Into that Vast Expanse
Ten years before the events of the Bottom Line campaign, Aerik Raethos, head of the Raethos Dynasty, encountered sabotage from agents of the Valerion Dynasty. In a remote part of the Koronus Expanse, The Bottom Line’s gellar field was disabled mid-transit, exposing the ship to the raw terror of the Warp.
Over eighty percent of the crew perished in the Warp incursion that followed, including Lord-Captain Raethos and his Laelia Navigator. Aerik’s son Caldar Raethos survived due to High Factotum Gorst’s protection, locked in a cabin against his will as he listed to the slaughter of the crew in the rest of the ship.
When the horror of the incursion ended, The Bottom Line was adrift in empty space without a Navigator. Caldar took command of the skeleton crew and led them on a series of calculated small jumps back to the Calixis Sector. Though effective, the return journey cost the crew a dear price in time dilation as a result of the inexpert Warp jumps. Though only eight months had subjectively passed for Caldar and Gorst by the time they returned home, they found that the Raethos holdings had been abandoned for a decade and picked over by Valerion opportunists.
As Caldar rebuilt his dynasty, he discovered that his father’s soul had been consumed by a daemon named Mammon. This daemon remained antagonistic to The Bottom Line until its eventual defeat at Caldar’s hands.
Through the eyes of the Inquisition
Just prior to encountering Mammon when revisiting the site of the Dark Voyage incursion, the daemon taunted Caldar by delivering the severed head of Inquisitor Hendrik Drogan and a page from his journal. The letter revealed details about the event that Gorst had forced himself to forget.
Naturally, Gorst was at the heart of things. He and the Captain had been through too much for it to happen any other way. It was the Captain’s wish that he himself be sacrificed to save the boy to spare the boy. Gorst and I argued vehemently… but I get ahead of myself.
It was on his third voyage that Aerik attracted the attention of the beast, Mammon. A lesser Gellar Field fluctuation allowed his projection in. He lurked there for years, studying the Bottom Line and those aboard. The daemon became obsessed with the Raethos bloodline; he wanted desperately to become part of their world. Thus, the hauntings began.
The Bottom Line was never a welcoming ship, but under Mammon’s influence, it became a horror. It took us months to find the source, and all the while the beast was growing stronger. It was feeding off of our emotions, you see. I consulted with a colleague of mine in the Ordo Malleus and he gave me the proper procedure for confronting the beast.
Unfortunately, the daemon proved too powerful. Our Ecclesiarch was slain and our will broken. The beast brought us an ultimatum – he would take the boy or a sufficient substitute from the Raethos line. Aerik did not hesitate. The boy was too important, he said. The self-absorbed little bastard could not have know the sacrifice his father made that day. An agreement was signed in blood – over the urging of Gorst and myself. He was lost.
Over his father’s objections, Caldar came aboard on that faithful day. I stayed behind on Scintilla to make arrangements for the family and prepare my Witch Hunters for the coming bloodshed. Gorst made arrangements with the Valerion psykers – their power and flexible morals are well known. Then, they set off on the Dark Voyage.
Aerik never returned and Gorst survived as a man broken. He could not stand the guilt and the abysmal depth of the heresy of what he had done, and had his memories altered to forget it all. This is the one step of his of which I approve. An ignorant mind knows not but the Emperor’s Word. His blame – and immeasurable wrath – was turned on the Valerions. True, they are heretical scum, but innocent. It is a terrible thing to hate without purpose, but I suppose it is better than not hating at all.
The rest of the crew was left in the dark and I was sworn to silence. However, matters have progressed beyond my capacity to contain them. The boy must know what his father gave to save him. The Emperor does not forgive, but rather shows the path to redemption.
The God-Emperor protects.
Lord High Inquisitor,
Guardian of the Calixis Sector,
Servant of the Most Holy Emperor,