ angry voice comes over the vox “What the hell are you doing?”. Furious the Lord Captain demands Pandaroes confined to quarters and forced to consume the entire contents of the recaf supplies. Dragged to his quarters by the stoic Gabriel, Pandaeos refuses to be contained once more, slipping free and losing Gabriel in the labyrinthine depths of the ship. On hearing of the Void Masters escape, Xanatov shakes his head, furious. Turning his anger to the task at hand he shouts to the crew “Advance!”. The ship however is in confusion, split between anger and ignorance the orders fail to reach their intended ears, and the ship stills within that dark wastes of space. Scourge has escaped.
With dark moods dominant, the ship turns back to Footfall. The hours pass slowly, when suddenly Xanatovs eyes flicker to an off reading on the augery. The build up plasma drives and charging weapons. Scourge is right behind them. Klaxons burst to life, the call to void shields goes unanswered as the energy vents elsewhere. Without the void shields the craft is a sitting duck as the Mars Patten macro batteries pock the hull of the ship, rupturing the surface and spilling the crew into space. The crew is decimated instantly, one in every ten lost to a single salvo. Worse still the augers are shattered, the eyes of the craft plucked out.
Down in the enginarium, Aviner identifies the reason for the shields failure. Though the explanation makes little more sense then the problem. A crude fermentation tanks sits nestled in the power conduits, pumping a vile liquid out that evaporates into the air. On the verge of exploding, the tank is quarantined, but Aviner cannot bring himself to turn this mystery off, as there is no way that it should work by any logic he can bring to bear. Thus quarantined he redirects the power flow. To a thousand thankful prayers the void shields come back online.
On the bridge Xanatov acknowledges this strange report, but can dedicate no more time to it. Colossal rents in the armour spill atmosphere to the void, servitors spark across the bridge as their systems fail. Scourges voice speaks on the vox. “ Well well lord captain, we find ourselves here again facing one another. This is where we will find out who is the true scion of the god emperor and who is the impudent pup. So, will you surrender now?”. Angry Xanatov shouts for someone to trace that vox signal, to find where Scourge hides beyond their blinded eyes. To Xanatovs astonishment the drunken Pandaroes staggers back onto the bridge and collapses in his seat “Don’t be angry lord Captain” He says “technically I’m obeying your orders, we need to be alive for you to punish me”. With clinical calm Lucius grasps onto the only chance they have, his rock steady voice reads out co-ordinates, leading them blind through the void. At the helm Pandareos guides the craft with the luck of the fool, swinging the ship away from the coming broadside. Through a miracle they survive, tottering the ship perilously close to the gravity wells that would doom them, but somehow the emperor watches over them.
Victrix tries to lock onto the minds of their adversary to guide their arms, but the death screams of the crew are too much, a shield against her plans. Thus on just the information of a single vox Xanatov aims into the dark. In the dark Scourges crew burn in agony as the ships weapons find their mark. On Scourges ship the vox bursts to life with Pandaroes voice “Ya must think ya were mighty clever in blindin’ us, but frankly I been drinking all evening’. I can’t see a damn thing anyway”. The ships shakes again, as rounds bounce off its hull, the impact lessened by the desperate manoeuvres taken.
In between the salvos, Aviner leads a small team of tech priests out across the surface of the ship, desperate repairs bringing the augers back online though perfect adherence to the emergency rites. As the augers spring back to life they see Scourges craft nestled behind the cover of asteroids. Drawing the ship around, Lucius guides the Lord Captains aim but Pandareos cannot bring them around the cover in time. Instead the asteroid shatters from the world shaking munition that is expended upon it. Swinging around once more Pandareos says to Lucius “If ye do this well, I take back half the bad things I said about you”.
They do not have time though as Scourge responds once more, the first salvo stilling the ship, the second crippling it utterly. Power, life support, all fails as the crew burn. Gravity fails, the geller field falls. Near nothing stands as round upon round turns the ship into a nigh hulk once more. The curse of the ship proves once more, claiming the crews life in mass sacrifice.
In the darkness that follows, but one member of the crew finds joy in what has happened. Pandareos realises with the power down, Saynay will have been freed from her stasis cage. In the darkness he tries to slip away, marchessa’s bolt pistol in hand, ready to settle old debts. As he slinks away Xanatov speaks to him “I don’t care what happens to her now, blast her out into space if you wish”. Grinning the laughing void born replies “Well, only if you order it Lord Captain”.
Xanatov returns to vox to make a gambit against desperate odds “Well done Scourge, but you just cost yourself the location of the Dread pearl. I will take it to the grave with me”. Scourge answers, something hidden deep in his voice “Lord Captain, your ship is a lifeless tomb, your crew are suffocating to death as we speak. The only think that stops me boarding and killing everything in the ship until I get to you and pull the secrets from your mind is the code of conduct that binds us together”. Xanatov smiles “The secrets are in the Eldars crystals, without them it vanishes from your memories. Board and I will shatter it”. Scourge laughs at this bluff “Stand by and prepare to be boarded. When my regiment is done with you I will take the Drusus and sell you back to your beloved dark Eldars clutches”.
Somewhere in the forgotten bays of the ship a green skinned brute works away, unaware of what has caused the devastation to the ship. Hitting ‘fings brutally wit’ hammers and bellowing it brings back a semblance of gravity to some of the ship. In the carcass ridden ruins of the corridors of the ship, Aviner floats to the ground once more. Confused but unwilling to overlook this piece of luck he pushes through the melted husks in his quest to bring life back to the crippled machine spirits. With his skeleton crew of surviving tech priests he tolls tirelessly until air and power rush through the ship once more. The hull shakes once more, signifying the boardings commencement. With a sigh at the violence to come Aviner raises the vox to Sente “My love, please do not enjoy yourself so much that you fail to come back to me”. The reply is the sound of chambers racking and light lips touching the guns lovingly “Is it me, or is someone trying to burgle the house” she says with indecent joy. Around the ship the scant crew ready, Lucius runs through the corridors to scoop up his stolen second bolt pistol, Whilst Xanatov meets with Gabriel to head the counter attack.
Somehow in his travels Pandareos finds himself an impromptu rallying point against the invaders. His followers cooks with cleavers and scribes with knifes. The motley doomed and the damned. In the centre a brightly coloured Pandareos laughs, drunken and possibly mad. The crew looks at him, scared at this madman in their ranks. Stern readies them, tempering the madness. In his commissars peaked cap and readied powersword he is the reason to match the fury“Aright there lad. Are ready for them lads? lets give em hell”.
The walls burn with melta charges and cutting tools, when the walls finally fall the invaders are met with a wave of savagery beyond any they expected. For a while it looks like the defenders may even win, battling the attackers back to their home. For a while. Eventually the numbers game comes the fore, hundreds, thousands pour into the breech and the defenders slowly die before the meat grinder. Eventually even Pandareos has to concede the loosing battle, falling back and dropping breech heads to slow their rush. He holds but one area though without fail. The area where Saynay is kept, he shall not miss his chance to match fury with his risen foe.
Victrix knows the danger of Saynay more than any other on this ship. Alone she stands against a wave of attackers, her force weapon burning their very souls from their wretched bodies. She feels the madness and nightmares rising, this cursed ship feeds on the death and dying, but more than that their imprisoned guest feeds too. A snapshot flashes in her mind, Saynays burnt form, her flesh re-knitting, revelling in the carnage. Calling her indomitable will around her armouring her soul, knowing her connection to the god emperor will keep her pure, she strides forth, ready to face this deadly foe.
Elsewhere the green behemoth pauses in his work, his ears picking up. Battle is near. Its giant hand clasps around a massive axe, lifting it effortlessly. A small green thing capers near it “Boss, Boss. Told you there was a good fight”. The beast grunts “You! Needs me some ammo”. The scampering thing says “yes,yes boss, ammo for shooting” before scarping ff, returning with a pile of ammo laden in its tiny arms.
Alone now, Pandareos stalks the corridors for his prey. As he watches the walls pucker and bloom into thick black fungal growths, and the temperature drops sharply. Horrid sigils and runes form from the wall spelling out atrocities and eye burning blasphemies Something horrible has woken on the saint drusus. Soul wrecking horror reaches out and encases the void born, bleeding into his soul with the knowledge that everything here wishes to violate him in impossible ways.
Shivering, but still firm, Pandareos readies Marchessas gun. The one he seeks is near. As if to confirm his suspicions Saynay steps forth from the horror, naked but for an aura of warpfire “Hello baby, I’m home”. Bolt pistol nestled in his hand Pandareos smiles through the fear “You have no idea how much I’ve been looking forwards to this”. Saynay just smiles and says “Kill Yourself”. Pandareos fights as his arm starts rising of its own volition, sweat drips from his brow as he resist the urge that overrides him, with final snap he turns his shaking hand away, a defiant grin locked tight on his face. “How very interesting” Saynay says “You can resist me, hurts doesn’t it?”. Bringing the gun back to bear, Pandareos realise that his drug enraptured mind was the only thing that kept him from ending himself. Still shaking he says “Heh, and everyone told me drugs were bad for me. Listen girl, I got someone else to play with now, I don’t need you any more”and unleashes the bolt pistols wrath.
Saynay throws herself to the side, lashing out with her mind, stripping Pandareos sense from him, leaving him defenceless. As Pandareos collapses in the sense deprived bubble he finds himself in, she draws forth a knife and gets ready to carve.
Victrix turns the corner to find Saynay bring the knife slowly down around Panadreos crotch with evil joy in her eyes. Matching her gaze with her own empty eyes, Victrix steps forwards, Force weapon blazing with her faith and swings to end this abomination.
Saynay again slips away from the blow and the two lock quickly into a trade of strike and evasion, testing each other defences. Saynay splatters Pandareos spilt blood in the air as a feint before plunging the knife deep into Victrix armour. Victrix returning blow crushes the wall as Saynay again leaps aside. As the traded blows intensify Victrix voice bellows litanies of hate against the heretic. In a final desperate move Saynay throws her consciousness into the prone Pandaroes, now lost in vomiting and fear as the void washes over him.
Suddenly lightning quick once more, the possessed Pandareos snaps his hand up once more, snapping a round towards Victrix. Seeing her chance, Victrix dives forwards under the shot, plunging her Force Blade deep into Saynay’s vacant shell. Lighting arcs as their two wills fight, but there is no doubt of the victor. Saynays would be death scream cuts off as her body folds into nothingness. Something intervened once more to save its poor doomed pawn. Free once more, Pandareos shuffles back into the corner. Saynay has gone from his mind, but left echoes of all those who have died by Pandareos side or at his hand. Lost in a cacophony of accusing voices he clutches his makeshift aquilla for hope, unaware of Victrix standing triumphant.
Unaware of all this, the green behemoth stomps forward alone on the ship. The first fun of the day shows itself, invaders, gathering together women and children, executing them in cold blood. The green thing looks to the weapons and smiles revealing its giant tusks. One of the men turns and stares slack jawed at the giant muscled brute descending smiling towards him “Er, lads you might want to look at this. Lads? LADS!”. The beast bellows in joy “UMIES!” and unloads its shooter in a deafening volley. All but the shouting man fall, wounded or dead as bullets riddle their guts. Standing alone the now panicking man screams “FUCKING SHOOT IT” and fires wildly.
On the ground a grot runs to an injured man, slitting his throat and jumping with glee “ere, boss, ere boss. I stick one of em. Hehehehehhehe” The monster looks down and grunts “gizza stick” and snatches a crude grenade from the grot. The stick bomb flies high into the air as the beast laughs, then it bounces off the wall falling back at its feet and erupting. As the smoke clears, the bemused beast looks around to find its grot a splatter on the ground. The beast looks back at the approaching men and bellows “YOU’VE KILLED MY RUNT”. Another volley of fire is enough to send them screaming back in terror. The words on their lips are those of Xenos, They have emperor damned Xenos
Down in the main bay Xanatov stands, ready to lead the desperate counter attack. Gabriel marshals the last few guardsmen as Sente stands, a psychotic gleam in her eye. Xanatox says “I need you to kill quite a few people for me today Sente”. “I’ll do my best”. “You always do your best, I need better from you today”. Sente pats an ammunition pouch at her side “Plasma rounds are a girls best friend”.
Scourge, surrounded by hundreds of troops, marches forwards into the bay. Clad in his ridiculous dress uniform,and hair tied back in a ponytail, Scourge addresses the resistance “Ah Lord Captain, in your armour I see – are you ready to surrender?”. Seeing almost in slow motion Xanatov rising his sun rifle to respond Scourge snaps off a plasma shot which burns a guard where he stands “Oops I think I missed” he drawls mockingly before Xanatov fills the air with Xenos fire. As the fire fades Scourge still stands, patting a rune encrusted gem by his side “Oh Lord Captain, do you think I was born yesterday, guards, kill them”. Then the air fills with fire as the two sides fall upon each other.
Far away on the ship, Aviner ceases from his toils, the servitors are back online. At the head of his swarm of Murder Servitors, Aviner guides them to where the Lord Captain struggles. Though it may be far too late.
At the bay, the fighting is near its end. Voidsman after voidsman is sent into the breech by Scourge, until they buy ground by weight of the dead alone. Gabriel slams men left right and centre, tearing one man in half. His cyborg reinforced frame and relentless fury holds him fast for so long, but eventually he falls, a chain axe tearing at his knee. In moments he is not visible below the ruck of bodies that descend upon him.
Sente darts between the bodies as if they were not moving, point blanking them with deadly pistol fire. One man falls headless as Sente takes him apart with a knife edged chop to the neck. Aviners work has made her strong beyond any expectations. Las shots patter upon her position pinning her down, until one man can get close enough to fire straight into her head, shattering the back of the metallic skull and collapsing her to the ground.
Xanatov finally lies alone, his sun rifle gone. In all the fighting he didn’t even see Gabriel go. “how much longer Lord Captain “Scourge asks “your brightest and best are gone and dead. This is it, if you will not tell me what I need to know then no one will have it”. With that he rests his plasma pistol against Xanatov’s head “Goodbye”.
In the distance booming fills the air and the dakka dakka of horrendous gunfire. Scourge pauses “What’s that?”. A long forgotten item returns to Xanatovs minds “It’s a clause in my writ of trade, lets just say its a ships pet”. For all his front Xanatovs mind is whirling, the clause never exactly specified what the unseen “ships pet” was. The question is soon answered as a pale man, foul smelling with his own voided waste runs into the scene babbling “It’s, it’s , it’s an ork!”. In the distance a chanting voice sings “STOMP the humies, STOMP STOMP the humies”. Scourge looks with disbelief “You have a Xenos?” Xanatov shrugs “A sanctioned Xenos, yes”
The ork strides forth, and looks enraptured as Scourges forcefields “ohhhhhh. Shiny stuff”. As Scourge recoils, Xanatov smacks the plasma pistol to one side, draws forth his powersword and plunges it forwards. It first meets the returning plasma pistol, cleaving it in twain, then digs deep into Scourges flesh. In agony Scourge cries for help, vanishing as a teleporarium snatches him to safety.
In the silence that follows Xanatov looks at the slab of green muscle that stands before him “I don’t have time to deal with this. Do you have a problem with me, ork?”. The ork looks confused “Wheres bloke with shiny stuff go?”. Xanatov raises his arm towards the attached ship “To the ship attached to ours, tell them Xanatov sent you. The ork grins “I’ll see youse later”
As the ork lopes off, Xanatov drags himself across to his fallen team mates. Somehow Sente and Gabriel are both still alive, the tech miracles that Aviner implanted in them not only preventing their death despite horrendous injuries, but even healing them before his eyes. Xanatov pats Gabriel “You look after Sente”,the turns and pats Sente “You look after Gabriel”. Looking back through a half ruined eye and ruined mouth Sente voxes “aye captain. Danger. Detonation charges detected throughout the craft”. Recognition flickering across his bionic eyes. Xanatov barks down the vox to Aviner. Rising he decides on a dangerous course of action, heading to the Macro Cannon bays. If Scourge is to take this craft from them, then he shall give one last wound before he dies.
The servitors move through the ship at Aviners command, finding and defusing the explosives nestled in its nooks and crannies. There is not time enough though to find them all, a servitor disappears in a flash as melta bombs tear it apart mid defuse. Walls rip outwards, the enginariums sanctity violated by ruptured hull panels. One more the craft stills, lights flicker to nothing as precious air gust out to the void.
Scourges voice speaks once more “Well played Lord Captain. Well Played. You were brave until the end, but the ship will be your tomb. Gunners, turn all primary batteries against them, Don’t stop until their plasma drive explodes to become a new sun”
Finally reaching the macro cannons, Xanatov unleashes the last of their munition after the departing craft, shells disappearing harmlessly into its wake. The end seems nigh, the weapons locked on their helpless craft. But the shells do not fall. Across Scourges craft, the crew collapse in terror, clawing at their eyes as a unnatural binary resonance echoes across its halls. The “Hammer Of Truth’s” vox system has fallen to Aviner knowledge and he broadcasts the rite of fear deep into its heart. The Vengeance of Drusus is spare for now by the madness he spread. Wounded by fear and madness the Hammer Of Truth limps away. Quietly Aviner whispers “Here endeth the lesson”
Time passes, a voice comes across the ruined vox system “Lord Captain, Lord Captain are you reading me?” Recognising Linara Cobolts voice Xanatox answers from the darkness“I think you may be taking over the dynasty in some time.” A second voice, that of Sun Li’s joins the conversation “Lord Captain, id never imagine you would be one to give in so easily”. In the darkness outside their ruined sensors another ship joins, from which Blitz speaks “Its not the size of the dog in the fight and all that, and you keep on stacking those odds up. I’ve lost so much money on you already, I cant bear to let you go down on this. Scourge you better get out of here before you get the kicking you so rightly deserve”
Slumped with relief Xanatov realises the Rogue Traders are here to protect their investment. They are safe for now. The crew are slaughtered,. Saynay is loose, the ship almost a wreck, but he has his life, he has proof of the loyalty of those who stand by him.
He has all that, but with such ruined ship, how can he chase the dread pearl?