Rogue Trade: S2: Ep28: Killin’ in the Riggin’
Stood upon the bridge of “The Light Of Terra”, Lucius is lost in memories, but not memories his own. Before his third eye the psychic scars of the craft are showing themselves. Madness and suffering whirling around the figure of its Captain, Roth. Starvation came, and power failed. Cannibalism ran rampant as food supplies dwindled, as the Gellar field failed. Chunks of the ship were sealed off, entombing the crew within it with their new gods. To make this ship clean once more will be hard, to purge the atrocities witnessed, to recover the thousands of people still hidden upon the vessel. This was not the first, alien species have met their end here, cast off as their empires crumbled to dust. “The Light of Terra” is just its latest in a long line of victims.
Present day reasserts itself; Lucius shakes his head, clearing the vision as Xanatov rises slowly to his feet, standing before the command pulpit. “It’s all falling into place” Xanatov says “The prophesies. Maybe I am meant to take his place, to return the crusade. Just think Lucius, just think where this ship has been. The worlds it has claimed. Just think the good we could do in the name of the god emperor. To reunite the heathen expanse. Dare I dream so?” Gabriel and Stern are similarly in awe.
The moment is broken as a distorted crackle rises on the vox “Officer *** reporting in **movement***all around us *** take position. Check your angles of fire” Stern grabs a massive speaking unit for a Servitor, performing the rite of activation to make it bring up a holographic image of the bridge, green lights flickering representing the loyal crew. The green lights are soon outnumbered by red blips, unidentified figures, vast numbers of them swarming forth. Lucius asks ”We got hostiles?” A pale Stern answers “Aye Lad. I’m getting reports, we got incoming. Team alpha zed has gone down”. The distorted vox has not ceased during this with its crackling voices and cracks of las fire “***They’re coming out of the walls***” someone screams. Stern shouts in response “Fall back to the bridge, I want intel now!”
The guards are quickly in position, the Xathians first, Gabriel watching over heavy stubber in hand. Stern addresses the crew “This should be cakewalk compared to what you’re used to back on Xathe. Anything comes through give it a face of shrapnel”. “I’m armed for precision not crowd control” Lucius says. Stern smiles “What do you think I have these bastards for, I need you if any get past them and near me”.
The crack of las fire is getting closer, then a thudding of heavy stubbers. Screams echo from the rapidly nearing distance, frag packs detonating in their wake. One by one green lights flicker off on the holographic display. In the darkness of a still ship the crew run, spilling in through the blast doors. Behind them shapes follow, lit only by the red light of las fire. As they try to get the blast doors shut once more the flamer units step forwards to fill the corridors with purifying promethean. It is not enough. In the darkness the shapes close to deadly close quarters combat.
In the bowels of the ship Aviner can hear the commotion over the vox. Turning to the arriving Sente, Aviner recalls the tech priests he has just sent forth, to keep them from the fighting. Similarly he orders the servitors to guide the Sanction Xenos Ork round in a holding pattern, in case the creature needs to be loosed. Calling the tech priests to him, Aviner works, trying to restore power from some of the broken conduits. All he needs is just enough to get light and power the bridge, to get a sign of what is happening there. Though difficult the team work with the efficiency of those of the Omnissiahs glory
In the midst of the fighting on the bridge Lucius has to shield his eyes as lights flare on, illuminating their foe. Packs of feral humans, some in ancient guard armour, but most marked by tattoos, bones and war masks. They are many, but most are armed with primitive reflex bows and spears. A figure in their midst, stripped to waist, but for an aquilla clad to his body, seems to leads them. In low gothic this powerful figure shouts “Kill the defilers”. In response Lucius answers “Do not defy the rightful servants of the emperor”
Stern stands ready to defend the Lord Captain Xanatov . “If they come through lads, we are going to make them pay. Make them rue the day they stepped upon this sacred vessel”. More lights flicker on, culminating in the command pulpit glowing with holy light. Before this the warriors halt and fall to their knees “The oracle has acted, the oracle will defeat them all, will smite them, debase yourselves before him” Their leader says. Fingering his aquilla he looks up at Lucius “He is watching”. Keeping his bolt pistol trained on the figure Lucius replies by making the sign of the aquilla in the air. Their leader looks thoughtful for a moment, then slowly lopes away, as if contemplating what has happened here. As they stand in the rapidly emptying room Lucius turns to Stern “Any ideas what just happened here?”. “Your guess are as good as mine, looks like he had marked you out, but then he stopped” Sterns says. ” Are these then the former crew, or descended from the crew?” Lucius asks. ” It doesn’t bear thinking about, they were lost a thousand years ago. They know the emperor though. Either way they stand in the way of us taking the ship. If it was up to me I would gas the lot of them”.” I don’t know, I’m a bit out of my depth. Maybe this is one for Father Kaustic” Lucius says. “Aye let the priest deal with the difficult matters” Stern agrees. Over the vox Lucius says ”If you have imperial symbols, anything, have them on display, they react to them , if they see us as kin they have less reason to attack us.”
In the quiet Xanatov stares quietly at the vista screen, lost in thought
The crisis over, Aviner has ordered the ork back to the ship once more. As he gets ready to continue to the enginarium he becomes aware of sensor readings, a spore of human life behind him. Laying his weapon to the ground first Aviner turns to see a short scraggly female figure, clad in red robes. Vacuum pipes and wiring make up most of her clothing and a crude mask that covers her face. Realising she has been seen she jumps backwards and bows deeply. Curious, Aviner attempts a binary greeting to this newcomer.
The woman’s head snaps up, behind the grill of her mask her lips move, whispering mutilated echoes of the rituals to sooth machine spirits. Turning to low gothic Aviner asks “Can you understand me?”. The woman draws back “Hi. I can snack what you say” Aviner nods “Very well, how and what you know of Adeptus Mechanicum?”. “I not snack what you know” she says. ” Tech Priests” Aviner clarifies. “Kin of iron, you are kin of iron, aye?” “I reject the weakness of the flesh” Aviner says in response. “We too” the woman says “many we are, kin of iron – tend the ancient slumbering ones. I am operator of section 2B. Sacred task have I. Bound by honour and ancient rite. Wonderment of machines” As she finishes talking she breaks into a ritualistic dance, pausing after a few moments realising that Aviner does not join her “You no do that?”
Aviner pauses, before removing the gauntlet of his armour, revealing his bionic hand”Do you doubt my dedication to the machine”. On seeing this woman collapses to the ground babbling in joy that the true iron kin has come to deliver them. Aviner says to her “This ship is sacred beyond imagination. If you have tended to this ship then in thanks we can induct you to the true ways of the machine. Now I would wish to commune with the ships spirit”. Nodding, the woman offers to take him to the burning god. As he sets off, Avoiner vox’ Sente, thanking her for her trust in letting him accompany this impressionably woman. Sente answers ”Well If you do anything then I will cut your plasmas conduits off”. Confused, Aviner replies “I don’t have any plasma conduits”. Moments later he sends a second message “Oh. I see”
Meanwhile the Xenos Wartsnagger Duffgob is happily stomping through the corridors following the servitors, presumably back to his prized shoota. As the Ork talks about Stompin’ and Shootin its grot looks distrusting at the walls. “ere boss, don’t these corridors look the same?” “Well they don’t look like the ones near me workshops” Duffgob answers with a grunt. “I think we’ve been here three or four times. Someone’s taking us for idiots.”. Duffgob turns to a servitor “So which way we going now?”. “This way sir, if you would care to follow me, we will soon be back at the Saint Drusus. I live to serve” The servitor says. The grot asks “ere boss what do you make of that red robe umie then?” . “Think he’s one of them meks – seems to know how to get me back to me shooter” Duffgob says. The grot continues to try and convince Duffgob something is up, but it is too obsessed with returning to his prized shoota to be distracted.
Out in the ship the Sword of Scintilla, watching the voids of space, Pandareos is bored “I could have been on that craft, I could have been shooting those people” he mutters to himself before sending out an announcement that the dress codes on the ship have been relaxed. His grumbling is interrupted as alerts light up across the ship, massive warp expenditure has been detected as a small fleet materialises on the edge of the system. Three raiders and a firestorm class frigate.
Upon the Vengeance of The Saint Drusus a ranked officer, in absence of the higher command structure, opens up vox communications warning them off from the zone. In response comes a message, encoded with Sun Li’s personal codes asking them to leave the area so they can take a reading of the way station.
Unsure of what to do the officer vox Blake for advice. Meanwhile, unknown to all Pandareos moves his ship silently behind the fleet, waiting directly behind the frigate for the moment to strike. Noticing the ships are powering up weapons, Blake advises “Tel them to stand down if they do not, destroy them utterly”. The officer sends out the message “It’s ok to scan, but don’t pull anything or we will open fire”. A long silence follows before the vox opens once more , “We have run a system wide auspex to where we believe the item to exist, we have found nothing but the auspex ghost of explosion. Where is the way station?” The officer answers “Stand down, hold position, I will get the information for you”.
Listening in from the Sword of Scintilla Pandareos says to himself “For pities sake open fire already” opening vox to his crew he shouts “Ok everyone, I’ve done this sort of thing before. We are going to rip off their arsehole and I’ll laugh in their face as I do it, anything we take from the ruined craft will be distributed throughout the craft as your reward. I’m Pandareos ya hear, lets do this” A cheer erupts from the crew as they rush to fighting stations. The officer of the Saint Drusus speaks once more, unaware of this exchange ” The way station is no more, hold or we will open fire”.
The Saint Drusus’ augers bring back images of the raiders, ships marked with the eight pointed star of chaos, filling the void with broadcast horrors of what they will do to those they capture. Recoiling, the officer gives the order “Wipe them out”. Auger readings scan and lock the targets before the ungodly barrage of macro fire and lance batteries fill the air. Tearing through their shields, but unable to find a solid lock to destroy them the ammunition is expended, the lances carve through crystalline ice rings of the planet rather than their intended target. In response come the fleets’ fire that hammers the broadside of the Saint Drusus tearing at the hull and the shields with a vicious onslaught.
From behind the Firestorm cruiser, the Sword of Scintilla powers up unleashing its weapons at close range, but doing little more than pattering off its shields. Running to the Fury Interceptor Pandareos shouts to his crew “Player don’t tell me your in a bad mood, I need someone who can shoot straight. Onna I need someone to take eyeballs out, repeatedly. Meet me at the interceptor, we’re going in”
Dodging through flack fire the interceptor locks onto the frigate, unleashing Pandareos and his motley crew within. Laughter and gunfire fill the ship as they kick, stomp and shoot their way through to the engine room, leaving melta charges in their wake. Explosions roar as the boarding party return to their craft, Onna holding torn heart and testicles in her hand. Leaping once more onto the deck of Scintilla, Pandareos throws looted gold to the nearest crew members “aight, there’s more where that came from. NOW DON’T THROANING MISS”
As the vox chatter fills with these sounds of laughter and death, the Chaos raiders turn , realising the threat that comes from behind them. The frigate lists aimlessly, its engines battered and worn by the assault. As the sides exchange world shattering armament. Pandareos and his crew launch themselves back into the breech once more. Knocking politely upon the ruined breech point on the frigate , Pandareos laughing voice comes out ” “Oops, I’m sorry, we left a spent shell casing over here while we were shooting you so we had to come back, how embarrassed are we”. The insanity rages once more, the Player not missing a single note as they riot through the craft once more, bringing down the void shield generators with high explosives, leaving bodies in their wake.
The officer of the Saint Drusus screams to the vox “We’ve beaten them off, now finish them off, someone hit the damn things” in response the crew loose weapons once more, the lance batteries finally finding their mark, cleaving a solid third of a raiders hull off into the void and devastating its thrusters “Good, do that again”. The remaining raiders unleash accurate fire on the Sword of Scintilla, causing fires to break out across its structure. “Get that the hell under control” Pandareos shouts, pushing the crew into the breech, knowing a fire on the ship could end them all. In short order, the fires flicker out, freeing the lance battery to carve the stilled firestorm cruiser, nigh hulking it in a single shot.
Returning to the void in the Fury once more, Pandareos takes the men and women of his crew towards the raider that struck them “See those markings, something we don’t want to look at” “Aye, I see them” “That means they defy the emperor, this one ain’t for plunder this one is “ Pandareos pauses, a smile on his face ”This one IS FOR THE EMPEROR!”. Like mad people they plunge into the chaos craft, filling it with righteous fire and leaving a burning ruin in their wake, those who are alive still soon won’t be.
Used to the range now, the Saint Drusus unleashes fire again, knocking another raider from its path, fires breaking out across the ship. Desperate its captain manages to bring them under control. As the Saint Drusus moves forwards across the void, the final undamaged raider makes a break for it, fleeing into the void, the Sword Of Scintilla hot on its heals. On board the raider vessel, the sound of a boarding Fury Interceptor can be heard, before a brightly coloured madman steps before them, grin on his face, and lou stick in his lips “Aight guys, you know the drill by now” Pandareos says, guns leaping to his hands. As the boarding party exit once more, devastation done, the thrusters explode under the weight of the explosives laid upon them
Somehow, desperate the firestorm frigate turns, firing a shot across the Scintilla’s bow. “Can you get this thing off my back, I’m having fun here” Pandareos voxes. The Drusus is tied up however ensuring that the other pirate vessels are dead and ruined, letting the firestorm loose a shot once more. “Right. Please stop doing that or I will come back” Pandareos says as his crew rip through the chaos vessel. As the leave once more, the ship is taken by mutiny, its crew rising up, in the fighting that follows the ship ruptures and its Plasmas drives explode “What the hell just happened we didn’t hit it” The officer of Saint Drusus voxes. Laughing Padnareos lies, taking credit for the happenstance “It’s an old trick I used to know.”
The Firestorm frigate tries to limp away but is easily caught and overpowered. Exhausted after hours upon hours of fighting Pandareos steps once more onto the Sword Of Scintilla “Aight, distribute the loot and tell everyone we got a celebration for this one. If anyone wants to wake me for private favours feel free, otherwise just let me sleep”
The battle in the emperors name done, Pandareos falls into the sleep of the just