WH40K:Rogue Trader: Bloody Reunion
War has come to the idyllic planet, the Dread Pearl. Lord Captain Xanatov and his crew are running for cover in a rock outcrop. Even with the after effects of the Eldars assault on his mind Xanatov knows what is at stake here. The Xenos Wartsnagger was bait to draw Basteel down to the planet. Basteel who had ruined his ship, the Vengeance of Saint Drusus. Basteel who was now usurping his claim to the planet. As he slid into cover, backed by Colonel Stern, Provost Achillis and their elite guard, it becomes immediately obvious that things are not going to plan.
Miles above the planet Basteel drums his fingers upon the command throne of his flagship. He has no intention of meeting the Ork Xenos filth in combat as he had stated. The holo images appear, showing the island far below. “Fire” he commands. In response broadside cannons bark, sending contrails through the sky below. The barrage is imprecise but deadly as islands are flattened by the detonations. Shock waves and tsunamis speak for kilometres around. The barrage comes closer and closer to the island on which Xanatov and his crew are based. Finally a barrage finds its target, but not to the expected conclusion.
Instead of devastation, the explosion finds a green yellow haze that shimmers over the island, protecting it. The bait of the trap, Wartsnagger looks bemused at his glowing workshop. Beside him stands the Tech Priest Aviner, whose mind is racing and warping with the impossibility of what has just occurred. The ork device, a bulging fungal metabolic monstrosity has some how formed a cobbled together void shield. “Very very impressive Mr Wartsnagger” he says. The ork nods, satisfied “Ya like the beer then”. Aviner looks confused as he tried to work out an appropriate answer “I was referring to the void shield”. “Ah, shiny innit” it replies.
In the rocky shelters above this Xanatov’s crew are surrounded by precision bursts of crystal clear laser fire. Provost Achillies’ head disappears as a bolt takes him directly between the eyes. Xanatov is bundled to the ground by Stern. Pulling himself up from under Stern, Xanatov shoulders his sun rifle and lets its fury fly as he spies movement. A figure burst from the tree, an Eldar,barely ahead of the blast, skipping from leaf to leaf. It is not quick enough though and is consumed by the rifles fury as it is transfixed mid air. Victrix quickly calls upon the warp, masking her presence from those who would assault her.
Below the ork grunts as a simultaneous ambush results in several burning shots into his green hide. Unable to see a target it rushed to its workshop, digging through.for something ‘eavy. Aviner turns to Sente “I’ll draw their fire, watch the tree line. I trust you” He steps forwards through the hail of fire, his machinery burnt and torn by incoming fire. Sente returns fire, a series of detonations cutting trees in half but failing to fell their foes. There is a flicker of movement from the tree line then Sente falls backwards, her head imploded inwards from a bolt of fire. In a moment Aviner is by her side, holding her shattered form, desperately scanning the airwaves for a last signal, a last thought to hold onto. Then she is gone. With a scream of pain and static he rises charging headlong to find those who killed his beloved Something big and noisy pokes from behind the workbench and the tree line fills with the fire from the orks ‘eavy shoota forcing those puny Eldar back. The onslaught does not last long as a the heat warps the barrel, causing the shoota to fall to pieces but it has done its job That is enough for Aviner to close and tear the trees down, to try and reach those hidden within. The mocking Eldar leap however from tree to tree away from his wrath. Fire pours down on Aviner but he barely notices as he lifts the hell las to try and kill these murdering creatures.
Meanwhile Victrix has found Xanatovs attackers, unseen she reaches into their mind and seeds the terror of the warp. As ice crystals form around her the Eldar scream and real in terror. Fleeing, falling, and eventually dying as Xanatov and Victrix move amongst them, picking them off one by one with force rod and bolter. Soon none face them.
Meanwhile Warsnagger is by Aviners side, his axe in hand as the grot gives covering fire. Covering fire that picks off a single eldar with an almost contemptuous shot. The Eldar dance between a hail of hellgun fire and frag stickbombs, laughing all the while. The explosion separates them for a moment though, and that is enough for Aviner to draw a bead, his targeting hologlyphs marking the shot and burning an Eldar from the sky. The other moves in on the ork, stunning it with a glancing shot off its skull, then closes blade drawn.
The eldar leaps high, ready to strike, but finds instead the swinging of its axe to take the creatures head from its shoulders. Things don’t last much longer after that, and then everything is still. “Got it” the ork grunts with satisfaction.
Victrix and Aviner hold silent vigil for their respective fallen, but time is short. From the fury interceptor Pandareos voxes in “We got craft incoming, troop carriers in the hundreds, ordinance is getting heavy as well”. Aviner stand till as a statue over the fallen Sente as the others flee the incoming barrage, heading for the safety of the lander craft. The ork rigs a nasty explosive surprise to his workshop then joins the other in the lander, lured by the promise of further battle elsewhere, to kill Basteel. Realising Aviners absence Xanatov tries to find out what is going on. “Sente is dead” comes the reply “I’m staying by her side”. Xanatov offer condolences. “How did you continue without Gabriel?” Aviner asks. “You can’t get caught up in that now” Xanatov says “If you stay there you will join Sente soon enough”. For a moment Aviner consider that a good choice, but as the time comes close he finally replies “I will have enough chances to die today, I need not seek it out. I will rejoin her, but first I will do what needs to be done today. Thank you Xanatov”.
The landers take off moments before the blast, with not even enough time to close the bay doors. The force bubble finally falls as lance fire targets it, overpowering it. As the crafts slip away the island is consumed by a mushroom cloud. In the silence that follows the sensors register an oddity. A massive teleportation and a green light a hundred kilometers from them. Somehow it seems the orks workshop has survived once more.
In the wake of the battle Pandareos plays hit and run with the troop transports, downing six and leaving their men isolated on the land below. “Oh look, your food supplies are out and here em with a meal and amsec” he taunts as he flies over the burning wreckage “Basteel can’t protect you”. Basteel quickly moves his men to take population centres and set up anti aircraft defences the best he can.
Meanwhile Xanatov sets the atomic up on a deserted island, and initiates a plan to lure Basteel down. All messages are redirected and bounced giving the impression of weak an scattered forces. Finally Xanatov voxes Basteel in person. Basteel greets “This is lord admiral Basteel the seventh, who addresses me”. “You’re doing very well Basteel” Xanatov greets in reply “but you didn’t think it was going to be that easy to kill me did you?”. “XANATOV! I expected that you were going to die”. Xanatov smiles “I’m sorry Basteel I will never give you that pleasure, in fact, catch me if you can you doddery old fool. He cuts the vox before the inevitable reply so does not hear Basteel shout “I want that vox traced, I want his head!”
The next few hours are tense waiting, then two scout ships swoop down onto the planet, heading for the island they have rigged their trap. Pandareos moves to intercept in the Fury. Nigh instantly the two craft spin, trying to escape to the upper atmosphere jinxing wildly. As they enter the blue green atmosphere Pandareos greets them “I’m looking for a worthy opponent, but I just can’t seem to find one around here, whoops” with the final word he clenches his finger on the trigger of his lascannon batteries. The first craft detonates moments later “Do your worst” comes the reply from the second craft moments before it too is destroyed. “Well I did the worst I could” Pandareos says “and ye still died. Send someone who can actually fight”. Basteel speaks “My dear hotshot pilot, tell your master that I know your plans. He cannot lure me out to your trap”. Feigning ignorance Pandareos answers “Hey, I don’t know what yer talking about. All I know is ya made an excuse not to face the ork. An ork ‘ve faced down and now it want to rip my spine out. Then you make up some excuse to avoid facing the Lord Captain. Ye missing ye stones or something”. “I’m bored” Basteel says “Cover the area with broadside fire”. As Pandareo quickly flees the saturation of the area with cannon fire there Is a detonation on the planet below. Basteel has targeted the atomic and destroyed it with lance fire. Now more than ever, the crew of the Saint Drusus seem to have nothing left in this fight.
The remaining forces gather for another desperate plan, an island festooned with wraithbone structures turned rapidly into a home base for their plotting. It is there amongst the stones that blaze with power and dread that they receive a sign of hope. A vox transmission from Able Gerret requesting their aid. Converging on the signal they find him, with but a half dozen troops, retreating after an encounter with the natives that had turned violent. Pale and injured Abler runs to embrace Xanatov. From the embrace Xanatov says “I thought you were dead”.A shaking Gerret says “Lord Captain, it has been an age since I laid eyes on you. Truly Drusus and the emperor has sent you. I had not realised what den of base heathen nature we had stepped into. When I preached the word of the emperor they pelted me with rocks. They slaughtered my troops. I tried to vox my wife but to no answer. I thought we could save the savages, we brought out the books. The relics. I am alone now. I am so happy to see you though I fear I am no use to you I am but a burden”.
Xanatov answers “Our faith is tested at every turn. We face great losses. Your presence here is as welcome as my closest friends and family. You are a welcome guest, not a burden. Tell me, when did you last speak to your wife” Able says “not since our ship touched down. I haven’t seen her in over a day. I fear the brute has taken her, for that is his brutish way”.
Fed up with this display Xanatov drags Able to his feet, his bionic arm lifting him as if he was nothing. Dragging him to Sterns command tent Xanatov demands a situation brief. “Lord Captain” Stern answers “I would say we were right royally fucked. If I was a lesser commander that is. Being who I am, we need to find the others. Admiral Basteel has set himself against everyone. We need to find and aid them, don’t forget we have an army above us, even if it is three warriors strong”. Hope renewed by the mention of the Space Marine Xanatov agrees “We will return to the Sword Of Scintilla”. Offering a lohstick, Stern attempts to raise Ables spirits with tales of the trials of saint Drusus, how he was laid low before rising once more. With Xanatov the acknowledged return of Drusus the parallels are clear. As the tale finishes Able Gerret turns to Xanatov “You choose your companions wisely my friend. Basteel shall answer for his many crimes”. Xanatov nods “I hold few in high regard. That man is one of them. We shall not stand idly by and watch this unfold. I shall be Basteels worst nightmare”
The Scintilla above remains well hidden from the fray. The Bishop Of Xothos has repeatedly attempted to contact them, but vox silence has been maintained. The ship is a pit of depravity,drugs and pirates. But in its cramped folds the shrines of the god emperor alone are untouched, on pain of death. It is here the higher command gather. Seeing the silent gathering Pandaroes shrugs “Aight, I’m out of ideas. We can kill his men all day long but if the big boss doesn’t stick his head out we can’t shoot it off”. The gathering is small. Kaustic gives an impromptu funeral for the fallen Achillies, and Sente’s body has not been seen since she fell beside Aviner. The Ork was last seen turning an Aquilla Lander into an impromptu workshop. As Kaustics sermon finishes the crew have to be restrained from a suicidal run of Basteel ship, such is their risen ire.
Lucius alone has been gathering vital information that he shares with the group. Feckward and Scourge have been sighted on the planet below. Enslaving and massacring the populace. Scourges funeral pyres are so large they can be seen from orbit. Of more interest, Charabelles intact lander has been found amidst a series of Eldar structures. It is decided then to take a team planet side to investigate and try to find some advantage within.
An Aquilla Lander and the Fury Interceptor drop through the atmosphere to investigate. Amongst the vast array of xenos structures trails of people scurry back and forth clutching gems and fragments of structures in their hands. As the crew disembark from the lander as it touches down they find themselves faced by Charabelle and a number of guards readying their weapons. “Lord Captain Xanatov I presume” Chrabelle voxes “we have much to discuss. I take it you found my husband. I herd his distress call, but I had so much to do here. I presumed he would be ok”. Xanatov, Victrix, Lucius and Aviner accompany Charabelle deeper into the jungle as she continues explaining her intent to profit from these xenos structures. Around her, her men strip mine every curio of worth from the area.
Xanatov tries to suppress a feeling of dread. The familiar curve of the arches, the placement. This area was once a facility, a staging ground for a xenos invasion. Realisation hits. These are webway gates, and around them the statues are an army of eldar created warriors. Wraithguard.
“I’ve just worked out where we are. What this is” Xanatov says. “It’s a treasure trove that will buy my house back to power” Charabelle says, ignoring Xanatovs worries. “This is my share of riches as per our agreement, and you can tell that waste of a husband that I’m filing for divorce. I don’t need him any more.”. Dropping to the coded tongue of his upper echelons Xanatov quickly explains to the others what is going on. “Those clever throaning Eldar may have taken us for fools” Turning to Charabell Xanatov says “I’m leaving now, but when my friends come to deal with this threat make sure you are not on the wrong end of their heavy bolter fire.”. “Go away pretend rogue trader” comes the dismissive reply. Xanatov and co need no encouragement as they make their way from what could become a death trap at any time.
The aquilla lander is barely off the ground when Victrix doubles over in pain from overwhelming psychic pain. A high pitched shriek rips through the warp. Above the sky nigh boils, then turns black with sick purple scars torn amongst it. Witch fire breaks out underneath as a tall slender figure takes its place aloft the mount of the xenos structures. Every figure on or around the planet feels the figures mind speak to them as if they were one “This place, this world, is ours. You who would despoil all you touch have no place here”. Around the planet humans collapse wailing as their minds are touched. The voice speaks on “Your actions prove that you will not change. We offer one chance for you to leave. We have waited an aeon for the warp storm to lift,and we will wait another aeon rather than let you despoil this planet. Leave or you shall be slaughtered.
Lightning leaps from island to island, the warp storm roils above, and as one a thousand wraithbone statues step forth with lethal purpose. Fighting the pain Victrix sends message of the situation to the warriors of the emperor, the space marines above.
In response, within the “Oath of Purity’s” armoury four figures stand. Four battle brothers armed for war. Rune Priest Sigurd stands, the codex imperialis held aloft “Brothers, the witch showed me our worst fears have come true The abominable eldar have come to life. This foe will not fall easily below our weapons. We must release the sacred relics of the death watch armoury, and we must awake the ancient himself.” The battle brothers issue the holy weapons, the twin talons of the lightning claws, The thunder hammer, the lions roar of the plasma gun and the fury of the heavy plasma gun.
As the last relic is issued a voice speaks “I do his will” the sarcophagus machine that is the dreadnought awakes and joins them “The sons of the emperor are on their way witch”
Below the aquilla lander breaks for the safety of the orks force field protected island. It does not even manage to reach the water before the wraithguard open fire with their unnatural weapons. The crafts thick plates of armour might as not exist before their onslaught and soon the craft plummets from the sky, crashing back to the ground. Seeing their plight Pandareos swings the Fury over them unsealing missiles, lascannon bursts and targeted fire towards the Eldar Farseer and its wraithbone warriors. As the smoke clears several structures are rubble, but the Farseer and wraithguard are untouched. For a moment the farseers mind touches Pandareos’. Its mind shows no mercy or compassion and it reaches forth to crush the void masters psyche. The Fury flips through the air as Pandareos mind breaks, his eardrums exploding and blood pouring from him. The interceptor bounces and tumbles through the wraithguard, crushing more of them than its weapons ever did. As the ship stills on the ground its crew, The Player, Onna and Alalas all are dead. Only the infinitely lucky Pandareos lies alive but unmoving in the steel tomb.
With their craft destroyed the crew of the Rogue Traders retinue hesitate before the force that lies before them. Then the vox comes “ Clear the drop zone”. Drop pods hail from the sky, crashing into the ground and the warriors of the emperor stride forth. Lightning leaps from the Rune Priest staff and the holy weapons lay waste to the wraithguard. The rune priests voice booms “Kill the farseer, we shall deal with its army”. A bolt round chambers into Lucius’ pistol, Xanatovs sun rifle raises, lightning crackles from Aviners power axe and Victrix armours her soul.
They stand ready before what may be their doom, but they shall do their duty.