Having returned to the Venerus following their aborted mission Lord Admiral Black wants to speak to the Adeptus Mechanicus regarding what they have discovered and what possible plans may be required for the future; Enginseer Prime Pak plans to keep the materials recovered from the planet in a shuttle incase it causes any problems and needs to be emergency jettisoned.
Lord Admiral Black consults his senior offucers asking for their council on how they are going to deal with the ancient enemy, tactful as ever Confessor Cornelius recommends holy fire and a thunder hammer, whilst Enginseer Pak suggests either returning to Port Wander or the Decusis system to speak to the Mechanicus; Admiral Black agrees and plans are made to return to Port Wander. Taking the Enginseer to one side Admiral Black asks Pak about his trouble with the Vitanteur Crime Syndicate; the Enginseer explains that they gave him private comm encryption protocol to contact them and that, in return for help, they would reveal the location of the previously unknown area of technology. The Vitanteur cannot legally salvage the tech, whereas a Rogue Trader can, they said that they would lead the fleet there (and forget about their grievance with the Enginseer) in return for a cut of the profits.
Cornelius brings up the subject of the Imperial missionaries lead by Deacon Kiril who were going to the Endeavour system in an attempt to set up a colony and that the system is on their route back; he suggests a quick stop off to refuel and check on their progress, Admiral Black agrees to this and orders the Navigator to make the necessary preparations, Benetec estimates that the trip will take approximately two weeks in warp-space.
Following his explosive experience with the Vitanteur Syndicate, Enginseer Prime Pak reprograms a ships servitor to act as a watcher to his quarters, building in redundancies to fool hackers into thinking they have disabled it but in actual fact they haven’t and it would keep recording the happenings in his quarters whilst pretending activity.
“The Vitanteur don’t seem to be that subtle.” – York Benetec
The end of the Imperial year is marked on the ship by wide-ranging celebrations, lead by the ship’s Chief Confessor and ecclesiarchical authority Cornelius.
“And the ship shall ring out with the sound of our faith.” – Cornelius
About a week into the journey (it is difficult to be exact because of the time distorting effect of the warp and the gellar fields blotting out the starfield) Admiral Black who, like a lot of his family line find the presence of the warp less discomforting than other folk, awakens suddenly in his bed; his wife is lying asleep next to him with her arm draped over his chest and everything is quiet. The Admiral feels uneasy but can’t quite put his finger on why and so pours himself a nightcap, as the spirit hits the back of his throat and he wakes up more fully he can hear a clanging sound like dragging something heavy and metallic along the ground outside his quarters.
In his dressing gown the Admiral explores the corridor outside his quarters, the ship is largely deserted because it is during the night shift but he can’t see anything, however his resolves to continue to exploring the corridors.
Meanwhile in the ship sensorium chamber the Navigator York Benetec is wide awake, his mutant talents piloting the ship through the terrors and dangers of the warp; he becomes vaguely aware of an unsettling influence somewhere on the ship.
Admiral Black turns the corner and is confronted by a crowd of crewmen running in a blind panic down the corridor towards him, he warns then to halt but they pay little heed; he grabs one of the men and demands to know what is going on bu the terrifying crewman simply shouts “we’ve gotta get to the teleportarium and get off the ship, the ship’s going down” before struggling free and running off down the corridor. Admiral Black heads to the bridge determined to find out what is going on; 1st Officer Tullius Black seems unaware of any danger or strange goings on, he checks with the teleportarium but they’ve had no strange incidents – Admiral Black orders the guards doubled by the teleportarium chamber just in-case.
Chief Confessor Cornelius is having a dream about when he was attacked by xenos forces years ago on an Imperial base, he has had the dream where he attempted to place a signal beacon to summon reinforcements many times; this time however when he runs outside with the beacon there is a redemptionist preacher standing there whom he recognises as Zane Cortez (the redemptionist originally from the Venerus, now serving on the Lunatic Pandora). Cortez says in a sorrowful voice “The geller fields have failed and are spawning mutations, we need to make our way to the teleportarium and save as many of the crew as possible.”
Cornelius wakes up with a start in his bed, a fresh sheen of sweat covering his body; suspecting an unholy influence the priest chants communion prayers and calls upon the faith present on the ship (already heightened by the festival) and is rewarded by a slight lessening of the tension/foreboding in his chambers. Somewhat disturbed by this, but resolute in his faith, Cornelius makes his way to the ships chapel. At the same time as this York Benetec briefly feels a lessening of the strange feeling; he contacts the technicians manning the geller field and mentions the strange feeling, they say the field is fine but that the first officer has also contacted them asking if there were any problems and the Lord Admiral has ordered a doubling of the guards on the teleportarium.
Enginseer Prime Pak powers up after his rest cycle to see a device attached to the inside of his door with a blinking red light, he quickly disables the explosive and calls in a fake alert to see if the guilty party will come to check on it. Whilst waiting for his trap to be sprung Pak accesses the memory unit of the surveillance servitor and sees his door open and a member of the Vitanteur he is familiar with from the old days (Ezekial Vitanteur) enter, plant the bomb and leaves.
“Warning! Explosion registered in Sector 5!” – Ships computer
A few moments later a disaster recovery crew arrive, and are puzzled to find no explosion; Pak turns to show them deactivated explosive and finds nothing on the table, he checks the servitor memory and finds no evidence of the previous footage; sees himself reacting to nothing. Shaken, but not wanting to show it infront of the crew, he explains it away as a drill to Recovery Crew Lieutenant Royston.
Pak heads to the cathedral where Confessor Cornelius is preaching to the crew who are not on duty about how the Emperor and his Blessed Navigator will see them safely through the Warp. Pak sits down at the back of the chapel; when Cornelius spots him he hands over to one of his junior priests and leaves the pulpit to a smattering of applause and takes Pak to one side.
Pak admits to being slightly troubled by the events of the evening and is seeking spiritual guidance.
“Although you are not part of my flock I will always offer to spiritual guidance to those of other faiths sanctionned by the Emperor.” – Cornelius
Pak explains to Cornelius about his past with the Vitanteur and how he used to run with them before he was selected to be part of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and how the Syndicate blames him for the loss of some recovered tech and several of their operatives to Adeptus Arbites force. Pak mentions that the Syndicate have made several explosive attempts on his life, that they are well connected and have numerous operatives on-board the ship.
“There is no-one too well connected to be purged.” – Cornelius
Enginseer Prime Pak then explains about the incident with imaginary/hallucinatory explosive and that this is what caused him to seek guidance; Cornelius tells him about his own dream and how he was able to counter it by calling on the faith of the ship. Pak calls in to see if anything unusual has happened and finds out about the doubling of guard on the teleportarium and that the Navigator has also made some queries although this isn’t anything unusual.
Lord Admiral Black has been researching their destination, the Endeavour system, in the ships library- he discovers that the people in the system have warp capable tech, but that they have just started using warp for travel, it has a large white star and many asteroid belts making it slightly hazardous to navigate, the star also throws out radiation bursts in the inner-cauldron area of the system. A low gravity gas dwarf known as Endeavour prime is the largest planet in the system but it is on that planets moon (called Scrive) where most of the life in the system lives. The civilisation is a violent society of clans whose development is held back due to the constant raiding and violence they inflict upon each other.
Fortunus ponders this problem and thinks that the system could do with a strong leader to unite them and rule them, Cornelius agrees that a leader who brings them back into the light of the Emperor’s grace would be indeed a worthy endeavour.
“Bringing savages into the fold” – Cornelius
Cornelius, Pak and Fortunus discuss Paks problem/recent issue and the difference between their two sects; the Emperor embodies both the divine principles and fates of both the ecclesiarchy and of the mechanicus. As they toast to the Emperor, Cornelius mentions how he saw the redemptionist priest and people running towards the teleportarium in his dream; he believes that a part of the crew of a ship remains with it and theorises about whether the ships long isolation in the Sycorax warp storm could have affected it in some way.
In his sensorium chamber York Benetec meditations are intruded upon by a sound like a baby crying; meanwhile Cornelius, Pak and Fortunus discuss whether perhaps some form of entity has managed to pierce the Gellar fields of the Venerus and, if so, what their response would be. Benetec can sense that the sound is emanating from somewhere on the ship but that it is rebounding off the inside of the Gellar fields, he theorises that some sort of entity has become trapped on-board and cannot escape due to the Gellar fields. As the shift ends, the crying stops.
Pak checks out the systems on-board there have been a few glitches in the ships sensors; the odd glitch is not unusual, however during the last day there has been a dramatic increase in the number of glitches; he is able to see that the series of glitches appear to move through the ship during the shift and calculates that they will reach the bridge in the next two hours or so. Pak contacts Fortunus and tells him about something passing through the ship on its way to the bridge, they plan to divert as many of the bridges functions as they can to engineering until the entity/force has passed, hopefully minimising the effects on the ship.
Tullius Black, a distant cousin of Fortunus who has been given his post as a second chance (he never really advanced previously due to his rogue-ish nature and fondness for gambling) is current acting as First Officer of the Venerus and is manning the bridge; Enginseer Pak contacts the senior officers on his vox-link and informs everyone about the entity affecting people’s dreams, he notifies Tullius that systems were to be routed through the engineering section whilst this threat was posed. Tullius asks whether they needed to evacuate the bridge, and agrees to relocate the essential bridge staff (himself included) to the engineering section.
Navigator Benetec explains that he recognises the creature as some form of warp presence but he has been unable to examine it further since most of his concentration is required to pilot the ship; he explains that he planns to bring the ship out of the warp prematurely as a safety precaution. As the discussion continues there is a crackling on the vox-link and the sound of a crying baby; Benetec explains that he has heard the sound before.
Tullius voxes in and asks about the noise, the other senior officers hear Tullius break off and begin talking to someone else, he seems surprised saying “How can you be here?” There is the sound of an impact and the vox-link goes dead. Pak contacts security and they say that Tullius’ last known whereabouts were Sector 5 near engineering and that sporadic gunfire has been reported, a security detail is sent and Lord Admiral Black informed.
Benetec contacts Lord Black and explains that he is planning to bring the ship out of the warp due to the potential danger posed by the warp entity on board the ship; he suggests to the senior officers that, once out of the warp they could lower the gellar fields that are containing the entity onboard ship; however Confessor Cornelius is wary that doing so would simply release a warp entity to menace the world. During this conversation the ship drops into normal space.
The Venerus (followed by Lunatic Pandora) has dropped out of warp space near a gravitational anomaly (the remains of a black hole); their sensors can pick up three other vessels moving through the area. The vessels appear to be of Imperial manufacture although they don’t have any Imperial heraldry, they don’t appear to have spotted the Venerus or the Lunatic Pandora yet, but as soon as the ships fire their engines to avoid being sucked into the gravitational well they will be detected.
Lord Admiral Black orders the Auspex scanners to scan the other ships; he recognises the larger ship as one of the near mythical Adeptus Astartes battle barges that he has only heard of in the myths and legends of the Imperial Crusades; although this makes it doubly odd that they have no heraldry. The two smaller ships are about the same size as the Lunatic Pandora and appear to be escorting the larger of the ships.
The Venerus begins moving towards the ships slowly whilst the Lunatic Pandora fires its engines and begins circling around to the rear of the convoy; Confessor Cornelius makes his way to the chapel and begins preparing the vox systems within to broadcast prayers of battle and deliverance throughout the ship. Enginseer Prime Pak continues to prepare things in engineering whilst linking into the Vox system to ensure that the transfer of command functions is still going ahead; he dispatches his servo-skull to investigate the sounds of gunfire in Sector 5.
Concentrating from the within his contemplation chamber York Benetec projects his consciousness out into the surrounding area, giving him a wide-ranging view of events occurring within the sector; he can see the floating wreckage of some destroyed spacecraft a short distance away from where they are, closer psychic examination reveals the wrecked ships to be the remnants of Imperial supply vessels. The supply train appears to have been annihilated by a surprise attack from the unidentified vessels currently near the Venerus and Lunatic Pandora.
Benetec relays this information to the rest of the senior offiers just as the unidentified vessels pick up the fleet on the far range of their sensors and begin to turn to bring them more in range; judging that they have forfeited any attempt to parley due to their attack on the supply train, Lord Admiral Black orders his ship to begin firing on the main weapons of the battle-barge.
From his overview of the scene York Benetec is able to get the drop on the approaching fleet and the great ship Venerus begins to move forwards; prayers of vengeance and fury against the traitorous dogs who would raise weapons against the Imperium of Man flood through the ships vox systems, spurring the crew to grip their weapons tighter and remain resolute in the face of danger. The Venerus weapons open fire on the largest of the enemy ships, there is an explosion from the enemy vessels as a salvo strikes their engines, unfortunately the Lunatic Pandora’s shooting proves largely ineffective. In response the battle-barge opens fire on the Venerus whilst the escort vessels shoot at the Lunatic Pandora blowing open the cargo bays and causing the loss of many materials before the emergency bulkheads slam shut.
A burst of fire from the battle-barge crashes into the Venerus, causing the emergency measures to activate prematurely, across the ship bulkheads crash down, trapping the crew in whatever compartments they occupied; however Enginseer Prime Pak and his repair teams are quickly able to repair the damaged systems and bring the ship back under control.
Relentless fire continues between the two fleets, a sudden cry goes up from the navigational array of the Venerus “Sir, the engines are firing, it’s like the ship is flying itself!” as the huge vessel moves forwards towards the enemy fleet unbidden by its pilots. York Benetec reels back in his sensorium chamber as he feels a murderous, bloodthirsty and ancient presence pressing down on him from deep within the roiling tides of the Immaterium, calling on his training the navigator breaks off with a scream as his psyché slams back into his own body.
With their engines still firing the Venerus crew manage to fly over the enemy fleet, turning to present their most heavily armoured side to the enemy and thus sustaining minimal damage from the bursts of lance-fire that stab out from the enemy vessels. The two escorts vessels fire boarding pods towards the Lunatic Pandora, the pods grapple onto the hull and begin burning through; a slightly panicked communiqué from Captain Polaris on the Lunatic Pandora comes through on the ship-to-ship short range communications “We’re being boarded, we can’t take much more of this Admiral!”
Gritting his teeth Lord Admiral Black orders the Lunatic Pandora to make the jump into warp space and withdraw as soon as they are capable; with a tearing sound Passacaglia Belasarius the navigator of the Lunatic Pandora drops the ship into the warp, leaving the battle. The Venerus returns fire at the large enemy vessel, focussing their fire on areas of the ship that were damaged in the earlier attack on the Imperial convoy, scoring tears and rents across it’s hull.
Commotion breaks out amongst the weapons crew as, halfway through a prayer exalting the Emperors presence, Confessor Cornelius becomes aware of a strange presence and he is driven to his knees, blood gouting from his ears and eyes, he recovers and staggers to his feet although the gun crew are clearly shaken by these events. The sensors from the Venerus, now at close range, report that the enemy vessel has a weak spot on its hull near the engines, presumably due to damage sustained when attacking the convoy.
The navigator of the enemy battle-barge feels the presence of the warp entity closing around him, however he is still able to activate the warp engines of the larger vessel and disappear into the immaterium; the two smaller vessels continue to fire on the Venerus but cause minimal damage. Taking direct control of the Venerus’ sensor arrays Enginseer Prime Pak uses his tech-assisted intellect to zero in on the weak spots of the two small enemy vessels, picking out spots where the Venerus’ fire could do maximum damage; a salvo of fire damaging the weapon systems severely on one on their target.
York Benetec reels as a deep gravelly voice appears to fill his consciousness, “You have made an enemy this day! You have not heard the last of Lorgar Khan!” He recognises it as a last message transmitted from a powerful psychic on the departing battle-barge.
The sustained salvo of fire from the Venerus takes its toll on one of the remaining enemy as the ships munitions rupture, blasting fire and explosive gases into space. Realising that their weapons are destroyed the remaining enemy vessel with maneuverability begins attempting to flee the combat.
Meanwhile Confessor Cornelius is exploring the damaged section of the ship, he thinks that he sees the Eldar envoy stealthily moving around the ruptured sections of the ship; thinking that by rights this xenos menace should be confined to quarters at a critical time such as this the Confessor gives chase. Eventually the Confessor is forced to return to his chambers, the xenos-scum having alluding him for now, but mentally he vows that one day there will be a reckoning.
A devastating blast of macro-battery fire towards the fleeing ship destroys its engines; Admiral Black recognises from his considerable experience that the ship is now dead in space and will slowly be drawn into the gravity well and its own destruction. The crippled ship broadcasts a message of surrender, begging to be saved from their inevitable death in the terrible depths of the gravity well.
Ordering Enginseer Prime Pak to the teleportarium aboard the Venerus the two of them take a contingent of men aboard the enemy vessel with the crippled engine, planning to take the ship, repair the engines and prevent its destruction within the gravity well.
Aboard the Venerus Dominique Decusis-Black steps onto the bridge, seeing the chaos and lack of clear command structure following her husbands departure and 1st-Officer Tullius Black being reported as being in the med-bays following an injury (although it is not clear how or why), she takes control of the bridge.
“This is Lady Dominique Decusis Black, wife of Lord Admiral Black; in the absence of any other authority I hearby assume command of this vessel. Return fire on the Enemy ship.” – Lady Dominique Decusis-Black
“I knew she was trouble.” – York Benetec
The Venerus fires at the enemy vessel not containing Admiral Black and Enginseer Prime Pak, tearing a huge gash down the side of the ship.
“This is Lady Dominque Decusis-Black of the Imperial Rogue Trader vessel Venerus, stand down and prepare to be boarded. Surrender or be destroyed.” – Lady Dominique Decusis-Black
With their master fled and seeing only death in the coldness of space as their future should they keep fighting the enemy ship surrenders and stands down.
Back on-board the crippled enemy vessel Enginseer Prime Pak has managed to repair the engines (although the ship is still very damaged and its weapons are down), preventing the ship from tumbling down the gravity well.