A week after the wedding of Lord Admiral Black to Lady Dominique Decusis the celebrations had finally died down on the Hive World and life was slowly beginning to return to normal; with the blessing of the Imperially appointed rules of the planet Lord Corith Decusis enough additional crew members had been recruited from the hive city to provide the refitted Venerus with something approaching a full compliment of crew. Enginseer Prime Pak and Confessor Cornelius were placed on the Venerus (under the command of Lord Captain Polaris Black) and took it back to the Imperial port of Wander, on their way the Enginseer took the time to examine the scarab like creature that he had captured down on the hive city and had held in isolation every since; although the creature stubbornly refused to give up many of it’s secrets the Enginseer was able to establish that the creature seemed to be made of some sort of metallic alloy that shared several similarities with living tissue and that it could interface with/control mechanical apparatus using twin wire-like proboscis that it could project from the “head” end of the creature.
Upon their arrival at Port Wander, Confessor Cornelius, pleased that Lord Black was now Admiral of a fleet (albeit a small fleet of two ships) decided that it was only appropriate that the occasion be celebrated, purchasing two bottles of rare terran vintage wine, a box of cigars and commissioning an especially fine black and purple suit with silver embroidered trim; in addition he collaberated with the Enginseer to obtain a swagger stick topped with an Imperial Eagle and containing a shock capacitor (provided by the Enginseer) built into the other end to act as a surprise weapon. Following his work on the swagger stick Pak visited the Adeptus Mechanicus outpost on the station and was met by senior techpriest Rha-Haz, the same member of the order who originally recruited him into the mysteries of the Omnissiah; he explained about the almost unstoppable meldings of dead flesh and machinery that they had faced on Hiveworld Decusis and about the heretical xenos technology encountered, in response Rha-Haz showed Pak footage from one of their monitoring posts on the outskirts of the sector of an unknown vessel moving towards the rim at tremendous speeds, Pak recognised the same ship that he had witnessed leaving the Sycorax system.
Enginseer Prime Pak discussed the possible setting up of a Mechanicus outpost on Hiveworld Decusis, he was also asked by Rha-Haz to enquire about whether or not Lord Admiral Black would investigate whatever remained of the old Mechanicus base in the Sycorax system, since most of the explorator fleet were on deep patrol searching for the xenos vessel. Rha-Haz strongly hinted to Pak that in return, the order would ensure that Pak’s request for additional shuttle and landing craft would be pushed through the system.
Meanwhile the Lunatic Pandora was still in orbit around Hiveworld Decusis, Lord Admiral Black was showing his new bride Dominique around the ship, she seemed thrilled by the image of her husband, the brave Rogue Trader exploring the stars with his fleet, however a meeting between the two nobles and the surly Navigator York Benetec threatened to sour the situation when Lady Dominique took a clear disliking to the mutants lack of manners and appropriate etiquette; despite Lord Black’s best efforts to smooth over the friction, it was clear that the Lady had already developed a strong dislike of the twisted, hulking Navigator. Escorting his wife to their quarters, Admiral Black bid his Navigator make the ship ready for their journey to the Sycorax system. Upon arrival in the system they were able to navigate the Sycorax warp storm using the knowledge that they possessed from their previous trip of a safe route through, along with York Benetec’s ability to factor in the warpspace drifts over time; an automated probe was launched to scan Caliban II whilst the ship itself continued into orbit around the jungle planet of Caliban IV.
Taking a squadron of troopers and his Navigator, Lord Admiral Black took a small landing craft and began to skim the surface, searching for the area where they had previously encountered the strange almost human xenos creature; unfortunately the area that they had cleared of vegetation had grown back making it almost impossible to locate, however, something just beyond the physical tugged at Fortunus Black’s awareness and he was eventually able to guide the lander to roughly the same area that they had journeyed to previously. Using his ability to peer into the warp Navigator Benetec was able to see that the huge double tree at the centre of the clearing was actually some kind of artificially made entrance into the immaterium that was surrounded by strange, elegant symbols – they appeared to be of the same construction as the symbols seen on the metal xenos creatures although obviously not actually the same language.
In a small cantina on Port Wander, Enginseer Prime Pak was approached by the grimey, dirty figure of the criminal Thomas Vitanteur; tensing slightly (Pak had hoped that they had seen the last of the criminal when they had dropped him and his accomplice the rogue-tech Vorl on Port Wander) the Enginseer felt a thrill of fear when Vitanteur admitted that he had recognised Pak as a person who had double crossed the syndicate prior to his induction to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Vitanteur made Pak an offer, his rogue-tech Vorl had located a potentially new source of technology on a world in the system, technology that a Rogue Trader could legitmately claim as salvage, in return for a share of the profit Vitanteur would provide the coordinates and would forget to report Pak’s identity and whereabouts to his superiors in the Syndicate; Pak agreed to take the idea to Lord Admiral Black.
Meanwhile Confessor Cornelius had visited one of the many cathedrals in Port Wander that issued forth praises to the Emperor, he was surprised at the level of bustle going on in there as people rushed around preparing provisions and items for some sort of expedition; introduced to Deacon Kiril, Cornelius discovered that the old Deacon and some of his congregation were making a missionary expedition to the Endeavour system, a violent and primitive world that did not know the Emperor’s light. The two priests briefly gossiped about scandal in the past of the Black noble family, although Cornelius was careful to play up the virtues of Fortunus Black by comparison to some of his more infamous relatives and parted on good terms with the Deacon, promising to look in on the Endeavour system if he could during his travels.
Deciding that it was time to rendezvous with the Lunatic Pandor at the Sycorax system, Navigator Passacaglia Belisarius charted a course through the immaterium and over the next three months they travelled through the warp to their destination; during these three months Lord Admiral Black had his men survey the planet and had, amongst other things discovered a tree sap with a potential anaesthetic properties that was potential harvestable.
About a month and half into their stay Navigator Benetec began to experience chronic headaches, as did the young girl Dana who had joined them on the planet to advise them on the native animal life, these headaches culminated when Dana appeared to go into violent spasms and had to be restrained by the huge bulk of Navigator Benetec. Outside, Lord Admiral Black and the troops had surrounded the strange “tree” when it had begun to glow, faintly pulsing at first and then bursting into a blinding flash that, when fading, revealed an armoured troup of slender figures lead by an enigmatic individual in some sort of ceremonial robes and helmet, each of the aliens wore figure hugging armour studded with gems and carried strange rifle-like weapons. Lord Admiral Black’s initial attempts at friendly conversation were rebuffed in halting common tongue when the leader of the aliens stepped forward (removing it’s helmet to reveal a pale, chiselled, beautiful face) and laid the blame for the awakening of an ancient evil squarely on the bumbling interference of the original Adeptus Mechanicus explorers of the system, claiming that the only reason this sector still existing was because the enemy had not truly awakened.
Offering to help against the ancient foe, Lord Admiral Black persuaded the aliens to send an observer/advisor to one of his ships, an Eldar called Da Duith Iath was chosen for the mission; although the news of a xenos advisor onboard did not go down particularly well with Confessor Cornelius.