Into that Vast Expanse

Chief-Chirurgeon Log 12

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 012.1-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Rosebloom+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

I am so glad the boy, Herodion, has decided to pledge fealty to Lord Captain Drake. He seems to have finally shed his decadent and alarmingly sinful lifestyle in favor of the sweet rewards of servitude. We all struggle under one yolk or another. The cart is always driven by His Will, whether directly or via a chosen agent. I look forward to helping him realize how wonderful the choice he made is. In service is purpose and with purpose there is light.

Now I have time to set down and study the blessed notes I have been entrusted with. Provenance in his Divine Light.

Sister Adelaide asked permission to stay aboard the ship indefinitely. I am not sure why she approached me before Thunderwrath or the Lord Captain himself. She seems useful, but I still do not trust her. I shall endeavour to devise a way to force her into combat. I must see her true self forged in the crucible of war. The whispers speak to me, though they are fleeting and barely comprehensible. They speak of hidden motives. My vigilance shall have to be redoubled on her.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

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Character Interlude 002 - Kavik and Hero
An Olive Branch Is Extended

A few weeks after Herodion is released from the brig, the captain of the Collateral Damage pays the young seneschal a visit in his quarters. Not one to mince words, Draque gets straight to the point.

“I can see you are in no condition for more military assignments. It was a lapse in judgement to press such matters on you so soon after your oath. Furthermore, I leave it in your hands to determine if you need a leave of absence to process the facts of your new situation. Medoc will be more than willing to take over while you… recuperate.”

Hero makes no effort to hide a scowl at the mention of the Master of Whispers. Noting this, Kavik pauses for a moment, then adds, “If you wish to continue with your duties, I will expect you to comport yourself as an officer and accompany me as my High Factotum. However, I will leave the choice to you as to whether or not to take on additional assignments. I recognize that it was a mistake to make an example of you before the bridge crew. I must also recognize that your are no common soldier. However, you are still a member of my crew and will be treated as such. I will continue to hold you to the same high standards. Am I understood?”

The young noble gingerly sits down at the table. He eyes the old veteran in front of him, taking in the brightly polished buttons of the military uniform, the scarred visage, and, most of all, the dark scowl looming above. Almost lazily, he replies. “Sir, you remind me of my father. Do you know what that means?”

“Your father is a military man trapped behind the desk of a bureaucrat. I imagine he had little time for you.”

There is venom in Hero’s retort. “Yes, he was a military man. And a piss poor excuse for a father. He, like you, took little time to notice that I’d no interest in the life and legacy that he had laid out for me.” Hero laughs bitterly, visibly wincing with the effort. “Unlike you, however, he never took the time to attempt to apologize for it.” An uncomfortable silence falls between the two men. “It’s not your standards I’ve a problem with, Sir,” he continues cautiously, “It’s how you continue to treat me as he did. As a child, and then as a subject. One who should follow him willingly and oblige unquestioningly.”

Taking Kavik’s continued silence as tacit permission to continue, Hero adds, “The sign of a good leader, my dear captain, is one for whom his men will think it was their own idea to follow.”

For perhaps the first time, Kavik considers the man in front of him. “Do you know what my first mistake was, Herodion?”

“Aside from allowing a fugitive on your ship without a background check?” Hero replies brusquely, bracing for another painful oration.

“Underestimating you.”

Hero is taken aback by the admission. His jaw hangs open, half-formed retort dying on his lips. Until now he would have sworn that Kavik Draque was not the sort of man who was even capable of an admission of guilt.

“It is not one I shall repeat,” the captain adds.

Hero’s carefully measured response belies his incredulity. “Thank you, Sir. I believe this conversation has been edifying. For the both of us, if I may say so.”

Kavik nods slightly in agreement. “I concur. The very reason you are here instead of rotting in an Inquisitiorial cell is to question my decisions and ensure a better outcome for my House and yourself.”

Almost instinctively, Hero interjects, “Then, with all due respect, Sir, perhaps you ought to allow me to do my job?”

The Rogue Trader looks his seneschal in the eye. Seeing a brief glimmer of fear, he nods. “Yes. I intend to do just that.”

Seizing the opportunity, Hero presses on. “I am a sight better at the ins and outs of bureaucracy than yourself, and I daresay a better read of the common man. Most of the world won’t abide by your military world of black and white. It’s much more… flexible.”

Before he can get too far, Kavik interrupts the young man, “First, I would have you fetch me a ransom for the hulk of the Summer’s Bounty. The Navy has deep pockets. Plumb their depths.”

Hero’s brow furrows and he blinks rapidly. A sort of half-manic grin of realization slowly spreads across his face. “How far and how daring would you like, Sir?”

“In this instance, Herodion…” A small smile crosses Kavik’s lips. “Indulge yourself. As you are so fond of reminded me, I am no longer a military man. I feel it may be time to exercise my new found authority more… extensively.”

“Excellent. Let the games begin, then.” Then, as an afterthought, “Oh, and Captain?”

“Yes, Herodion?”

“I might perform a bit better if my quarters had a door,” the nobleman observes, looking pointedly through the hole in the wall.

The door propped against the wall is dented and damaged. The hinges are broken in several places and in some places exterior layer of metal as begun to peel from the edges. Draque waves dismissively towards the door. “Why haven’t you dealt with that yet? Speak with Triox. It is no concern of mine. Though, I had been wondering why you tolerated quarters without a functional hatch…”

Hero heaves a dramatic sigh, motioning vaguely to the entrance to his quarters. “You know, after having Victrix break off the hinges enough times it’s a wonder I bothered having a door at all.”

“It does beg the question, " Draque concedes, stepping through the portal. “Regardless, Herodion, you are a Lord of this House and a member of this vessel’s command staff. Exercise some of that power,” he adds before disappearing into the hall.

Hero raises an eyebrow and smiles to himself, “As you wish, Sir.”

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Hero's Diary Entry 12
In Which Tests Are Endured

Dear Diary,

I am Herodion Nicostratus, of House Nicostratus. I am the son of Lucan Nicostratus, celebrated militant and planetary governor of Caerus Ekho. I am a brilliant and canny socialite. And my life is in absolute shambles. Completely and utterly. Destroyed beyond recognition. I am writing this entry from the brig of the Collateral Damage. The brig. I’ve signed away my life to another, one of the few people I considered a friend on this ship rendered my face a swollen mass of purple and blue and very nearly tried to kill me, and I haven’t slept properly in days due to lash wounds. Another memento of one of Draque’s lessons. I don’t know how many more of them I can take, Diary. I’m not sure how many more I can survive. But I will not bend. I must not break. I would sooner die than give that man the satisfaction.

No, as Kavik is so fond of reminding me, I am his. Now both Lord and Seneschal of House Draque. If he is going to make the mistake of giving me that power and responsibility, without truly understanding the magnitude of its weight, well then I intend to use it to my full advantage. And why not? Ostensibly, in the grandest scheme of things, what benefits me will benefit him. And, goodness knows, nothing I’ve done to this point has been to my own advantage since I set foot on this miserable ship. No, if I’ve learned one thing from my father, it’s that the true sign of an effective leader is one for whom his subjects believe it was their own idea to follow. Kavik reads like an open book. It should be an easy game. And when I have made this house great, when I have comfortably ensconced myself in all the power, luxury, glory, and riches to which I ought be accustomed, only then will he be made to realize that without me his empire is nothing.

Politics on this ship is not so different as politics at home, Diary. It is all a game—and I mean to win.

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Collateral Damage session 12
Trailing the Orks after the devastation of Rosebloom

Having wiped the invading Orks from the face of Rosebloom and scourged the surface of the planet with an atomic weapon, Kavik ordered that the hulked Navy ship Summer’s Bounty be cleansed of Ork spores. Lilyth, ever eager to burn, suggested that the atmosphere be super-oxegenated and incinerated.

Kavik planned to tow the ship back to the dockyards at Mauritius, but Triox convinved him that it was his right to claim the ship as salvage and sell it to Navy. Triox also had his acolytes recover whatever useful components they could from the ship, including the remnants of the cherubim aerie. Triox recovered the last viable cherub and implanted its brain and cogitation centers in the body of one of his Herodion clones.

Kavik still wanted to wipe out the Orks, so he had Orpheus follow their trail into the Warp. On the journey Hero fell into a deep, morose mood, brooding over his forced servitude to House Draque. Meanwhile Victrix became filled with bloodlust after fighting Orks and took out her rage on the crew. During sparring matches she killed two crew, drove Burne & Goat to exhaustion, and narrowly avoided splitting Hero’s head.

Exiting from Warp, Kavik gave Hero command of the ship and ordered him to investigate for signs of Orks. Hero made every attempt to avoid this position of authority but eventually discovered that the Orks had bombarded a formerly inhabited planet with rocks towed from the asteroid belt. Warp trails suggested that the ship departed with two more, and Kavik declined to follow the Ork fleet.

Fed up with Kavik’s impositions, Hero mouthed off one too many times and was finally treated harshly by the captain. He spent some time in the brig and earned some lashings, but Kavik eventually extended an olive branch.

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Non-Technical Records of Genetor Kalin S11

+READ DATA STORAGE DESIGNATE: COLLATERAL DAMAGE S.11+

The Zero-point energy manipulation relic served well on Rosebloom. With its help, I was able to destroy several Orks as well as rescue Subject CD-0003 from a potentially hazardous situation.

It seems CD-0003 has become a vassal to Lord-Captain Draque. With his new standing as the first vassal house to the Draque dynasty, he becomes too valuable to Draque for me to risk his loss in experimentation. This is a major setback, a loss of nearly a year’s work. I shall see if there is anything I can salvage from this catastrophe.

+END DATA+

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Lord-Captain's Personal Log 11

+++FILE DESIGNATION: Lord-Captain’s Personal Logfile+++
+++TEMPUS: 6.503.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Geostationary orbit over Rosebloom+++
+++RECORDING BEGINS+++

We have successfully retaken Rosebloom. The battle to retake the settlement was hard-fought, but it was won with minimal casualties. It seems that the Orks were neither prepared nor equipped for a concerted attack. Now, there is something I can be thankful for. Once the settlement was secure, the command staff and I made our way up to the monastery through one of the service lifts located inside the cliff face itself. We managed to catch the Ork patrols unawares and destroy them quickly. At last, we confronted the new “Kaptin” of the Orks. His command was short lived. Lilyth burned the lot with the Fire of the Emperor’s Holy Wrath. So will be the fate of all who stand against Him.

Inside the main chapel of the monastery, we discovered the holy remains of Lucius Rosen, who I am told was a follower of Saint Cognatius during the first Crusades into the Expanse. Thankfully, the relics were largely undamaged and we were able to secure them in stasis without incident. I will have to contact the Ecclesiarchy to find an appropriate place to relocate them.

Once aboard the Collateral Damage with the few remaining survivors and our prizes, I conferred with my advisers and determined the best course of action would be to cleanse the settlement from orbit with the last remaining ancient atomic from Kaph. It is the only way to be sure the Ork menace is purged completely.

Early the following morning, I was paid a visit by Herodion and Victrix with some most unwelcome news. It seems that Herodion himself was responsible for the Ork outbreak on Marshal’s World and is currently wanted throughout the Imperium for Treason, Heresy, and Crimes Against the God-Emperor, among other lesser charges. There is no doubt that at least two branches of the Inquisition, the Arbites, elements of the Officio Assassinorum, and countless bounty hunters are searching for him at this very moment. And, thus, I was faced with a rather uncomfortable choice. I have, despite my better judgement, have come to value the lad’s presence aboard my vessel and have come to rely on his craft. Given time and effort, I could make something worthwhile out of him. And in turn, he could make me a very wealthy man.

When I came to it, the solution seemed laughably simple. Under almost all circumstances, I would be bound by honor, morality, and my duty to the Imperium to render Herodion to the appropriate authorities forthwith. Only if he were a sworn vassal of my House would I be compelled to hold him safe from harm – even that which was self-inflicted. And, so, I made him the offer: he and his line would serve House Draque in perpetuity or he would face the Emperor’s Judgement. I dare say he made the prudent choice.

+++RECORDING ENDS+++

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Chief-Chirurgeon Log 11

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 011.1-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Rosebloom+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

Burned. I burned them all. Glorious light. I heard His voice issuing judgment in the ragged screams of the xeno. I saw His terrible visage reflected in every burning wretch. They received their reward, a painful burning death. We cut a swath across the hills towards the settlement, purging their taint as we went. The men fought admirably… we suffered almost no casualties while at the same time driving the Ork scum back and winnowing their numbers to almost nil. The settlement was in ruins though, almost none survived. What the Orks did not destroy outright the ensuing liberation did. Those few souls that did survive will need to be quarantined, to ensure no xeno taint remains festering inside of them.

Upon reaching the last remaining cretins holed up in the monastery I saw something few live to tell of. Trolls. They were even more disgusting than their smaller kin. Knowing He would protect me, ushered on by His whispers of encouragement, I charged forth and unleashed the most pure and beautiful conflagration I have ever witnessed. It was as if The Holy Emperor Himself had appeared, blinding and magnificent and personally smote the creatures for their transgressions. Glorious.

I set to assessing the extent of the desecration, and blessedly, the aertifacts were largely untouched. Examining the skull of Rosebloom himself revealed a much more troubling and older desecration. Some of his teeth had been removed and a very troubling note had been left hidden inside. The note was penned by Alyenikov herself, and the teeth had been removed by her hand! It spoke of heresy and dark suspicions. I will turn it over to the Lord Captain once we return to the ship. All the aertifacts shall be removed and returned to a safer place. This world is no longer safe to house them. Troubling omens, I must meditate and seek His guidance.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

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First Officer's Log XI
#.###.041.M42

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 011-#.###.041.M42 +
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42 +
+++LOCATION: Rosebloom+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

  • Stayed up thinking about what Kavik would do. Need to get more rations.
  • Kavik offered—demanded—that Herodeon accept a vassellship. It was like a reward for both parties. Obviously, Hero sees this as a terrible burden… But, what of meaning would he be doing with is life, if not the work of the Emperor?
  • Rosebloom was purged with the holy fire of one of our nuclear warheads. I would have, perhaps, advised keeping them, but Triox seems relieved that they are gone.
  • …I shall design a training for Hero, it can be official now that he is a part of the Dynasty. I do not believe that this is offered through guilt.
  • But, I shall give the man time to come to terms with his new life… Including keeping the boys at bay.

Lilyth continues to impress me with her martial prowess with the holy flame of the Emperor.

.
.
.

Current rations @ 35%

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 011-#.###.041.M42 +
+++DATA-RECORD//END+++

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Hero's Diary Entry 11

I hate him, Diary.

I. HATE. Him.

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Collateral Damage session 11
Reclaiming Rosebloom

Kavik and his soldiers demonstrated admirable courage as they swept the small town on Rosebloom clean of Orks. Triox had a chance to demonstrate the power of his gravity manipulator, smashing hunks of rubble through the horde and felling many Orks. Lilyth demonstrated particular zeal in dispatching the front lines with her holy flamer.

Having secured the town, the captain led a small team up the winding switchback path to the monastery at the top of the Cliffs of Glory. At first they were pelted with stones from the Orks above, but pinning fire from the guardsmen below quieted the greenskins. Later they were able to evade the falling debris by gaining access to a service lift that carried them the rest of the way to the top.

The crew found the monastery to be nearly in ruins, with junk and detritus littering the hallways. Hero was unlucky enough to be sent on a scouting mission through the hallways and encountered two Orks on patrol. Luckily he escaped with his skin while the others took them down.

In the main chapel the group encountered a huge Ork who proclaimed himself the new Waaagh leader after the destruction of the krooza above. He was flanked by two trolls, but none of them were a match for Lilyth’s holy wrath, which immolated them on the spot.

In the ruins of the reliquary the skull of Lucius Rosen was largely untouched, but Lilyth noticed that a molar was missing and discovered a small, tightly folded note inside.

Back on the Collateral Damage, Hero and Victrix had a conversation about Hero’s involvement with the devastation of Marshall’s World. When Kavik learned of the fallout, he forgave Hero on the condition that he swear his life to the permanent servitude of House Draque.

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