Into that Vast Expanse

Lord-Captain's Personal Log 9
Aboard Ratgut station

+++FILE DESIGNATION: Lord-Captain’s Personal Logfile+++
+++TEMPUS: 5.440.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Ratgut+++
+++RECORDING BEGINS+++

We arrived at Ratgut about a week ago. It’s a fairly wretched place, but we were in need of supplies and there was work to be done. Upon our arrival, Nicostratus finally saw fit to inform me of the betrayal aboard the Gilded Hook by Canseco’s first officer. Fortunately, I had already dealt with the matter, but that doesn’t change the fact that he failed to pass important information up the chain of command in a timely manner. In response, I revoked his shore leave. A light punishment, I know, but I somehow cannot see my way to having him publicly flogged as would be fitting for such a crime. It would bring me no satisfaction and I doubt it would impress upon him his failures more than the denial of his precious “leisure”. Furthermore, I doubt any punishment I could inflict would teach him this lesson any more clearly. He seems to have developed some rapport with Victrix. We’ll see if she can press the point any further.

His failures in espionage aside, Nicostratus has performed quite well in his role as seneschal and purser. We are now well-stocked on provisions and we have found a buyer for the goods harvested from the moons of Ozymandias. I suppose I should say, instead, that a buyer found us. Canseco’s former contact – a man called “Sloan” – is here on Ratgut. After the usual array of veiled threats and posturing, we came to an agreement regarding the archeotech in our hold. Several million Throne Geld and an understanding regarding future procurements seems ample compensation for a month’s work. The man is certainly not to be trusted, but he can afford to pay, so I will continue dealing with him for now. Also, I have to admire his taste in body guards – the ogryn at the door to intimidate and draw the eye from his real protection. I couldn’t quite focus on the man. My eyes would slide off of him or he would fade into the background. Perhaps Assassinorum trained? It will, no doubt, pay dividends to know more. I’ll set De Grave on it.

I also made arrangements with Sloan for the Gilded Hook to deliver arms to a war world in this sub-sector known as Wretched. I am certain that the arms to be delivered were not procured through legal channels, but I am finding that there is little use for such concerns in this part of space. If I had not accepted Sloan’s contract, another, less scrupulous individual would have happily stepped into my place. It is, however, my duty to learn all I can of these matters and ensure the Emperor’s Will is being served. If that is the case, I see no reason why we might not profit in the process. That said, I look forward to the day when my dynasty is secure enough to leave these concerns to others and take the Fire and Sword to the aliens and heretics of the Expanse.

While aboard, I was able to procure a lightly used Hydraphur-pattern chain sword (“only dropped once”) and a thoroughly miss-matched suit of power armor. Some of the parts are quite old and none of it is in particularly good condition, but it’s nothing Triox and his acolytes can’t see to. I am assured that it will be in working order and painted in my colors before we leave the station. It is reassuring to have a slightly thicker skin between myself and the Void.

+++RECORDING ENDS+++

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Hero's Diary Entry 9
In Which Injustice Runs Rampant

Dear Diary,
Injustice is alive and well here in this backwater we’ve found ourselves on. Nevermind the fact that the captain turned on his first officer. Nevermind that he lost control of his mental faculties in the face of danger. No, no. Pray, don’t pay any attention to silly little details such as that. Clearly, if someone behaves in such a manner I am to assume that they are in fine working condition and ready to tend to delicate matters regarding the upkeep of an entire bloody rogue trader dynasty—if you can even presume to use the term with this laughable excuse for a fleet. At least, that’s the lesson Draque imparted upon me when he revoked my shore leave. Needless to say, Diary, I am more than a little put out.

I accomplished my duties on Ratgut in relatively short order. A valiant attempt was made at acquiring real provisions, but it seems this provincial hinterland lacks anything of the sort. Still, I made do with what was available. With much trepidation for my palate’s future, I placed a bulk order of the local export—something which, when viewed with a generous eye—might resemble food. Miss Victrix accompanied me on this particular mission. Knowing her lack of interest in commercial endeavors, I can only presume she meant to keep an eye on me and ensure I came to no harm while planetside. Thoroughly charming girl. Little does she know that I dabbled in the underbelly of society while at university. Naturally, I grew out of that phase, but I don’t believe I flatter myself when I say one never really forgets those skills. Still, it was an appreciated gesture.

It seems everyone on the ship is off enjoying themselves at the moment—even dour Miss Lilyth has gotten into the spirit of consumerism. Honestly, Diary, I’m at a loss. I thought my performance would have at least earned a modicum of respect from the man—I negotiated contracts as an artist paints a masterpiece—and yet here I sit. Meanwhile Burne and Goat, Miss Victrix, and Triox are carousing planetside. B & G continue to send me pictures. While well-meaning it only serves to pour salt in a fresh wound. And, much as I hate to admit it, I’m bored. Terribly bored, in point of fact.

One can only organize a wardrobe by hue and material so many times before it becomes a dull affair, Diary.

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Collateral Damage session 9
Making port at Ratgut

Resuming normal functions after the unexpected Warp incursion left them stranded in dead space, the Collateral Damage continued its previous course to Ratgut under assurances from Orpheus that the way would remain smooth. The Navigator’s actions were true to his words and Ratgut was reached without further incident.

At the space station, Hero informed Kavik of the attempted mutiny aboard the Gilded Hook but this information was too slow for the captain’s approval. As punishment, Kavik ordered Hero confined to the ship when not performing his duties on the station. Hero sulked his way through unloading the archeotech goods and acquiring provisions from the planet’s algae farms.

Their pockets flush with new wealth, the rest of the crew had mercantile affairs to settle. Triox acquired a heavy-industrial utility mechadendrite and modified it to be able to carry the zero-point energy manipulator acquired on Tasdi. Lilyth made acquaintance with a former Inquisitorial guardsman who was proud to bequeath her his flame weapon, as he could no longer use it but could not bear to sell it for lucre. Victrix fulfilled a bounty on the target she had acquired on the Gilded Hook and informed a clerk about the ship’s change in ownership.

This information traveled through Ratgut’s rumor mill and reached the ears of Sloan, an underworld kingpin who had former dealings with Sarles Canseco. He invited Kavik to take Canseco’s place in a trade partnership, the first step of which being to deliver a shipment of weapons to the war-world Wretched in exchange for Promethium.

Kavik was not pleased to deal with this unsavory individual but made arrangements for the Gilded Hook to perform the transaction anyway while the Collateral Damage set off to follow a lead at the Mauritius dockyards.

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First Officer's Log VIII
6.429.041.M42

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 008-6.429.041.M42 +
+++TEMPUS: 6.429.041.M42 +
+++LOCATION: Merv 12RB-75+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

  • The natives of Jeroboam contacted us.
  • Kavik made an example of one of them and established our superiority of their primitive culture.
    We left for Ratgut.
  • During transit we experienced a medium-level warp incursion by a lesser daemon.
  • The creature destroyed a large portion of the munitions decks, and was then caught by the command crew. Kavik experienced a high-stress moment of shell-shock, and turned (when confronted by the abomination) to stab me. I subdued him—had he been in his right-mind this would not have been an easy task.
  • After the battle (easily won by the three not indisposed); I saw Lilyth, and she fixed the gut wound better than I have ever seen similar wounds fixed. I shall have to speak with her about my blood.
  • Herodian seemed extremely concerned for both my well-being, and the captain’s state of mind. It is obvious that he has never seen the madness that comes from prolonged exposure to the front line.
    I am also… Unnerved at how easily Hero seemed to accept the appearance of Chaos.
  • From Hero’s prompting, I approached the Captain to let him know that all is well. We have been hardened by the flames of war, and perhaps we have forgotten how important communication can be.

The pterodactyl’s of Jeroboam do not taste particularly delicious. Despite what the natives believe.
.
.
.

Current rations @ 73%

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 008-6.429.041.M42 +
+++DATA-RECORD//END+++

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Chief-Chirurgeon Log 8

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 008.1-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Merv 12RB-75 – Jeroboam +
+++DATA-RECORD+++

I have heard strange noises from the Engineseer’s private laboratory. I think he may have abducted some of the locals of Jeroboam for his own “studies”. Damn Cultists and there sanctioned heresy. I shall have to ask him for a report to add to my own study once I collect samples from the locals.

Victrix received minor wounds while on some “big game hunt” and allowed me to treat her. I took the opportunity to runt he physical she had so blatantly avoided. I noticed some… odd… things about her. I did not say anything but she must now know I know… this is troubling. I shall need to keep a watchful eye on her now as well… We must always be ever watchful for the darkness inside us all should it be allowed to fester….

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 007.2-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Merv 12RB-75 – Jeroboam +
+++DATA-RECORD+++

We received a report of a lone native speaking a rough Low Gothic and seeking to meet us. The ability to speak to one of them was fortuitous and can only be a sign from the Emperor Himself that this endeavor is worthy. The local was a young adult female, obviously some kind of warrior and told us a tale of ignorant heresy and petty local politics. She implored us to come and aid her father retain his place as a leader of her tribe or something. I collected genetic samples and as much behavioral data as possible.

Uplifting a lost population is always exciting. Spreading His Light and His Justice.

Once we reached the village the locals were, as they should be, awed by our arrival. The woman said we were agents of her “gods” and it seemed a fitting way to ease them into full conversion. It seems that Low Gothic is their religious language, this shall make things much easier.

Some young virile looking male was apparently challenging the current chieftains rule. The Lord Captain executed him publicly, a little flashy and wasteful for my taste. I would have simply hobbled him and used him as breeding stock. I collected his remains, hopefully I can collect enough genetic material to use him for that anyway. I also collected many more samples and treated their currently sick and injured.

No reported plagues and initially they seem genetically suitable. This will make their integration much simpler.

I fear I have reached an impasse on my work on the virus. I must wait for word back from my monastery for their help.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

+++FILE DESIGNATION: 007.3-#.###.041.M42+++
+++TEMPUS: #.###.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Unknown Space+++
+++DATA-RECORD+++

INCURSION. The forces of Chaos emerged aboard the ship causing havoc and slaying crew. I rushed down, meeting The Lord Captain and some others to confront this foul beast and to send it back to where it came from. The Lord Captain seemed to be overcome with some sort of mind twisting warp emanations and lashed out at Victrix. His faith in the God Emperor must have faltered, I shall have to keep an eye on him for any lingering malignancy. It seems that darkness creeps into my life from all sides.

Regardless of the Lord Captains failings, the Boy performed well under pressure and the blessings Sebasition worked into my blade proved quite effective at reminding the foul beast of His Justice. I was able to nearly cleave it in half while it was distracted. It felt empowering to banish that abomination.

+++END DATA-RECORD+++

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Non-Technical Records of Genetor Kalin S8

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

The aboriginals of Jeroboam sent a messenger to welcome us to the planet. Draque and I demonstrated our holy technical superiority to their culture, and they should integrate with relatively little effort on our part.

The barbarians mentioned worship of vultures looking forward and back, but showed no recognition of the Imperial Aquila. Further, my estimated timeline of their arrival here predates the Treaty of Olympus Mons. Again, I sense that I fall just short of Understanding the true situation here. May the Omnissiah grant me insight.

I have conducted an interview with CD-0003 about its status subsequent to first contact with the dangers of the Expanse. It reports that it has felt “strange,” since Kaph, raising concerns that it may have become genetically corrupt. If so, I may need to adjust the sequencing on the test builds. Unable to acquire further sample at this time.

The Collateral Damage suffered a Category 2 Warp Incursion. The Machine Spirit is lightly damaged but will recover nicely. The proximity of the incursion to the storage cache of the Atomics again raises concerns with Draque’s insistence on keeping them aboard. Combat outcomes were largely within projected parameters with the exception that Subject CD-0003 outperformed all models. This suggests that it has been taking part in combat exercise training during the voyage. This may prove unfortunate should forceful steps become necessary for the final stages of the demonstration.

+END DATA+

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Lord-Captain's Personal Log 8
6.429.041.M42

+++FILE DESIGNATION: Lord-Captain’s Personal Logfile+++
+++TEMPUS: 6.429.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Uncharted Space+++
+++RECORDING BEGINS+++

It has been years since I last encountered the forces of Chaos. Though Victrix and I served for quite some time at the Cadian Gate, it was rare that we encountered a sorcerer of such power as to command deamons, but I remember them all. Anterax, the Heretic, who succeeding in summoning the Bloodthrister, but failed to master it. He was the first to die at its hands, but far from the last. Oberog the Despoiler, who led an army blessed by the Unclean One. And Mortarion, A Word-Bearer Sorcerer, who commanded a veritable legion of deamons. Like all who challenge the might of the Imperium, they were destroyed, but not before the were able to inflict significant and lasting damage.

I must remember that even the bravest may quail in the face of such evil. I must remember Commissar Pytrovich, who took his own life rather than continue the charge against the Bloodthirster. I must remember General Hansen, who, when faced by Oberog’s hordes, turned the heavy guns of the 79th Armored against his own men. I must remember Major Killian, leading the charge against the Sorcerer’s demonic host bare-handed, bellowing for the Emperor’s salvation.

I remind myself of their failure, so my own may seem less. God-Emperor forgive me.

The warp incursion occurred during second watch three days ago. The deamon came through amidst the aft munitions decks. I ordered an immediate return to real-space and containment of the lower decks. The horror tore through several compartments, killing all in its path, before we were able to confront it. What happened next was all too familiar. The minds of men were not meant behold such abominations and retain their sanity. It was such that I was temporarily deprived of mine. Though I remember it not, in my rage I struck Victrix before she was able to subdue me. I only wish she had reacted more quickly. Perhaps it was for the best that I was the one who failed to stand before the beast. Had our positions been reversed, I am unsure that I could have stopped her.

With Victrix’s aid, I was able to recover quickly and, through the quick action of my command staff, the deamon was dispatched. I was surprised – and pleased – to learn that Nicostratus stood his ground and fought bravely. Though his confidence in me may be shaken, it seems that at least some of my lessons have sunk in. I hope he understands now the true scope of what is at stake out here. And, though the danger has passed, the destruction remains. We will be long in counting the bodies.

I haven’t slept or eaten since the incident. I tell myself it is because there is work to be done, but I know the truth of it. I fear what I have done. The knowledge that control fades so easily in the face of horror eats at me. What about the next time? Might I be on the bridge with my ship’s vast weapons arrayed before me? That is why there must not be a next time. I must purify myself, body and soul. Harden my will against that which would break it. With the God-Emperor as my Sword and my Shield, I must hold the line.

+++RECORDING ENDS+++

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Hero's Diary Entry 8
In Which A Decision Is Made

Dear Diary,
I can’t begin to describe what we encountered on this accursed vessel. Suffice it to say that, as I stared down the sight of my pistol, I had but one thought, “Not like this.” I refuse to die out here in space. I refuse to die in service to another. If that means a defensive training regimen, then so be it. But I’ll be damned, damned if I’m about to die as some commoner. After everything had settled down a bit, Mr. Triox invited me to tea and was good enough to inquire as to how I’ve fared through the whole ordeal. How someone who appears so very inhuman seems to have a better grasp on humanity than much of the senior staff is beyond me.

And Draque? What of his leadership? At the first sign of trouble—real trouble, mind you—the man went simply mad. We watched in horror as he turned from that demon and set his weapon against Miss Victrix. Thank goodness the dear is fine. I met her down in the med bay after Miss Renatus had tended to her wounds (a bit strange, that one, but one certainly can’t fault her medical expertise). She tried to put on a brave face and tell me it was nothing, but one does not simply have their confidant and partner turn on them with murder in their eyes and not have it affect them. I encouraged her to speak with him once she was ready. As to the captain…I’m unsure whether to pity him or to be furious. My inclination is the former, for as much as he purports to be a shining beacon of strength to his crew, the entire façade was dashed in only a moment. I’ve seen entire careers fall to pieces that way.

Furthermore, It seems repairs of all sorts will be necessary. I’ve tended to the personal, now it’s a matter of assessing physical losses. For now, at least, it seems inventory management and replacement will occupy much of my time. Dataslate in hand, I sought out Burne and Goat, both of whom proved quite useful in damage estimates and cost. With all this in mind, I still hesitate to inform Draque of the seriousness of the situation. Perhaps in a few days, when he’s had a bit more time to process. Besides, I’ll need to inform him of Medoc’s latest report. Goodness knows an attempted mutiny on the Gilded Hook will do nothing improve his foul mood.

It’s a shame, Diary, that not so long ago our largest concern was converting natives and designing monuments. I think I much preferred that to the current state of affairs.

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Collateral Damage session 8
Making new allies on Jeroboam

Kavik brought his crew to visit a sentry at the edge of Light Returned. The sentry reported that one of the natives at Jeroboam had asked for the colonists’ “mightiest warrior” while speaking Low Gothic.

When Kavik and the rest arrived, they found a woman dressed in furs with an obsidian knife who regarded them as emissaries of her gods. She thanked them for answering her prayers for assistance and appearing to her in the flesh. She had summoned them to support her father, who was growing old and being challenged for leadership of the tribe.

The woman introduced herself as Drellna. Her father was Kolpath, and his challenger Seelik. Kavik and Triox attempted to explain their presence in terms of Imperial expansion, while Lilyth took notes on the woman’s physiology and speech. Drellna explained that she was taught this language by her father, who was of the priestly tradition.

At Drellna’s nearby settlement, the crew found Kolpath in the lead of a large group of warriors. All were frightened but acknowledged them as powerful beings. Kavik intimidated them by vaporizing Seelik with a las-pistol and used Kolpath to translate his declaration of leadership. He explained that his people would be settling nearby, and would allow the tribe to ascend into the Imperium.

Kolpath and Drellna expressed gratitude, but also surprise that the star-warriors had arrived “early”. They indicated that legends spoke of an expected return centuries hence, when the warrior-gods would return and the people would be lifted up to heaven on the backs of twin vultures, one looking forward and one back. (This apparent reference to the Aquila drew attention from the crew, but Drellna did not recognize their symbols.) Kavik declined to accept their insistent tributes of youths to bring back with him to the stars.

Ifechi and Thunderwrath arrived to begin the conversion process in earnest, and the crew returned to the ship. Having received a tip-off that they might be able to sell some of their aquired archeotech in the port of Ratgut, Kavik ordered Orpheus to set a course.

The travel was interrupted by a medium-level warp incursion, in which a daemon physically manifested aboard the munitions decks and began tearing through crew and bulkheads. Kavik fell prey to temporary insanity when he encountered the creature, but he was subdued by Victrix. Triox’s accurate gunfire and Lilyth’s blessed blade were able to drive it back into the Warp from whence it came.

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Lord-Captain's Personal Log 7 - Supplemental
4.409.041.M42

+++FILE DESIGNATION: Lord-Captain’s Personal Logfile – Supplemental+++
+++TEMPUS: 4.409.041.M42+++
+++LOCATION: Merv 12RB-75+++
+++RECORDING BEGINS+++

A reply to my astropathic communique to the Lord-Marshal has finally been received by my Choirmistress. The Lord-Marshal’s son responded himself, which reassures me that my word still carries weight among the Emperor’s Holy Legions. Unfortunately, the fleet is unable to spare the resources at this time to aid in purging this sector of space. I suppose it’s just as well. With the resources I’ve scavenged in this system, I was able to destroy the Wanderer and should be capable of carrying out operations against whomever (or whatever) might pose a threat to my interest next. However, Delacroix did mentioned decommissioned cruiser in the dockyards at Mauritius. This could be worth investigating further.

I also have on my desk a report from the Master of Whispers. It seems that all goes well aboard the Gilded Hook. A traitor has been rooted out and awaits my judgement – Canseco’s first officer, a man named Kleave. He shall meet his Emperor at the airlock immediately and without ceremony. His second, however, appears to be far more cooperative. Apparently, Canseco used a port known as Ratgut as his base of operations and had intended to return there after stripping the planets Merv 12RB-75. De Grave seems to think we could profit there just as easily as Canseco. As distasteful as it is to deal with criminals, I believe my reputation in this region might be aided by doing business in such a place. It is long overdue that this journey become profitable and Nicostratus started earning his keep.

+++RECORDING ENDS+++

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