Into that Vast Expanse

Non-Technical Records of Genetor Kalin S10

+READ DATA STORAGE DESIGNATE: COLLATERAL DAMAGE S.10+

We have arrived at the Naval Dockyards at Mauritius. Hopefully Draque will conclude his business here swiftly and we may begin more fruitful endeavors.

.My brothers of the station have joined me for a tour of the holy mysteries of the Collateral Damage. The wonder in the faces of my brethren serves to remind me how blessed I am in the eyes of the Omnissiah to serve as Chief Enginseer on such a holy relic. My brothers have thanked me for the opportunity by presenting me with a rare and blessed helm of Dragonscale Armor.

Draque has scented his favorite enemy near a planet called Rosebloom. As usual, he is drawn to the Orks as a moth to flame. His obsession may one day be the end of us all. Omnissiah grant that day does not come before my work is finished.

He also brought on board three more of the Holy Atomics. Although not as aged as their brethren, the Machine Spirits of these relics are ever untrustworthy. I think I see now why the priests here seemed so grateful to me. I have stored the devices through separate munitoriums that their delusions not rise to a fever pitch through shared communications.

We have arrived at Rosebloom. Warp travel largely uneventful, though Draque and Victrix are reported to have shared hallucinations of Orks. I am reminded to thank the Machine God for his blessings of Reason and Logic which spare me the obsessions of these military minds. Initial survey of the system reveals a heavily damaged ship registered as Summer’s Bounty.

Praise to the Omnissiah, for another of His Holy Atomics has met its ordained purpose on the prow of an Ork raider! Though our victory was swift, the Collateral Damage sustained injuries to several sectors from debris propelled from the front of the Ork ship in the form of the Avatar. These xenos never cease to surprise me with their sense of irony, and I wonder if the brutes recognize it in themselves.

Draque has ordered the command crew to assemble for a surface raid. I go to collect his battle servitors.

+END DATA+

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Lord-Captain's Personal Log 10

+++FILE DESIGNATION: Lord-Captain’s Personal Logfile+++
+++TEMPUS: 6.472.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Geostationary orbit over Rosebloom+++
+++RECORDING BEGINS+++

Our journey to the Imperial Naval dockyards at Mauritius was largely uneventful.

Upon our arrival, we were met by a Navy lieutenant and given a cursory tour of the station. The station is better kept than I expected for an installation this far out from Imperial-controlled space. Commander Grantz is also something of an oddity. He is clearly a fighting man of some experience, but the fact that he has been posted to such a backwater belies some degree of ill-fortune or misconduct in his career. I’ll have to keep an eye on the man. He is, however, in control of a fully functioning munitorium and a surprising supply of atomics, so I must endeavor to win his good graces.

As I discovered soon after meeting him, the opportunity would be readily available. The dockyards are host to survivors – a bridge office and her psycher – of a vessel called the Summer’s Bounty, which was attacked by Orks during a routine patrol near the planet Rosebloom. After brief negotiations, Command Grantz agreed to provide us with a small supply of atomics with which to aid the Summer’s Bounty and destroy the Orks. Furthermore, upon our victory over the greenskins, we will receive preferential treatment repairing and rearming during future endeavors.

On our way to Rosebloom, a minor warp incursion presented those on the command decks – myself and Victrix, especially – with a vision of an Ork horde charging through the aft quarters section. The images, though disturbing, are not entirely unexpected. As we travel deeper into the Koronus Expanse, the presence of Orks will only increase and with their increased number, one can expect the prevalence of their unholy magicks to increase as well. So be it. Their number shall be lessened soon enough.

Upon exiting the warp, we discovered the broken remains of the Summer’s Bounty hanging in a stable – if precarious – orbit and an Ork attack ship concealed on the dark side of the planet. Presumably, the Orks would have waited until we were docked with the damaged ship before launching their attack. I set out, instead, to frustrate the Ork Kaptin and draw out his attack. After several hours of maneuvering (and enraged Orkish bellowing over the vox), we turned to engage them. With Victrix’s expert command of the gunnery and the judicious use of atomics, the battle was over before it could truly begin.

We have since entered geostationary orbit over the planet and are making preparations for a ground assault. The command crew and I will make landfall with Bravo company using drop pods. We will conduct a standard assault on the settlement using mortars and heavy bolters to cover our advance. With any luck, we destroyed the Ork vessel before they were able to make communication with their troops on the surface and we will have the advantage of surprise. Once we have secured the outer parts of the settlement, Alpha and Gamma companies will make landfall with ammunition and support vehicles via dropship.

These Orks will pay for what they’ve done to this world. In the Emperor’s Holy Name, I shall destroy them all.

+++RECORDING ENDS+++

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Chief-Chirurgeon Log 10

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 010.1-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Mauritius Shipyard+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

I was met by one Sister Adelaide. The Sister delivered tidings from the order’s monastery, a response to my request for assistance in developing a plague to scour the filthy mutant and xeno life that has overrun Nun. I was shocked to learn that they had created a copy of the collected notes of Alyenikov herself! A most holy honor. These shall serve me well.

The Sister also spoke of a planet, Rosebloom, said to contain an ancient and holy monastery. Apparently it was recently attacked by Orks. She requested that we go there to help safeguard the relics contained there. This is also apparently what the Lord Captain had discussed with his contact at the shipyard so it took virtually no convincing.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 010.2-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Rosebloom+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

The Orks defiled His holy statue, removing it from the surface and using it as a crude ship-based ram on their stationed flagship. The audacity! They received their Justice though as the Lord Captain unleashed Holy Atomic Fire upon them. His likeness was irrecoverable, breaking apart on our hull. I shall take much delight in cleansing every xeno left down on the planet. Sister Adelaide declined to come on the expedition, I do not know why but this makes me feel ill at ease. A soul can not be truly trusted if you can not see how it shines in combat. I shall have to keep a watchful eye on her.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

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

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 010-#.###.041.M42 +
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42 +
+++LOCATION: Rosebloom+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

  • We arrived at the Mauritius dockyards in time to witness the arrival of the Chief Astropath of the Summer’s Bounty, he had, as a last ditch effort, moved only himself and a commanding officer through the warp to warn others about an Ork threat; and seek aid.
  • Despite the strangeness of Orks leaving men alive to be saved, we decided to respond to their request for aid.
  • Upon arriving at the colony Rosebloom, it became obvious that the Orks had left the ship wounded to act as bait (an oddly tactical choice for Orks).
  • We deployed the nuclear missiles that we had demanded at the Mauritius to destroy the Ork vessel before it could effectively ram us.
  • We used our drop-pods to reach the colony on Rosebloom and began to eliminate the Orks on the surface.
  • I’ve learned the true reason for Hero’s posting. I plan to confront him.

.
.
.

Current rations @ 60%

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 010-#.###.041.M42 +
+++DATA-RECORD//END+++

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Character Interlude 001 - Victrix and Hero
Hero's Purpose on the Ship is Revealed

She’d almost missed it. But one of the things that makes Victrix such a frightening warrior, is her attention to detail even in the heat of battle. So she had noticed. And, as much a she didn’t want to believe what she had heard…Evidence and circumstance had convened to make one truth startlingly apparent:

Herodion Nicostratus was responsible for the devastation on Marshall’s World.

But…She’d need to confirm it.

After the battle, she used her “officer override” to break into Hero’s quarters and wait for him. Dressed in the bright colors of her decorated uniform, armed with Ghost and Jackal—the Horse Cleaver at her back, Victrix sat, waiting, in the dark.

Fresh from a shower and thoroughly cleaned up after their mission to Rosebloom, Hero is startled to find Victrix in his quarters. His eyes dart around the room almost imperceptibly, ensuring nothing is out of place. Recovering quickly, his look of surprise melts into a polite smile, “Err, hello Miss Victrix. What can I do for you? I haven’t missed an appointment, have I?”

Victrix is expressionless, completely devoid of the small humor she might show at his air-headed flippancy. She has a coldness in her expression that Hero hasn’t seen since the two of them began playing shōji together.

“No, Nicostratus. I’m here because we need to talk.”

Hero raises an eyebrow. “Oh?” His response is genial, but calculated. He steps into the room and quietly slides the door shut. Gesturing towards the tea set he asks, “Can I offer you some tea?”

Victrix has never been one to avoid conflict; taking the time to greet Hero is a great concession to how much she finds her current mission distasteful. She motions, almost violently, in the negative to his invitation to have tea.

“Are you the reason that Nuxfor is currently infested with orks?” The way that Victrix says ‘orks’ is the way some people swear. It’s a dirty word, and her hatred for the species is blatant.

For a moment, Hero looks genuinely startled. He carefully sets down the teapot, but does not release it. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“You are not dumb. Don’t pretend to be. It doesn’t suit you.” Victrix’s jaw tightens as she waits for his reply.

Hero’s knuckles are beginning to turn white from gripping the teapot. He searches her face, seeking some clue of her intentions. Finding nothing, he takes a deep breath and drops his gaze. All the charm and joviality he usually possesses is gone. In a defeated tone: “Where did you hear that?”

Her eyes narrow as he continues to avoid a direct answer. She doesn’t trust his body language. Victrix knows that he is better versed in verbal sparring than she is, that he is a skilled wordsmith, and she refuses to play any games, “From your own mouth. I came here so you’d have a chance to …Clarify.”

“From my—?" He trails off, a look of confusion on his face.

Victrix shakes her head slightly, and sighs quietly. She lifts a gloved hand to her forehead and rests the weight of her head in her palm. She seems genuinely baffled, “What would ever possess you to adopt a Xeno as a pet? Let alone leave it to wander on its own? In what ridiculous gilded cage did you grow up that you managed to completely avoid the Emperor’s command to kill the Xeno? There is evil in this universe Nicostratus, and while I don’t believe you are under its influence; I fear your ignorance of the universe has done more damage than even you could guess.” She lets her hand drop and looks up at Hero, locking him in her intense gaze, “…And you are in great danger.”

For the first time, Hero’s facade drops. The formerly confident, self-assured nobleman gives her a pitiful look. He glances from the door to her weapons, then slumps into a chair, burying his face in his hands. “Well, better you than him. Please, just get it over with.”

Victrix watches Hero’s defeated slump. It’s obvious by her weighted gaze that she’s considering his guilt. She considers his flippant nature towards his station, and his alien nature to those of the men she has served with and surrounded herself with for many years…She ponders Draque’s mission to make ‘a man’ of the young seneschal. She takes in his defeated posture, and while she is not good at comfort; she is less harsh than she had been a moment earlier, “Someone will be after you. You will need to tell Draque, because it puts this entire ship in danger, but… He will protect you.” Victrix seems to consider her own conviction regarding the statement, she shakes herself away from introspection, “He will protect you, but you must warn him.”

Quietly, almost as if she’s talking to herself she adds under her breath, “You can’t grow unless you acknowledge your past failings.”

Hero looks up, resembling nothing more than a scared child. “Protect me? He’s going to airlock me. He’s done so to others for less.”

Victrix has to work not to scoff at Hero’s incorrect reading of Kavik. Instead, she settles for being as blunt and direct as possible, “You are more valuable than others.”

Hero starts to say something, then reconsiders. Instead, what follows is a deluge of words, almost a stream of consciousness in its delivery. “I….I didn’t mean to, you know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know what it was. I just wanted a pet is all. Something. I don’t know. A diversion? I was terribly bored and the market was selling them and I bought it on a lark. I should have known better. The git was just as shifty as you could imagine, but part of me was doing it simply because I could. Because who was going to tell me otherwise? Father? And then it was so troublesome. Always eating and wanting attention and eating more and so filthy. It was destroying my apartment! So I just…let it go. I let it go and forgot about it. I’d had friends do that loads of times with pets in the past and so I thought nothing of it. And then I left for holiday and heard about what had happened and I supposed…I supposed I just sort of knew. I couldn’t go back. Someone would have eventually put the pieces together. Maybe not immediately, but I couldn’t just stay. So I….I ran…and…and then when we were down on the planet…I saw what they did. The orks. I saw them and I saw what they did and when I looked at that ork ship as it came at us and I realized what I had done and I… I….” He drops his gaze and trails off.

Victrix looks almost sympathetic by the end of Hero’s speech. Afterall, she had, had to talk young men through their first battles, their mistakes that had cost others’ lives, before. She struggles with the fragility and the importance of the confession; almost awkwardly reaching out to pat him on the shoulder, and then aborting at the last minute: unsure if the touch would be appreciated or not.

“I may be more valuable than the others, but probably only as a bounty” Hero says quietly.

At his bitter comment about his bounty she barks a laugh, “You’re not that big of a bounty yet: I should know. Besides, even without Kavik—any ’Hunter would still have to get by me.”

And she smiles, he can’t see her blackened teeth stretched into the grin, but he has learned to read her expressions through the grisly re-breather she always wears. She raises an eyebrow at him, “I have yet to meet the man who could face me in battle and live.”

She’s hardly ever boastful, but she’s a pragmatist: and she’s still alive and in one piece to talk about all her previous battles: and there have been quite a few.

“At the very least, I would imagine that we have become close enough comrades that I deserve whatever meager amount they put on your shoulders.”

She finally gives into the urge to reach across the table and slap him companionably on the shoulder. Thoughts of Dust, of the horrible slaughter of her adopted brethren, flicker through her head. If she can forgive Herodion, so can others. Besides, “One does not become part of the command crew of an acclaimed Rogue Trader Empire without gaining a few enemies.” There is a microscopic pause before she continues the thought, “I, for one, am much more worried about Canseco’s brothers.”

Rage, he was expecting. A litany of “what-were-you-thinking”s, he was expecting. But Victrix’s response? Hero had not anticipated her to be so…forgiving, which perhaps makes the confession all the more painful. He smiles weakly at her. “So you’re fairly certain he isn’t going to airlock me, then? Still, I’d feel an awful lot better about the situation if you accompanied me when I…um…break the news.”

Victrix nods sharply, “I believe that would be wise. We will tell him tomorrow morning.” If Kavik is displeased that she didn’t come to him immediately… She’ll deal with that when it occurs: she thinks he’ll see the wisdom in her choice. The amusement from earlier slowly drains out of her face, and after letting a quiet spread between them, she looks down at Hero’s ridiculously fancy table. “Have you heard about Dust? …More than just old war stories of glory and uncomfortable trenches from Burne and Goat. More than Draque’s line about glory and honor.”

“I can’t say that I have, really. To be perfectly honest, I sort of glaze over when the captain puts on his ‘glory and honor’ bit. Being raised on Caerus Ekho, well, we had our fair share of military retirees and somehow they all seemed to have the same pool of stories to draw from. After a while you learn to just wait for the lulls and mumble a proper response and nobody’s the wiser." He pauses, realizing what she is offering. “But you were all there, together?” he asks.

Victrix sits back in her seat and lets her left hand fall to the hilt of Jackal. She grips the weapon’s hilt until her knuckles turn white, but her posture remains lax. “Dust was a rock. Mostly inhospitable to human habitation, and full of deadly xeno flora and fauna.” She glances up at Hero, “Even before the Orks arrived.”

She shifts her death-grip from Jackal, and her hand migrates without a conscious thought to the hilt of the Horse Cleaver, “The Segmentum Obscuris had reached a mostly stable state from the Ork invasion… Except for this little crap-hole planet no one had ever heard of. So Kavik takes the Cadian 180th and lands, because it has suddenly become the most important tactical location in the entire sector.” She smiles ruefully, perhaps slightly self-deprecatingly, “And he finds the King of Dust. Together, they drive back the orks. It takes several years, and they have to tame the natives; but they do good work. The planet drinks the blood of many fine men…”

Victrix falls silent again. “You are not a monster, Herodion Nicostratus.”

Tomorrow, Kavik will undoubtedly describe in painstaking detail the devastation Hero’s misstep has caused, and will continue to cause. He’ll talk about how orks slaughter, he’ll talk about the necessary steps the Imperial Guard will have had to take, and he’ll mention enraged planetary governors… Shame, guilt, and atonement. Victrix doesn’t need to now.

Hero is clearly still shaken by their exchange, but recognizes the rare opportunity Victrix has given him. “Thank you.” He pauses, and sighs again. “I’m glad one of us believes that.” Then, with a half-smile “…your majesty.”

Victrix gives Hero a flat look, and loses the battle to repress another grin. Despite the rake’s ineptitude, and generally prissy attitude, he seems to have completely endeared himself to her. “Now that you know, you’ll address me properly.” She manages to keep a straight face for only a beat before she laughs—a real laugh—strange and unnerving through the re-breather, but from deep in her gut.

“Well, your highness,” Hero says, pouring himself a cup of now-tepid tea, “While you are here, would you at least do me the honour of a game? I believe the advantage was yours when last we left off.”

In a smooth motion, one that telegraphs that she is, indeed, a predator, Victrix stands. She shifts her weight onto the balls of feet, “It is late, and there is much to do tomorrow. We must meet with Kavik, and I plan to go back to the surface to eradicate more of the enemy. If I survive another day; I would gladly beat you at your own game.”

As she moves past Hero, she pats him on the shoulder, and as she’s shutting his door she turns, “You’ll want to fix your door.” With that, she disappears into the hallway.

It is only upon her exit that Hero notices the door’s loose hinges and the large, metallic bolt-lock that has been broken in half. He stirs his tea and sighs. For now, at least, the repair requisition request can wait.

shoji1.png

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Hero's Diary Entry 10
In Which The End Is Imminent

Dear Diary,
I’ve spent quite a lot of time lately contemplating my miserable existence. Not an insignificant portion of which involves drawing up a will for my inevitable demise at the hands of a horde of ravenous, slavering beasts. Orks, it seems, will be my undoing. Kavik’s orders to escort the away team on Rosebloom have all but assured it. And yet somehow, well, somehow it seems both poetic and fitting. A lyric tragedy to be wasted upon an unwitting captain and crew. And truly, Diary, I am probably deserving of such an end. Staring out the window, seeing those abominations….I shudder when I recall their gruesome faces, the sounds they made over the vox, the utter violence and ruin they embodied. And that is what I let loose, Diary. That is what I did. The captain will almost assuredly airlock me if he finds out. I’ve had no real contact off the ship since I left Marshall’s World. I can only imagine what the planet must be like by now.

If I do manage to survive Rosebloom, Diary, well…we will cross that bridge if I come to it.

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Collateral Damage session 10
The Old Enemy is met again

The Collateral Damage made its way to the shipyard at Mauritius to follow up on Joshua Delacroix’s lead that decommissioned heavy weaponry might be available for purchase.

Hero negotiated with the station’s supply-master while Triox allowed the lead mechanic to tour the ship and examine its archeotech components. Lilyth was met by Sister Adelaide who delivered news from Lilyth’s home monastery as well as a package containing medical research notes.

Kavik met with the head of the shipyards and learned that the commander had three atomic weapons available but requested aid before selling them to the captain. He introduced the lieutenant commander of Summer’s Bounty, a Navy ship which had been attacked by Orks near Rosebloom and left for dead. Kavik agreed to rescue the ship but demanded the atomics up front.

En route to Rosebloom, Kavik and Victrix experienced a shared hallucination of Orks rampaging through the hallways of command suites.

At the planet, Summer’s Bounty was heavily damaged and all but destroyed, but some humans remained alive. Before they could be rescued, Triox detected signs of an Ork krooza lying in wait on the other side of the planet. Kavik cannily turned the ambush around on the Orks and detonated their ship, but not before being rammed with a giant statue of the Emperor that had been looted from the planet below and affixed to the krooza’s prow.

Knowing that the surface of the planet was still under siege, Kavik led his troops down to attempt to reclaim the colony. In the first encounter with a group of Orks, the greenskins were quickly defeated but Hero let slip an inconvenient truth about Marshall’s World

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Non-Technical Records of Genetor Kalin S9

+READ DATA STORAGE DESIGNATE: COLLATERAL DAMAGE S.8+

I acquired a servo-arm for use in carrying the zero-point energy conversion device. Modification proceeds according to schedule. I shall require some days to recover from the procedure.

CD-0003/2 and CD-0003/4 continue to develop well. CD-0003/1 has shown undesirable development traits and will serve as an initial test, but is no longer viable as a primary subject.

+END DATA+

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Chief-Chirurgeon Log 9

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 009.1-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Ratgut +
+++DATA-RECORD+++

We were forced to stop at a more wretched den of villainy than Footfall, though thankfully the rogue witches and heretics I am sure live there in hiding keep themselves more hidden. I met a man, an old Inquisitor who had been broken bodily but remained a burning beacon of faith to The God Emperor in this dark cesspool. After a long discussion, he gave me a most rare and sacred gift, a consecrated flamer, that he himself had personally used to spread His Justice in the Inquisition.

I shall send word to the colony to seek him out and offer him passage back when they arrive to sell the goods reclaimed from the slain pirate. He would make a good adviser to the people of the Lord Captain’s pet colony. I also managed to acquire some damaged Power Armor, I have set the tech priests on it to try and get it working again. Even in the dark, if we look to the Light we find Providence.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

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First Officer's Log IX
5.440.041.M42

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 009-5.440.041.M42 +
+++TEMPUS: 5.440.041.M42 +
+++LOCATION: Ratgut+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

  • We arrived at Ratgut.
  • I accompanied Hero on his resupply run (while Kavik would have liked to see Hero experience the “local hospitality;” I’m afraid my presence may have discouraged this—I admit to having wanted a ballsy enough dipper to challenge us).
  • I turned in the bounty from the Gilded Hook, and refreshed my postings.
  • Kavik and Hero met with Sloan (a buff who was put out by the righteous acquisition of the Gilded Hook).
  • We have been given a task to deliver weapons to Wretched; it has been foisted upon the Gilded Hook.
  • I acquired a new cannon.
  • I resupplied my rations. Fucking xeno scum.
  • We are to travel to the Mauritius dockyards.
  • If I find that Burne and Goat have taken Hero on leave—despite his relegation to the ship—I shall make them run laps until their feet bleed. High ranking be damned.

I have finally sent Lilyth a missive regarding the blood test results. Hopefully, she finds it illuminating.
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.
.

Current rations @ 82%

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 009-5.440.041.M42 +
+++DATA-RECORD//END+++

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