Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 14: Fear Itself
Enginseer Pak & Admiral Black take four engineers with them across to the renegade vessel; stood in the chaos of the frantic engine room of the renegade vessel, Enginseer Pak realises there is heavy damage, pipes hang down everywhere with steam coming from them and there is an air of frenetic activity. Pak sees that the vessel isn’t off Imperial Manufacture (and doesn’t follow standard layout templates) but his trained eye can see that there are parts of the ship reminiscent of older Imperial technology as though their tech had the same starting point. The people running around are wearing little more than combat trousers and oil splattered aprons, Pak calls for the chief engineer and a huge man up to his elbows in mechanical parts with a huge chainaxe strapped to his back is indicated.
Pak can see that the engineer is trying to bodge the damage together, his skill is impressive but nothing like the Mechanicus, it reminds Pak of himself before he was inducted into the Adpetus Mechanicus. Admiral Black notices a statue in the corridor leading to the engine room that resembles a crudely carved member of the Adeptus Astartes; underneath he sees the legend in Low Gothic “In Death and Glory we Honour the Sky Warrior.” He also notices that the figure depicted has pronounced canine tusks and an animal skull on his shoulder pad.
On the Venerus Cornelius is chasing the Eldar ambassador, the Eldar ducks round a corner or the corridor leading to his quarters and disappears, he must have gone inside but the two guards still stationed on his door report that they have not seen him; on the floor of the corridor Cornelius finds a piece of the strange xenos metal and a power cell from the ship as though dropped haphazardly on the floor. Cornelius mentally speculates that perhaps the creature is trying to get power, he uses the shipwide vox system to contact Engineering and request one of the isolation containers built by Enginseer Pak, some engineers show up after a few minutes in response to his call and take the metal away.
Cornelius kicks the power cell away into the shadows at the side of the corridor, when the engineers take the metal he goes to retrieve the cell but cannot locate it.
On the renegade vessel the two teams of engineers bring the systems back under minimial power although more thorough maintenance at a proper facility will be needed in the long term; Pak goes to inform Admiral Black of his progress and sees the statue, he recognises the heraldry depicted as belonging to the Space Wolves chapter. Admiral Black demands that the primitives take him to the captain of the vessel and the engineer (who identifies himself as Jurgen) takes the two of them to the bridge. The ship is slightly smaller than the Lunatic Pandora, it has sacrificed armour and cargo space for speed and has forward facing weapons, it is obviously an attack vessel. Enginseer Pak tells Admiral Black that he thinks the ship could be adapted to their needs should he so wish, at this point the Admiral suddenly remembers that they still have a problem on the Venerus to deal with.
Pak realises the primitive ship is warp capable but he has seen no analogue to the Navigator’s sensorium chamber that they have on the Venerus; he realises that this civilisation must have only just started using warp technology. On the bridge, the captain is dead, pierced through the chest by a fallen roof beam; Admiral Black orders navigation to maneuvre the ship towards the Venerus. There is a bit of language issue since the renegades don’t appear to use the word ‘warp’ but eventually they are able to confirm that the ship can enter the warp under the direction of someone they call the Sjdomann, the language they use seems to be a pigeon-language adapted from Low Gothic.
Pak uses his tech implants to interface with the primitive spirit of the ship; he confirms that it is an attack/escort ship, looking at a schematic he finds a spherical chamber at the centre of the ship linked to the warp engine room. Psk establishes a remote link to the Venerus and begins transmitting the information on the renegade ship across.
On the Venerus York Benetec is in his sensorium when he becomes aware of a bright flare of psychic activity nearby; if the souls of normal people are flickering candles in the dark, the new activity is like a firework or brief explosion of psychic energy that flares up then dissipates; as the soundproof doors of his chamber opens he hears a female voice screaming in high-pitched agony from a few corridors away, York moves towards the sound. To his warp-born perception he can see a flickering green light shining from the corridor, in it lies Dana convulsing, green light shining from her nose, eyes and mouth. Benetec thinks either they’ve moved into an area where the warp and the real world are close together, or some sort of warp entity is attempting to possess her.
The Navigator unveils his warp eye, using the force of his formidable will to hold Dana in place, but he can feel a will acting against his own, trying to undo what he has wrought. Benetec attempts to pull the demonic energy from Dana and nullify it with his own Navigator training, surprisingly the woman fades away leaving York stood on his own in the corridor and the resistance to his will ceases, to his psychic senses it appears as low some sort of log hanging psychic fog occupies the corridors of the ship.
Cornelius is contacted on his personal vox by the haggard voice of Tullius Black who asks the Confessor to meet him in the medical bay,
Tullius is lying in a bed with the left side of his face bandaged, he struggles to breathe but explains that him and his men were heading down to the engineering section when he claims to have been attacked by a particularly nasty hive vermin called a Gloomhaunt that has haunted his dreams since an unpleasant incident during his youthful Spyrer rite of passage on his homeworld. The creature wrapped around his head and the next thing he knew he was in the medical bay, his men claim not to have seen the gloomgaunt and that Tullius attempted to shoot himself in the head with his pistol, if they had not wrestled his gun of him and knocked him out he would’ve succeeded; as it was the shot destroyed the left hand side of his face.
Tullius lays his gambling and falling out of favour at the feet of a philosophy of life being entirely random, he blames the original experience in his youth with the Gloomhaunt; he then shows Cornelius a data-slate containing the camera footage from the corridor where the encounter occurred, it backs up the version of the story portrayed by his men. Apothecarians ask the Confessor to leave, saying that they need to sedate Tullius (who insisted on speaking to the Confessor before he allowed them to operate).
Cornelius tells Tullius to come and see him once he has recovered.
On the primitive ship, Admiral Black asks who is next in line for command, Jurgen tells him there would be a challenge to decide who would lead now Erling is dead; the greatest amongst them would become the new captain.
The challenges would be overseen by the Sjomann, she is seen as a neutral party; since they have defeated the clan ship both Pak and Admiral Black have a right to enter the challenge, only the new captain can authorise complete surrender. As they move to the Sjomanns chamber they are joined by other people who plan to watch or participate in the challenge/trials.
A white haired woman with strange swirling tattoos and a bandana with an eye emblem on her forehead greets them as they arrive at the chamber, she introduces herself as Sjomann Amelie. Amelie listens to Jurgens explanation and agrees that a challenge must be held, she sits on a chair at the head of the chamber that has wires running from it; Pak recognises the device as a primitive form of the equipment that they use to help York Benetec interface with the Venerus.
“We honour the traditions laid down by the Sky Warrior and to prove ourselves worthy our leaders are chosen by a test of arms, in this way do we strengthen our people” – Sjomann Amelie
Jurgen, engineer for eight years, steps forward and Pak challenges him for command of the ship on behalf of Admiral Black.
Pak strikes Jurgen’s chainaxe with his power sword, sending an electrical charge down the axe and causing the bearded engineer to drop the weapon. Jurgen continues to try and fight with his fists, winding the Enginseer but getting close enough for the half-mechanical Enginseer to grapple him.
Staggered by a brutal headbutt from Jurgen, Enginseer Pak’s mind flashes back to the many vicious fights for survive he had to survive in the underhive, crawling his way up from the muck of the hive bottom. His face darkens with an unaccustomed look of rage and he crushes the life out of the burly engineer, finally snapping his neck with a brutal metallic headbutt and dropping the limp body to the floor.
Over the course of the next hour Pak sees off a number of challengers, narrowly scraping through to victory and is pronounced Captain of the ship by the Sjomann Amelie Klok; lost in the depths of his rage the Enginseer has slain at least five of his opponents, although oddly the crew seem to respect this more.
Cornelius contacts York Benetec and explains that he believes that is some sort of warp-entity onboard the ship and hopes that the Navigator can help deal with it; he believes that it is showing people things they fear. Benetec explains he has recently become aware of the entity and that he isn’t sure its an actual entity, possibly being more a form of event or warp-spawned phenomenon. Cornelius suggests informing Lady Decusis-Black but Benetec dismisses the idea.
Exploring the ship with Cornelius he sees that the psychic mist seems to have spread throughout the ship, they meet a crewman who is terrified and believes they have been boarded; realising that this is undoubtably more evidence of the phenomenon but feeling slightly irked, York Benetec recommends that the man go to the bridge and inform the Captain’s wife. The two of them visit engineering where they talk to acting Enginseer Doric Cattilo; they find out that there have been no strange incidents occurring in the engineering system.
Cornelius and Benetec go to the cathedral, the mist actually appears to be thicker there; Junior Priest/Acolyte Didius Julianus Fiscal reports an unusual amount of people at services, Benetec theorises that the increased amount of fear here may have caused the mist thickening. Confessor Cornelius has his priests begin clearing the cathedral and preparing to conduct a ship-wide blessing.
Enginseer Prime Pak continues to interrogate the machine spirit of the clan ship Rod Hant, the records are fragmentary and the clansmen don’t appear to record a lot about society. He continues to establish himself on the Rod Hant clanship as Captain, they appear to follow a martial tradition and, now the challenge has determined that Pak is their leader the clansmen follow his order quite willingly.
Admiral Black talks to the Sjomann and finds out she is one of two Sjomann clans (hers being Clan Klok) who remain neutral in the warfare between the other five clans since their services are so valuable, together the two of them travel back to the Venerus.
Pak works out that the clansmen come from the Endeavour System, they were lead here by the Sky Warrior to claim spoils, the clansmen appear to be referring to some sort of embodiment of their god or a messianic figure when they mention the Sky Warrior.
On the Venerus the Sjomann shudders saying that there is an ill-feeling to the ship, she removes the scrap of fabric to reveal a green glowing warp eye that she looks through, telling Admiral Black that she detects some evil magic at work onboard. Admiral Black gets on the shipwide vox system and asks to meet with both the Astropath and the Navigator.
Buoyed by the faith and chanting of his priests Cornelius begins to move through the ship, blessing the chambers on his route, the crew seem comforted.
Benetec notices a slight lessening of the warp mist density in the chamber and, as Cornelius begins to intone a chant of exorcism and cleansing, the mist almost completely clears from the chamber although their are still traces of it onboard.
York Benetec and Cornelius receive a vox message asking them to meet Admiral Black on the bridge; heading there after completing the blessing they are met by a confused Lady Decusis-Black who demands to know what they’re doing on the bridge.
Cornelius attempts to exorcise the presence using the central point of the bridge (the command chair), however it does little to remove the warp mist, lending credence to Navigator Benetec’s theory that it may be more of a phenomenon than an entity. As they turn to leave Lady Decusis-Black and three of the bridge security guards point autopistols at Navigator Benetec; Confessor Cornelius steps in the way of the potential barrage and orders them to stand down, explaining that whatever they are seeing isn’t real.
Lady Decusis-Black explains that the entity appears to have possessed York Benetec, as Cornelius turns he can indeed see York Benetec hovering in midair with green light spilling from his mouth and the cried of damned souls echoing round the bridge. Lady Decusis-Black uses the vox to call for security, sending out a general alert that Navigator Benetec has been possessed and must be restrained; Cornelius begins to announce a blessing and the false-vision of the possessed York Benetec fades away.
Admiral Black arrives, having heard the alert, and is greeted by his greatful (and now quite sheepish) wife; Benetec attempts to explain that the ship and people onboard are being affected by some sort of warp event that feeds on fear and is capable of creating illusions to further panic people. Upon seeing Sjomann Amelie, Navigator Benetec is able to identify some of the tattooed markings she has as being of the Belisarius Navigator family.
On the Rod Hant, Captain Pak is discovering that, rather than keeping a log the crew have a storyteller whose job it is to memorise their sagas and tales; Pak begins setting up the primitive computer system to record these tales. The clansmen on the ship belong to one of the seven clans called Clan Mord, along with the other clans they believe in the Sky Warrior who founded their civilisation and who recently, as prophesised, returned and united three of the clans and took them on a glorious quest. The other two clans were Clan Klok (a Sjomann clan) who follow a mythical figure called the Byggmeister (a god of secrets and mysteries) and Clan Blod follow a patron god they call Slaktin (god of warriors and fighting). Pak bundles up the information on deities and sends it to Chief Confessor Cornelius on the Venerus.
Cornelius theorises that the Space Wolves chapter of Adeptus Astartes must have passed through here during the mythical crusades in ages past and must have influenced this civilisation; Benetec recalls that the Belisarius family of Navigators provide a lot of their members to the Space Wolves battlefleet.
Sjomann Amelie offers to perform a cleansing to rid the ship of the presence, but that it will involve an animal as a blood sacrifice; Admiral Black has the ship Twistcatcher (mutant catcher) bring up a mutated animal from the lower decks, Amelie stabs it and begins daubing crimson runes on the doors and bulkheads. Cornelius is horrified and angered as he recognises the runes as being similar to those used to call upon the ruinous powers; he attempts to warn the Admiral but, keen to see his ship rid of the presence, Admiral Black dismisses these fears. Realising that there is little he can do to change the Admiral’s mind the Confessor leaves the area and begins whipping the first people he sees into a mutinous frenzy using his formidable oratory skills and the crews fear of the chaos gods; quickly a pipe wielding group of ten angry men join him and begin storming towards the Admiral’s position.
Ever wary of mutiny the Admiral seals the door and calls for a red alert.
Admiral Black contacts the Rod Hant and arranges for Captain Pak to send some of his warriors across to the Venerus to reinforce his positions whilst Benetec tries to explain to the Admiral that this action will only feed the warp phenomenon.
Confessor Cornelius accesses the shipwide vox system in an attempt to stir up the rest of the crew, preaching that the Admiral has been influenced by evil forces, however he is quickly cut off by Lord Admiral Black; whilst this is going on and everyone is distracted, Sjomann Amelie finishes daubing her runes on the corridor.
Admiral Black contacts Da’Duith Iath in his quarters warning the Eldar about the mutiny, however the Eldar is quite dismissive of the danger posed by some primitive humans.
The vox systems across the system crackle and a deep rumbling laughter that sends a shiver through the hearts of all onboard echoes through the corridors of the ship.
As the laughter continues the Sjomann staggers, her nose pouring blood as she clasps her hands to her head; York Benetec is also staggered but manages to remain on her feet.
Confessor Cornelius leads his fired up possé of men towards the Edlar’s quarters, the guards refuse to let him enter, however, with one swift swing of his thunder hammer the Confessor floors the two guards and smashes open the door to the chamber. A surprised Eldar fires a slim shuriken pistol into the mob that surges through his door, tearing flesh and bone apart, however the rest of the mob reach the alien and tear it to pieces; not desiring the corruption to spread any further Cornelius orders them back and torches the remains using his flamer.
Admiral Black is joined by Captain Pak and they begin discussing a way to use the teleportarium to capture the mutinous confessor; Navigator Benetec quietly slips away during the conversation, he notes that the mist level (that has been growing steadily thicker over the last few hours) disappears and the laughter from the vox ceases.
Realising that his cause is lost, Cornelius records a last message, hoping to mitigate the recriminations against those who helped him and dispatches it to Admiral Black via the vox system.
Using the ships sensors to track Cornelius to the Eldars quarters, he also picks up a lot of gunfire coming from the central section of the ship; York Benetec locates the Confessor using his psychic powers and, concentrating greatly, creates a small warp tear that allows him to disappear and step out into the Eldars quarters.
Confused Pak, now picking up two signatures, turns to inform Admiral Black and they notice that Benetec is missing; meanwhile, Cornelius hands his thunder hammer to Benetec and with solemnity commends his soul to the Emperor before drawing a gun and discharging it into his own skull. Benetec contacts the Admiral on the vox to inform him what has happened.
The centre of the ship still echoes with gunfire, Pak locks on to half a dozen of the firing crewmen and teleports them into the glasscrete tube of the teleportarium chamber; they appear terrified and one of them appears to have been almost sliced in half with a large bladed object.
The Admiral leads a party of men towards the sound of gunfire (ordering his wife to take control of the Venerus and seal the bridge), when Benetec receives a vox message that there is a problem with Dana; when he asks what a bellowing demonic voice like a sound from the depths of hell reverberates with painful force through the ship