Into that Vast Expanse

GM's log of sixth session
The New Radius does the Inquisition's work for it

(This entry borrows heavily from the “Destruction” section of the Ignum Malevolis article.)

When New Radius arrived in the pocket of dead space where the Ignum had exited Warp, Na-Rami came to the conclusion that the ship was unsalvageable. Its cargo of psykers were surely too tainted to be brought before the Golden Throne, and its crew deserved court-martial and execution for allowing themselves to be overpowered. Even rescuing the ship itself might not prove a profitable exercise, as the Inquisition could not be trusted to compensate him fully for his efforts.

Thus, the decision was made to scuttle the ship.

Na-Rami first ordered that the life-support system be destroyed with a macro-laser battery, but it was too well-distributed among the ship to target. Na-Rami then turned his attention against the Ignum ‘s power core. With no opposition from the ship’s weapon systems, the gunnery officer aboard New Radius made short work of the engines and power systems.

As the warp drives burst in a flash of warp energy, the astropathic choir detected several secondary Warp traces aboard the ship. Choirmaster Jemidar Archis sent out a signal of telepathic interference to prevent further deamonic summoning, but two entities had already been summoned. The crew and psykers were dead or dying, but now the daemons had to be stopped.

Flight leader Quintus Hexus personally led a squadron of fliers to perform bombing runs on the Ignum as New Radius ‘s single laser battery continued firing. As a final salvo, one crewman attended a suicide mission to deliver a payload of melta-bombs to the ship’s bridge where the daemonic presence was strongest.

Explosions rippled the ship and set free the crackling Warp energy that had been contained within the warded hull. Na-Rami ordered an emergency beacon be erected to warn future travelers of the site of the incursion, then had Vesper Nemo bring the ship into Warp and away from the wave of destruction emanating from the ruined ship.

The two daemonic presences had managed to ride the wave of destruction and cling to the ship’s gellar field as New Radius translated into the Immaterium, however. As Vesper charted a desperate flight back to System 5337-1007, Jemidar led the choir in strengthening the field to keep the daemons at bay.

Since their etherial claws were hooked into the gellar field, the daemons remained with the ship when it translated back into the system. Na-Rami’s sense of tactical history gave him an idea for how to leave them behind, and he passed orders on to the crew. In a tense display of coordination, Jemidar brought down the gellar field and Quintus twisted the ship’s thrusters so that the daemons were bucked off into one of the gravitational riptides that plagued the system.

Though the situation had been nerve-wracking, very few lives were lost in the maneuvers. The crew celebrated and the death cult held a memorial for the individual who had sacrificed his life to deliver the melta-bombs.

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Quintus Ruminates (#2)
There Ain't No Party Like a Death Cult Party

Cause a death cult party has Captain Satrius playing the harpsichord and me trying my hardest to make a damn fool of myself.

So while I’m in the underdecks fraternizing with the crew, Jemidar’s astropaths hear some psychic distress call from an imperial vessel. Seems that a psycher transit ship has lost control of its human cargo and the crew is loosing the battle to fend them off. Not a pretty predicament to be in. Captain wants to go out and blow the whole thing to smithereens, but kind-hearted Jemidar is all worried about saving the crew. Don’t think I’ve ever seen her so worked up about something. She actually stormed out on the captain, leaving the matter all unresolved.

Of course Vesper and myself are there watching the whole thing unfold and the shark-toothed bitch has the gall to question Jemidar’s loyalties. Pious Jemidar! As far as I’m concerned, a little conversation about the fate of this ship never hurt anyone.

Anyway, so it’s into the warp again. I fucking hate the warp. I figured I’d start to get used to it, but it only seems to be getting worse. Now it’s giving me nightmares.

I wake up on New Radius, but not in my bunk. In the crew lodgings on the lower decks, as far as I can tell. It’s dark and hot and quieter than it has any right to be. And before I have time to start wondering what I’m doing down there I hear him. The telltale thunk of his peg leg on the metal floor. How foolish of me to think I was free of him.

He calls out my name, echoing down the rows of bunks, making my breath catch in my throat. I’m running for the door, scurrying between the bunks, hoping that the shadows hide me from his sight, but I’m out of luck. He sees me, outlined by the light from the other side of the door. It slams closed a moment short of my dash for freedom. I have no choice, I must face him.

His voice bellows and I can hear the revving of his chainsword. All I have on my side is speed. I climb to the top level of a bunk and when he passes by in search of me, I jump, wrapping my arms tight around his throat and holding on for dear life. Somehow I manage to wrest the chainsword from his grip and it spins across the floor. Before I can think, I have it in my hands. It cuts through the flesh of his neck so smoothly, spattering me with his hot blood. I can taste it in my mouth. And I remember, as his body flops to the floor: I never saw him die. I never saw him die.

So I wake up in my own room sweating and gasping for breath. I figure it has to be an effect of the warp. My brain’s pretty good at leaving what’s in the past right there where it belongs, and it’s a good thing, too. There’s no curse quite as bad as a good memory.

And after all that, I have this damn death cult dedication ceremony to go to. Seems that the crew has realized what really happens to the people summoned to the black-eyed bitch’s quarters, and instead of being repulsed, as any reasonable being would be, they want to worship her. Fucking death cult.

It’s all verbose sermons and saccarine hymns, so I stand in the darkest corner I can find drinking the strongest liquor I can find, trying to ignore the fact that this is a group of people who honestly believe that the point of life is to toil for the Emperor only so one can die and toil for the Emperor for all eternity. Not much of a payoff if you ask me. Fucking death cult.

Anyway, seems that I made some uncouth comments about our excellent and admirable abomination of a navigator before Jemidar had me swept off to my room. Good old Jemidar. Piousness and freaky eye-sockets aside, I’ve met very few people in this world who genuinely care about others, and she’s one of them.

By some terrible twist of fate, the priest she sents to take care of me has a goddamned peg leg. I almost put a bolt into him through my door. Good thing I thought twice about that.

So we came out of warp in the middle of nowhere and Captain and Jemidar are back to arguing about how to deal with the whole psycher ship issue. I just want something to do. Something to shoot.

And then I remember: I’m not worried about not seeing his body. I know I did not fail. It is only that I wish that I was there to see him – to see all of them – die.

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GM's log of fifth session
The New Radius crew attends a party

Having received a distress signal from Ignum Malevolis, one of the Inquisition’s Black Ships, Jemidar advised the captain that he come to the ship’s aid. After some debate it was agreed that the situation would be scouted and if the crew could be rescued, they would—but Satrius would not endanger New Radius for a ship of psykers.

The journey through the Warp began and Vesper displayed the cruel power of her psychic augury. A bulletsmith came willingly to the Navigator’s chambers and allowed her cranium to be exploded in order to further the ship’s (and the Emperor’s) wishes.

As a side effect of warp travel, Quintus was visited by a hideous Warp shadow from his past—his former captain and captor, whose shade appeared in Quintus’ bunk with glowing red eyes and a thirsty chainsword. It was only a dream—but a very convincing one.

Meanwhile on the journey Satrius accepted an invitation by the head of the ship’s Imperial cult to attend a dedication ceremony for the shrine honoring the Catalogue of the Damned. Satrius treated those in attendance to a stirring harpsichord performance, followed by a very long sermon. Quintus was still rattled, drinking to calm his nerves, and carried on inappropriately.

Upon arrival at the Ignum Malevolis‘s coordinates, a scouting fly-by revealed that the mutinous psykers in control of the ship had no weapon capabilities. Still cautious, Satrius considered blowing the Black Ship out of the sky but agreed to attempt to rescue the crew and disable the ship’s life support first.

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Septima's Letter to Marcus
Raising doubts about Nihilius

+++Encryption begins+++
+++Laelia protocol 034e-2+++
+++Personal protocol: Tertius Marcus Albus Sinister+++

Uncle,

The voidsman whom you recommended to The Bottom Line has distinguished himself admirably in the service of Lord-Captain Raethos. His skills in piloting and marksmanship are unparalleled, and his silent and vacant composure belies a keen mind: on more than one occasion has he demonstrated intellectual prowess far beyond his expected level.

For some time I believed that he was simply a unique individual, talented above and beyond his peers. The Emperor’s hand does not form all men to the same mold, and in every generation there must be those who excel and those who disappoint. (How well we know this truth within our own line!) However, it has recently come to my attention that de Wolfe’s mental acuity and focus have a much more unexpected source: the man is an undiscovered psyker.

I trust you implicitly, Uncle, and when you told me that de Wolfe’s reliability was beyond reproach I believed you. I did not raise a cry at his attraction to xenos garb and relics, not even his repulsive voidsuit that seems bonded with his flesh. But now I beg your guidance. What specific assurance can you give me that this man will not bring ruin to our vessel and tarnish our family name? How can I, in good conscience, not hand him to the witch-hunters at the nearest port?

Not three hours ago, de Wolfe caused a massive Warp destabilization in the apothecarium of our sister vessel, the Hostile Takeover. The ship’s hull was buckled and several dozen infirm crewmen were slain. The Lord-Captain’s ire fell upon a newly acquired medicae whom he believed a heretic, but I knew the truth and I did not correct him. De Wolfe knows that I protected his secret, and claimed that the destabilization was entirely accidental. For now, I believe him.

I do not believe that de Wolfe has an evil heart, but I fear that he may inadvertently cause disaster. You know as well as I that the corruption of Chaos is insidious. As Navigators we are trained from birth to shelter our charges from the Immaterium and keep the terrors of the Warp at bay. With no such training of his own, how can he possibly do the same?

+++Encryption ends+++
+++Dataslate wipe will commence in 7 seconds++

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New Radius Interlude
Some downtime between sessions

Mining operations

The crew of New Radius goes about setting up mining operations on the peak Quintus scaled in the previous session. In addition to gold deposits in the cliff by the waterfall, the cave by the tree line revealed a large concentration of geodes. Both these resources can be exploited and processed by the refinery ship in your fleet, and their products sold for profit once you return to the Imperium. This can produce an immediate +2 Profit Factor, or you can take a +1 bonus instead in order to leave infrastructure in place and generate +1 Profit Factor every time you return to the system. If you want to set up a full-scale mining colony then it will require a net expenditure of Profit Factor immediately, but may give you substantial return on investment.

You continue to encounter no wildlife on the slopes of the mountain in the petrified rainforest, which makes the presence of the large, aggressive beast a mystery. However, your mining crews discover several more of the beasts within the caverns of the geode mine. Most of them appear to be in hibernation of some kind, but the conscious ones put up a considerable fight.

Abandoned station

Above the atmosphere of the planet, your guardsmen also investigate the small station in geosyncronous orbit above the ruined domed colony. It is cramped, large enough for only a few individuals at a time. The technology is well-preserved but many of the choicer archaeotech components have already been salvaged, presumably by the crew of His Will Be Done when the Vestralis vessel passed through this system 500 years ago. However, you are able to salvage a fair amount materials and circuitry. You may barter these to an interested party for a one-time bonus to an acquisition test, or you can turn the pieces over to your Enginseer aboard New Radius to see if he can integrate them with the ship’s systems.

The station also contains a single damaged Mars-pattern archaeotech void-suit, alone on a rack built for two suits. (It is not clear why the Vestralis crew did not salvage it as well.) At the control center of the station sits the mummified body of the suit’s owner. The Mechanus implants in the body bring you to the shocking revelation that this station, evidently created during the Dark Age of Technology, was an outpost not of the Empire of Terra but rather the Empire of Mars.

Eldar webway gate

The station was evidently built to observe the massive xenos artifact orbiting the planet. The shattered artifact is a large ring with sections missing (presumably captured by the planet’s gravity well and incinerated in the atmosphere). Those of the crew who were present during New Radius’s trip across the galaxy note that it bears strong resemblance to the Imperial warp gates used in travel there. While none identify the technology as “Eldar”, they all recognize it to be strangely beautiful.

Astrogative augury reveals that the planet the gate orbits does not follow an elliptical path around its sun but rather shuffles its way through the gravitational riptides present in the system. It is likely that one of these riptides was responsible for the destruction of the gate.

Loot and rewards

As bookkeeping, here is a compiled list of materials and relics salvaged from His Will Be Done on Arck, the ruined colony on the planet below, and the orbital station.

  • One unpowered power-gauntlet from a locked cage in the HWBD armory
  • Several purple crystals imbued with psychic presence (already sent through the airlock)
  • One compact archaeotech chameleoline cloak from the recesses of the planetside bunker
  • One damaged archaeotech mars-pattern voidsuit from the orbital station
  • One ceremonial chainsword from the HWBD’s captain’s stash, stamped with an ornate seal of the Imperial Navy
  • One folded Navy officer’s uniform, fitted for a heavyset woman
  • Several bound sheafs of sheet music, apparently an original composition by the HWBD’s astropathic choirmaster
  • Star charts detailing the location of a life-supporting planet with great mineral wealth, marked for colonization by another Vestralis fleet
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GM's log of fourth session
The New Radius crew climbs a mountain

After encountering a mysterious mold that matched samples found in the captain’s cabin of His Will Be Done, Satrius ordered a timid field medic to examine the spores. She could not determine anything useful, but everyone agreed that it wasn’t a good thing that the growth pattern on the wall faintly spelled out the words SAVE US.

Satrius ordered a sweep of the bunker and the medic was able to redeem herself by finding an ancient yet functional chameleoline cloak. Finding nothing further of value and wishing that any biological taint be destroyed, Satrius had the bunker destroyed with melta-bombs.

The geological survey crew reported nothing of interest across the rest of the planet, save for a distinctive mountain peak in a petrified temperate rainforest on the middle continent. Wishing to form an exercise for the crew, Satrius ordered Quintus to scout a path through the forest to the peak and clear the way for the captain to investigate.

Quintus took Jemidar, Rocky, and a few guardsmen on motorbikes and began traveling up a mountain river starting at an ocean delta. They made good time but did not encounter any indigenous life forms along the way. Shortly before reaching the tree line the path of the river was interrupted by a waterfall. Quintus and Rocky were able to portage their bikes up a nearby landslide and use demolition charges to smooth a path for the captain’s hovertank. In the process, they discovered gold deposits in the hills.

Satrius entertained Vesper and the crew for some time playing on his organ, then set off in the hovertank once the ground team had enough of a head start. They followed the course of the river, and a few miles after the rockslide on the cliff they came to a spot where the river emerged from a cave. Quintus and Jemidar returned from the peak (having planted an aquila beacon, there was nothing left to do but admire the view) and joined the captain in investigating the opening.

First an unfortunate crewman (one who had failed at driving the tank through the snow earlier) was sent in alone. He reported seeing beautiful crystals inside the cave, but was slain by an undescribed beast that lurked there. Quintus brought the full power of the tank to bear on the creature within the cave, and it was quickly overcome.

The “beautiful crystals” turned out to be a vein of perfectly formed geodes. Combined with the gold deposits in the mountainside, Satrius had found a profitable cache of ornamental goods to sell once his ship returned to the Imperium.

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Septima's Personal Log #2
In orbit above Orn

There truly is no rest for those who search. We would do well to remember the Imperial Creed: The path to enlightenment is a maze with no exit. Were our need for these charts not dire indeed, our search would surely be abandoned as a fruitless venture.

From these words it should be easy to deduce that the Astartes did not in fact find our star-charts in the wreck on Orn. The cruel irony is that the Drusian charts contained in the ship’s logs were for another part of the Expanse entirely. They should prove profitable for our family to exploit—but they bring us no closer to our goal.

The Astartes also reportedly recovered a holy relic of great significance. They refuse to describe it directly, but the hushed tones of the communications sergeant imply that it is valuable indeed.

As for the xenos threat, it was well that our crew did not land aboard the planet after all, for the Astartes discovered a hive of aberrations who had forsaken the Imperium of Man and whose martial prowess was fierce indeed. To hear the communication sergeant tell it, the survivors of the crash had been infected with the xenos contaminants aboard the ship, and interbred with the natives of Orn. Though they claimed to worship the Emperor, in reality they bowed before a twisted, monstrous idol soaked in blood.

Ultimately the Astartes were forced to battle a xenos colossus. Auspex interference prevented us from viewing the battle but their reports claim it was hundreds of feet high, with fearsome teeth and tentacles that could skewer a tank. We are told that one of the Ultramarines, Claudius, gave his life that this beast might be defeated. Our own fleet contributed in no small manner as well—the Hostile Takeover fired a lance that exploded the plasma core of the downed ship and incinerated the burgeoning xenos hatchery within, and The Bottom Line fired the first macrobattery salvo that foreshadowed the coming Exterminatus.

Lord-Captain Raethos allowed us to watch the bombardment from the observation deck. Although it brought us no closer to our goal, I derived some satisfaction in seeing the planet burn. Despite the enormity of our task, I can still find solace in the words of the Creed: When there is no exit, there is no fear.

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Septima's Personal Log #1
In orbit above Orn

+++Encryption begins+++
+++Laelia protocol 034e-2+++

We have continued from Vaporius in pursuit of the Drusian star charts that will lead us to the Eldar craftworld within the ‘Undred ’Undred Teef where the secret to rescuing Lord-Captain Raethos’ dead father’s soul awaits. When I think back to my first days aboard The Bottom Line, I would never have expected to find myself embroiled in such tangled plots of Xeno and Heretic—but Caldar Raethos is a good man, and his enemies threaten us all. Surely there is dispensation in the Emperor’s eyes for those who transgress in His service.

+++Encryption ends+++
+++Cleartext transcription resumes+++

The journey has placed us in orbit around Orn, a savage and jungled world. We are not the only agents of the Imperium to have come to this place. The Lord-Captain is currently engaged in talks with a captain of the Deathwatch, whose battle-barge we encountered upon arrival. It would seem that the charts we seek were carried aboard a starship which crashed on the planet’s surface—but its cargo was not limited to Drusian maps and other holy relics. It also held biological samples of unknown xenos origin. According to recovery surveys, this biological contaminant has infected the planet’s surface and rendered it unsafe for travel. The planet has been scheduled for Exterminatus for several hundred years, but not before the relics can be recovered.

The Deathwatch captain insists that we remain in orbit while a company of Space Marines retrieve the relics and assess the xenos threat. His commands bear the weight of the Adeptus Astartes and I am loathe to disagree. It will be a reprieve for another to bear the burden of recovery for once.

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GM's log of third session

Hexus began the session by leading a team in a submersible to investigate the other half of the downed His Will Be Done. Archis set up a mind-link for all the crew so that their thoughts could be shared.

Quintus discovered that about half the prometheum supply was still intact, and so Na-Rami ordered the engineers to retrieve it. By slicing through the hull and magnetizing the fuel containers, they were able to float it to the surface. Meanwhile, Hexus began exploring the rest of the ship, discovering an unpowered powerglove in the armory. In the captain’s quarters he found most of the organic material destroyed by mold and rot, with a lockbox hidden in the remains of a wooden desk.

Returning from the downed ship, the retrieval team found that a large, eight-pointed starfish had covered the submersible door. Hexus drove it away with his new storm bolter.

Back aboard New Radius, the combined intimidating qualities of Archis and Nemo inspired the engineering team to get the lockbox open very quickly. The contents included some personal photograms, xenos jewelry, and some purple crystals that emanated a psychic presence.

Na-Rami ordered Nemo to set a course for the last system that Vestralis had visited, noting a large xenos influence. Upon arrival, the ship detected several gravitational anomalies as well as a half-destroyed Eldar webway gate orbiting a planet. The planet also had a small station in geosynchronous orbit above the remains of a pre-Imperial colony.

In the ruins of the colony, the command bunker contained samples of the same mold found inside the captain’s cabin of the crashed ship, appearing to be growing on the wall in a pattern resembling the High Gothic phrase “SAVE US”.

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Archis' Report S3 NR: Crafted Abominations
New Radius, S3

In the ruin of a dishonored vessel did the New Radius find xenon artifakts, cursed things with the vestige of psykik violation. They were sent to burn in the sun’s heat, cold in comparison to His hatred, gentle in comparison to His wrath. Maps led the New Radius to the source of this filth, a solar system untouched in recent memory, but marred with history. An Eldaar Warp Gate hung broken in eternal orbit, and nearby watched desolate shards of archaic human settlement, tainted with the blasphemy of children born before a father. Memory of their inevitable death lay etched for centuries, waiting for a witness: SAVE US, it called, crying out from darkness in yearning for a Saviour they could not know.

Be not tempted by the works of the Alien, for they are abominations.
- Book of the Emperor

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