Rogue Trader: S2: Ep 26: Wait, They Have Space Marines Too? We’re Screwed
The fall out from the battle with Scourge is far from over. As the “Vengeance Of The Saint Drusus” sits in dry dock, the scarce remaining crew have chance to walk its empty broken corridors and reveal yet further misfortunes.
The elder crystals are gone, stolen by Scourge who hopes to use them to discern the location of the dread pearl. Worse still, the previously stasis frozen Tachinka has vanished, as have the heretical technological devices that were kept inert in stasis. The Lord Captain has not been seen for weeks, lost in a dark depression, sat in his throne room. Even Sun Lee’s messages do not rouse him. The strange Ork also has vanished back into the depths of the ship. Footfall is in nigh civil war, and the ruinous powers stalk the street taking advantage of the nigh anarchy that has claimed it. The Dynasties assets have been subject to wild Xenos raids, orks have fallen upon vital cities, disrupting the supply lines and the opportunity for profit.
Worse yet, the Rogue Traders are uneasy with the delay, fearing they are being played as fools. Able Garret is posed to rule in favour of Xanatov, damning Scourge for his attack on the Emperors statue. The other Rogue Traders circle, watching for any sign of weakness.
In the darkness of the bowels of the ship Aviner scavenges littered remains of Ork Tek, such that it is. A plan forming in his mind to hold the line while the Lord Captain is absent. The tek is primed with footage of the battle and of replicated ork war chants. The holdings of Scourge are shown as the prime battleground for a good fight. Still haunted by visions of the dead, Pandareos is more than happy to aid this deceit, spreading these rumours far and wide.
In near three months time the result is plain to see; Scourges’ holdings come close to crumbling before the massive Xenos assault. They survive of course, though Xanatovs coffers are swollen as Blake arranges for the war profiteering to benefit their dynasty, selling weapons to their hated enemy.
Knowing the fear showed of the Ork Xenos, they make sure these images are spread far and wide, to keep Scourge wrong footed in fear. Underneath the victory though is unease, there are rumours that the ‘undred ‘undred orks warlords are expanding rather than fighting one and another and close to critical mass. Nothing good can come from this in the end.
Meanwhile the surviving Cult of Solex members have been tasked with finding Tachinka, assigned Servitors to search the decks. Though specifically forbidden from making contact in person lest they destroy that Aviner wishes them to find.
Sighing under the weight of responsibility set upon him, Aviner moves to the next point, voxing Lucius to join him in a discussion on how best to deal with the coming auction. Since Lucius was the main contact with the kasbalika mission he will be vital here.
They gather then in the sepulchre like rooms of the broken ship, Brooding angels of death watching over the caverns, water dripping from the walls like their tears for the fallen. Blake sits, tired and worn in front of them, bleary eyed and clad in his leather greatcoat. “Greetings, have either of you seen the lord captain?” As they reply to the negative Blake looks concerned “It is not healthy for the Lord Captain to spend all his time in this graveyard ship”. Pausing for a moment Blake throws a dataslate to the table, a holographic scroll unfurls in green light displaying page after page of missives from the other rogue traders. ”This is what I have been receiving, a list of demands, a list of literal demands. I have been keeping so many plates in the air, and do not know how much longer I can keep them there. I think he has gone too far this time, he thinks them fools. They are not fools, they are sharks scenting blood. We must do something swiftly. Linara Cobolt has been of great help, but we need a crew. The Measured Response is space worthy once more, but it too needs a crew. Any I raise goes missing, our high command are attacked. Only recently a poisoning and kidnapping attempt on myself was attempted” Blake shakes his head “This auction. I known not if the scheme was honest or intended as a deceive and he will not speak to me. I do not know if it is madness, masquerading as genius, of genius masquerading as madness. Please, someone, tell me you have good news”
Lucius nods “We have locations we can sell at the auction that would not put us at a disadvantage. We have an arrangement for neutral ground for the auction, and I have prepared the safest passage for our swift departure after”. Blake smiles weakly “That will be necessary, the little crew we have is green, naïve and compromised. If we rely in an untested crew like that in battle we will wake with our throats cut”
The following hours are slow and careful as a plan emerges. Scourges possession of the crystals threatens the whole auction. So Aviner constructs a fake transmission from him, using his mechanical capability to recreate voices. The messages, if intercepted, hints that Xath is the planet with the next location where the clue to where the Dread Pearl can be found. Of course, Blake knows that the clue has already been claimed and its location destroyed, any who seek it there will find only war from the planets landships. Furthermore a message is sent to the allied landships of that planet to stay out of the coming battle, let the Rogue Traders and enemy Landships clash, weakening all those who stand against the dynasty. When the message is leaked Lucius sends out a message declaring that the information in it is not to be trusted, that all who seek the dread pearl should rely on their auction. The result is exactly as planned, all untrusting Rogue Traders leave for Xath instantly. Those who trust Xanatov, of which there are but two, Able Garret and Madam Charobelle, stay for the auction. It is a lesser turn out, but those who would cause trouble have gone. It is notable that Sun Lee is one of the traders who do not wait for the now announced auction date.
The date is the day of the feast of saint Drusus ascension, a day when he was struck down, it is said, by a Xenos blade, or a deamon, or a traitor or assassin, but the emperors light shone on him as he ascended to sainthood. This auspicious day will be when the auction is held.
In the last few days before the auction is held, more worrying information is found. Pic feeds are found of Tachinka, disappearing into the air in a flash of light. He, and the heretek, were snatched from the craft by a teleportarium.
Though rebuilt, the atmosphere of the Vengeance of Saint Drusus is different. Burn marks remain, scars on its metallic body. Faint scratching and whispers emanate from locked rooms and empty corridors. Most of the first drafted crew fled, haunted by visions of those who died there. A tale roams the decks of one crew member who opened an airlock to the void after hearing the voices of his family asking him to join them.
To Lucius’ third eye the rumours are simple fact. He sees the screaming souls, the darkness that nestles in the ship. No number of temples to the god emperor can hide the psychic stench of a charnel house. The ship hungers for more. Estiban confides in his friend that he has been keeping a tally of recent deaths and accidents on the ship, at least one life is taken for every day the ship is in drydock. He fears the ship will not stop until all who walk her corridors are dead. The battle each is day for nothing less than the ships soul. Reassuring his friend Lucius answers “The emperor is with us. My friend, I need you to tend to the ship while I am at the auction. Keep it ready to depart at a moments notice”. Estiban flicks a switch, bringing up a bust of the previous Lord Captain Sigmund “This is the man Xanatov took command from, notice the curve of his lips, the marks in his eyes. He was a madman of the degenerate Nostromo lineage. I still can feel him here, it was he who awoke the hunger of the ship. I would not see out Lord Captain beset by the same madness. This auction must succeed”. Finishing he offers a glass of plum brandy. Taking it Lucius nods “Thank you my friend” A swift gulp and Lucius scrunches up his face “Urgh, good stuff”. Leaving his hat by one side Lucius prepares to go planet side, tuckering weapons and smoke grenades into his jacket. He wants the mark of the Navigator visible this time, a warning to any who may face them.
The shuttle lands a block away from the auction, Lucius, Blake and Aviner together step forward to the auction house. Aviner is clad in his newly gained Power Armour, a hulking sight that clanks through the streets. The news is that the auction has become public knowledge and the Kasbalika have had to use force to dissuade time wasters from flooding the area. There are still Chartered captains, and the Rogue Traders Able Garret and Madam Charabelle who will be amongst the bidders.
The streets before the Obsidian Emporium is lined with hawkers and cheats crying their wares. Tales of the god emperor coming to them in a dream to tell them the location of the Dread Pearl, many claiming to be the right hand man of Xanatov, or acolytes of the Tech Priest who have the information. After travelling past these charlatans the three men find themselves before the gates of the Obsidian Emporium, where massive mutated beasts of muscle draw back the gates and allow them entrance. Within moments Aviner has communed with the machine spirits of the servo skulls that patrol the room, all reporting back security prayers and pic feeds. It is as if he had never left.
The room is packed by cheering and clapping crowds, popinjays , pirates and captains. Tanthas Moros, the heavily augmented liege of footfall sits, surrounded by his pleasure slaves. Taking the lectern, Aviner booms in his mechanical voice, thanking them for coming, and for their trust in the world of Lord Captain Xanatov. He tells them their trust is validated, that the rumoured location had existed, but was destroyed, and those who did not listed to the promise of the Lord Captain have run on a fools errand. As he finished, the Provisor crawls to the head of its lectern. The auction has started
The auction bids come in quickly, Chartist Captains form a co-operative to try and managed a winning bid that would allow the House Krin to muscle in on the Kasbalika mission. Rogue traders offer letters of marquee, casks of rare gems, marriage alliance and star maps. Lucius steps up, examining the offers of trade routes for their prospective value whilst Aviner plays to the steretype of a tech priests, demanding precise specification of the variables in what they offer, to find their true worth.
By the end the two Rogue Traders offers stand as the only ones worth anywhere near the value of the information, but oh what offers they are. Able Garret offers a letter of marquee, passage and introduction to the nobility of the lush mineral heavy imperial world of Demariss. A port that is the jewel of the expanse and nigh license to print money, and also notably close to the ‘undred ‘undred teeth expanse. Madam Charabelle offers the location of lost Breaking Yard SR651, an unregistered star ship reclamation and refurbishment yard that is rumoured impregnable. The rumours continue to say there are hundreds of lost vessels there, and Rogue Tarders have been bankrupted or wiped out trying to find it. After discussion, Lucius agrees that they should accept both offers, but to offer to both only if the two Rogue Traders are happy with that arrangement, so to ensure their continued good will. This agreed they find no objection to the offer and the deal is sealed.
The discussion is broken up as Aviner detects furtive movements from the crowd under the gaze of his servo skulls. Over vox he alerts his fellow crew and the Rogue Traders as the figures reach to concealed items under their cloaks. Into the room strides a massive mutant abomination cradling a heavy stubber in its giant paws “Krawkin Feckwood sends his salutations” it screams before letting fly with a torrent of shells.
Stepping off from the elevated perch he is upon, Aviner calls upon the machine spirits to catch him, levitating over the crowd “Put down your weapons now”. In return the cascade of copper shells continue to spit from the stubber as bullet after bullet bounces off the tech priests form. “Leave now, you cannot harm me”.Aviner says, resisting the urges from the war spirits in his armour that bay at him to attack. Meanwhile Lucius sprints down, readying he bolt pistol. Around the hall, men throw off their disguise, revealing twisted markings and sigils writhing on their faces as they prepare their weapons. The Provisor bellows for people to still, the auction has not been declared finished.
The massive door suddenly shudders, once, then twice, then crashed open under the force upon it. A huge armoured figure strides in, deafening the room with laughter from his vox . “Bow down before the gods of chaos” he shouts, clad in ivory white power armour, red daubed icons upon its leg and a long belt of ammo in its massive bolter. The chaos followers chant comes together in unison for the Chaos Marine Astrobel.
The crazed chaos follows redouble their assault, pouring hundred of rounds upon Aviner as he floats forwards, his armour bending before the sheer weight of fire. Lucius slides to cover as a shower of bullets hail over him. “Skulls for Khorn” shouts Astrobel “Scream for me you pathetic mortals” with a flick the Marine crushed a mans skull, then tears the spine from a another, maniacal laughter booming from him as he looses snap rounds into the huddled crowd.
Seeing the Carnage Charabelle readies her Eldar weapon, and by her side Able Garret unsheathes a twin pair of power blades. “I will not see this come to pass my love. I will protect what is right and decent against this abomination”. With a sweep he lifts his blade to point at his target, the Chaos Marine.
Realising Able Garret actions may likely cause the honourable mans death Aviner speaks over the vox to the crew of the Teleportarium “If my life signs fall, take me from here”. Rising his power axe he charges through the crowd at Astrobel, to hold him back, with his last breath of need be. The marine moves with unnatural grace, rolling easily under Aviners ponderous swing. Coming up it plunges its chainblade deep into the tech priests form, punching through the armour and tearing at his ribs.
Lucius leaps down, grabbing the two Rogue traders “What’s your exist strategy?”. “We didn’t expect this” comes the reply. Seeing them staring at the impaled Aviner Lucius shouts “The teleportariums got a lock on him, I’m worried about you guys”. Garret turns impaling a cultist that hoped to jump him while he was distracted, the power sword burning him to dust. Flicking the dust from his blade Garret smiles “My dear man, I am a master duellist, I can take care of myself”. In the distance the marine tears free his chainsword, spilling blood and oil in equal measure from the Tech Priest “on the other hand discretion is sometime the best part of valour” Garret finishes before joining the fleeing pair.
Aviner still stands despite his injury, facing Astrobel who flicks his blood from the blade. Astrobel, laughs seeing his opponent still not dead “ A worthy foe”. “I Deplore violence” Aviner replies. Astrobel spits “Weakling”. Looking down at his wound Aviner says “Evidently not, the flesh is weak, I am not” and swings the power axe in a mighty arc, crushing into the marines face, tearing the front from his helm. Staggering back the marine slams the haft away and tears the ruined helm from his head. With a scream of joy he leaps back into the fray.
Meanwhile Lucius fights to keep the crowd from swamping the fleeing rogue traders, under the weight of the mass of stabbing and crushing blows he collapses to the ground. Voxing the location for retrieval to Charabelle he disappears as the teleportarium snatches him from the ruck.
Astrobel lets lose at Aviner, pocking him with massive bolter shells that patter off his armour like rain. Meanwhile the cultist swarm over him, trying to drag him down, beating and screaming dedications to their blood god. Swinging once more, Aviner finds the Marine more wary, dodging and flickering away from his blows before committing to his assault swinging three heavy blows that send Aviner reeling, the final blow sheering through his armour and tearing his bionic foot from his form. Again Astrobel laughs as he steps back again, letting the cultists pile on once more. Shrugging out from under the mess of bodies Aviner speaks . “ You shouldn’t laugh, your deamons took my eye and still I sent them to the warp”. With all his might Aviner swings, but once more the blow finds nothing but air. With the Rogue Traders escaped Aviner shouts a binary cant down the vox, and the teleportarium snatches him from the melee to the safety of the “Vengeance of the Saint Drusus”.
Down on footfall, Garret and Charabelle have taken advantage of the distraction to slip past the blockade – in once case throwing a small proportion of their wealth into the air, and relying on the chaos that follows to cover their retreat. As they reach their destination, a Fury Interceptor glides to a halt. They rush inside they greeted by Pandareos “Right, so where to then?”
At their request Pandareos flies them back to the “Vengeance Of The Saint Drusus” where they are greeted by Lucius and Aviner, whom they thank warmly for their aid. With some shock they realise already Aviners damaged flesh is knitting itself back together. Garret, as he gets over this surprise throws a salute “Where is your master, we must speak about our business in earnest”.” I am not sure” Blake answers “I have not spoken to the Lord Captain in months”
As they speak the craft drags itself back into the heavens above, and is soon joined by the “Penance of Iocansus” and the restored “Measured Response”. The Dynasty’s fleet travels as one. Inside the Bridge doors open, gears grinding and crunching, revealing Xanatov, who strides forth, pale but with steely determination. ”Well met gentlemen, we have matters of great importance to discuss. The dread pearl will be ours”. Seeing the Lord Captain returned from his self imposed solitary Aviner replies” It is good to see you again old friend”
The heavens, and opportunity for profit await.