Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy

Twisted Flesh
Nebula studies the Haemonculi tome

The writings in the arcane tome were grotesque.

Stretching, twisting and stitching flesh. Injections of unguents and strange humours. Metamorphosis from the natural to the unnatural. Abominations of sinew and bone and ichor. Drained of blood, drenched in preservative chemicals, a perverse mockery of the living. The art of the Haemonculi was abhorrent.

Nebula was fascinated.

She had read the flesh-bound book of Haemonculi secrets, front to back, several times. In her studies of the Stryxis, she had seen bizarre and unnatural methods of crafting flesh, in the form of their vat-grown laborers — yet they paled in comparison to the aberrations of the Haemonculi Covens.

What interested her more, though, was the writing in the margins, the notes written by one Krezriel Srak — perhaps the Haemonculus who had entrusted her with the book in the first place. He — or perhaps she, as one could not tell, so twisted was its flesh — had a number of criticisms of the flesh-crafting techniques outlined in the book. Krezriel regarded it as mundane, simplistic, and juvenile.

The mark of a novice; these stitches wouldn’t hold under the strains my own creations are subjected to. They’d have to be reinforced from within, stretched over a mantle of bone, fused with additional tissues. Hardly a technique worthy of praise among the greater Covens


There were many such notes, condescending comments about better practices. Nebula was taken aback by this. This twisted art was unlike anything practiced within the Imperium, and yet Krezriel regarded it with disdain.


The reason for Krezriel’s mockery came as a shock to Nebula, when she found it.


I grow weary of such methods as this. A hack here, a stitch there — butchery better suited to the arenas of the Wych Cults.


Where is the patience? The art? We are gifted with the longevity to scheme for eons — can we not exercise such patience in our research… in our craft?


For all the mastery we claim to have over the crafting of flesh, our experience pales in comparison to that of Navis Nobilite — the Navigator’s of the Imperium. They do not cut, tear, or stitch the flesh; they do not engage in the swift butchery that we Haemonculi revel in. Their craft is a meticulous, slow process, artfully manipulating the very essence of organic life — genes.


Generation after generation, they carefully guide the evolution of their own genes, through selective breeding, careful mutation, and other methods yet unknown to me. They have created a gene so rare, so precious — the third eye.


Though it is a slow process, for their insignificant lifespans, we Haemonculi are above death — surely, we can exercise such patience.


Nebula shuddered at the thought — the Dark Eldar Haemonculi were envious of the Navis Nobilite.


Near the end of the book, however, she found an entry that made her blood chill. Those pages seemed to be outlining a technique for creating a creature that was resistant to the chaotic energies of the warp. Scrawled in a sickly green-black ink, Krezriel had written —


This technique has proven inadequate for our designs. Commissioned by the Coven of Twisted Bones, I have begun investigating an improved method. Currently sending agents to House Ilioneyse of the Navis Nobilite to uncover the secrets of their craft.


There it was — her family’s own name. How long had the Dark Eldar been watching her house?


And why did that fill her more with excitement, than with horror?

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Whispers from the Skull
Inessa hears a voice that had remained quiet for a long time

“I’m concerned about Cognatius,” said the skull, as it drifted through the air alongside Inessa, causing her to jump. “His crusade, it wears him thin.”

Inessa grabbed hold of her servo-skull, drawing it close to her body and ducking around a corner into an empty corridor. A quick glance around told her that she was alone — she worried what could happen if these words fell on any ears but her own.

Her servo-skull had spoken before — but only once — the day her brother had died. As her brother died, bleeding out from wounds inflicted by their own sister, Nadya.

Inessa couldn’t help but to think back to that day, that moment, as her brother uttered his last words —

“Almost found it….” her brother had said, voice weak, tinged with the delirium of the dying. “The tomb. The skull. I followed the skull and I almost found the tomb.” He laughed, then coughed, flecks of blood spattering his face. He groaned, “I’m not going to finish it. I’m dying here, and I’ll never find the tomb…” Suddenly, he reached out and gripped Inessa’s arm with a strength born of desperation. His eyes wide, he spoke to her, “You need to finish it… you need to finish what I started. Find the tomb. The truth lies within the Tomb of St. Cognatius. They’re going to try to stop you — the Ecclesiarchy will do anything to preserve the legacy of St. Drusus; your sister will do anything to protect the Vendigroth name — but you need to find it. Find the tomb. Follow the skull. Follow the skull and find the tomb… ”

Then he died.

Inessa had then looked up at the servo-skull, hovering over the corpse of her brother, hollow eye sockets meeting her gaze.

The skull tilted to the side, as though it were still alive, still attached to a body, and still capable of expression.

“Orthesian,” came the hollow, digitized voice of the servo-skull, before drifting off.

Follow the skull and find the tomb….


And here she was, two years later, having followed the skull, and it’s singular utterance, bringing her across the stars and into the service of an enemy to her own blood. And in all that time, the servo-skull hadn’t said another word…. Until this moment.


“I’m concerned about Cognatius; his crusade, it wears him thin.” the skull repeated. “I’m concerned about Cognatius; his crusade, it wears him thin.” The way it was said… each time without variance, not in pitch nor tone nor pacing. It was a recording.


“I’m concerned with Cognatius…”


Inessa slumped to the ground, listening to the skull repeat it’s sentence, again and again.

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Running Diagnostic...

“… end diagnostics,” concluded the emotionless drone of the servitor’s voice.

Lumi frowned. That was another one.

“Servitor Penance.3141-R, repeat diagnostic: M1.r Life Sustainer; Runtime,” she ordered; she had to hear it again.

“Running diagnotstic: M1.r Life Sustainer; Runtime,” the servitor began, its cogitators whirring to life as it communicated with the machine spirit of the life support system. One by one, it listed the myriad components and functions of the M1.r Life Sustainer, reporting on its current status, as well as any past errors. Lumi listened intently, seeking for any discrepancies that could explain this anomaly.

“Total System Runtime — 62,074,938 Hours.”

That was it, again. The number she needed to hear.

The M1.r Life Sustainer had been running for 62,074,938 hours. Impossible. That would mean that, at some point between when the machine spirit of the Prometheus was first roused, in M33, and the present day, there were 8,059,245 hours that the M1.r Life Sustainer had been inactive. Nearly one thousand years.

“Cancel diagnostic,” Lumi interrupted, and the servitor ceased its monotone speaking. “New diagnostic: M1.r Life Sustainer; Downtime.”

“Running diagnostic…”

This time, Lumi wasn’t just listening for a specific piece of data — she was taking in everything that servitor Penance.3141-R was saying and adding it all together in her mind. With the aid of her Logis Implant, it was a simple matter to convert the dates listed into numerals, and total them up.

“… end diagnostics.”

It didn’t add up. According to the dates listed in the diagnostics that the servitor had just recited to her, it just couldn’t be. Over the eight millennia that the Prometheus had been online, the total time that the M1.r Life Sustainer had been offline barely added up to one year. Lumi knew, for a fact, that most of that year was during a time in which the Disciples of Thule had completely shut down all systems on the ship in order to do serious repairs.

And yet, the other diagnostic reported nearly one thousand years of inactivity.

This anomaly wasn’t isolated. Half a dozen other systems gave a similar report — nearly one thousand years of unreported inactivity.

She knew these machine spirits — she would know if they lied to her. The diagnostics were correct.

What had this ancient vessel been through?

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Pieces to the Puzzle
Cornelius contemplates the data recovered from the sealed Orthesian chest.

Sitting in his private chambers, Lord-Captain Cornelius Orthesian reviewed the contents of the dataslate one last time. This dataslate, badly damaged, was all that remained of whatever had been stored in the sealed chest they had found aboard the Light of Terra — the rest had been stolen by that traitor, Pol.

Cornelius cursed his own foolishness. The chest had been marked with the seal of the Orthesian Dynasty — why hadn’t he opened it sooner? Instead, his obsession with finding the Dread Pearl had distracted him, and now he would never know what else had been in there. Pol got away with it all, leaving behind only this damaged dataslate.

Three documents were all that could be salvaged from the dataslate — and even those were fragmented.

The first document read:

004013.131.G | 055871. 862.C | 1X37X4.R

Warp coordinates, Nebula had confirmed. The last portion of the coordinates were damaged, but Nebula and her apprentice, Reymalon, had managed to narrow it down to one of three possible locations within the Koronus Expanse — an asteroid field near the Rifts of Hecaton, a planet marked as forbidden by the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Ork infested planet, Tusk.

Yet, would it even be worth it to pursue any of the three possible locations, when there was no indication of the actual significance of the coordinates?

The next document was a message with large portions of the information missing:

Date: //REDACTED//

To: //REDACTED//

From: Ador Corphus, Factotum, Glaeser Foundry

The order from //REDACTED// has been received from Magos //REDACTED//. Progress will begin following the initial payment, and pending the timely arrival of //REDACTED// from //REDACTED//. Given the experimental nature of the program, expect a number of potential delays. Nonetheless, the Glaeser Foundry shall do all within their power to complete the program before //REDACTED//.

On a personal note, I must express my concerns that //DATA CORRUPTED//

//DATA CORRUPTED//

//DATA CORRUPTED//

//DATA CORRUPTED//

//DATA CORRUPTED//

//DATA CORRUPTED//

Once again, this document left more questions than it answered. Inessa had done the research though, and she informed Cornelius that the Glaeser Foundry was actually a former business partner of the Orthesian Dynasty, in the early days following the Angevin Crusade. However, the only Ador Corphus she could find that had ties to the Glaeser Foundry had lived four hundred years earlier — long after the disappearance of the Orthesians.

Puzzling.

The final document intrigued Cornelius the most, perhaps just due to their recent brush with the Eldar at the Dread Pearl, but perhaps there was more to it than just that. The document appeared to be a personal log belonging to an Inquisitor, of the Ordo Xenos, Inquisitor Staven Arcturos.

Date: 902.467.M40

Subject: Concerning Farseer Naiara

This is third time we have crossed paths with the enigmatic Farseer, and I fear it may be the last. Captain Roth, ever faithful to the Imperium of Man, insists that he won’t hold back his macrocannons if the Whispering Blade is ever in his sights again.

But the message she left — I struggle to comprehend. It had the sound of a riddle, but the weight of a dire warning.

Would that I could master their art, to have the truth unfurled before me, as she does.

The mind of the Farseer is utterly inhuman in its depth and complexity. Without mercy or moral feeling, her consciousness stands upon the edge of spiritual destruction. That she does not fall must be a result of constraints and balances that only an Eldar could understand. To a mere Human it is yet another reminder that we are but children in comparison to that ancient and powerful race.

I am but a child — yet I feel I am on the precipice, so close to something greater.

Caiaphas would scoff at my interests in foresight, feign indignation that one of my station should seek such an intimate understanding of the Xenos, but he recognized its importance. Without it, after all, he would never have begun his crusade for the Shattersphere.

When one truly understands fate as it is, myriad branching paths, then one can truly see that duty is cleaving to a particular fate, and glory is the accomplishment of duty’s ends. I believe that Caiaphas understands this principle, but fears to do so openly.

Here I go on about Caiaphas, yet I don’t even know that he still lives. More than two-score years have passed, and neither myself nor my contacts among Xenos Hybris have found even the slightest trace of the Blessed Vanguard.

I care not what Captain Roth says — I would like to encounter Naiara again.

Inquisitor Staven Arcturos, records suggested, had last been seen embarking on the Blessed Vanguard, the flagship of the Orthesian Dynasty, not two years before their disappearance. And yet, the date on this log — nearly one thousand years later.

The Inquisitor mentions Captain Roth — no doubt Captain Drakken Roth, captain of the Light of Terra, God-Emperor bless his soul. The Light of Terra disappeared in 471.M40, four years following this log. From the sound of it, the Inquisitor had been travelling aboard the Light of Terra. What was his fate? Had he still been aboard the grand cruiser when it suffered the damage that had left it drifting for a millennium? Was a remnant of his seed to be found among the degenerate crewmembers that remained aboard that ancient vessel?

And who was this Eldar farseer?

Cornelius didn’t like it. Everything seemed to tie together, yet none of it made sense.

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Test for Recordings

THIS IS A TEST!!! If you can her this please message me on Facebook.

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Navigator's Log 10
The First End

As the warp storm drew back around the planet, a battle was exploding in the sky. Two dozen ships, at least – Rogue Trader, Eldar, and Dark Eldar – clashed in brutal, take-no-prisoners combat. Initially, Cornelius was prepared to leap into battle, weapons blazing, prepared to chase down Pol – who was apparently on the Agent Blade, protected by at least six Dark Eldar ships – at any cost. With some effort, I managed to talk him down, explaining that our ship was running on its last leg and that if we took much more damage we would be completely out of commission. He begrudgingly agreed to power up our ship’s speed boost and skirt the edge of the battle, to intercept the Argent Blade on the other side.

At first, we had ordered the Vengeful Falcon to get outside of the warp storm, but we chose to have it follow us – skirting the battle would be tricky, and we decided covering fire would be critical.

Close by, Sun Li was on-track to ram an Eldar Ship. In a sort of unspoken agreement, the Rogue Traders were no longer fighting each other. The Eldar were a bigger threat. We had to pass Sun Li’s skirmish on our way, so Inessa shot at the Eldar ship a few times. With fairly little trouble, we got about half the way around.

Suddenly, without warning, Djanko Scourge’s warp drives exploded, shearing a hole in the fabric of spacetime, opening a gash into the warp. Windows slammed down on the starboard side of our vessel, protecting the crew from the horrors, while I screamed directions at whoever was piloting, trying to get us away from the shredded edges of reality. We were on the very edge of the blast radius, and miraculously were able to avoid being sucked into the warp. Sun Li and several others were not so lucky.

Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately, as we were chasing them – the Argent Blade, which was also on the outer edge of the blast radius, managed to avoid being sucked in. We curved around the edge of the hole and it came into our line of vision. I could sense immediately that they were preparing for an emergency warp. We had seconds to decide our course of action. There was a mention of t-boning them and shoving them into the warp ahead of us, but since they were already preparing to warp anyway, I had a better plan.

“We follow them into the Warp,” I told the captain. “I can follow them. Following’s easier than plotting a path. Hypothetically.”

“Are you sure?”

“I won’t have any idea where we’ll be going, but I can ensure that we don’t lose them.”

“That’s all I want. Do it.”

There was no further discussion. I began preparing for an emergency warp, while the captain tried to swing us up next to the Argent Blade so that we’d be side by side. The maneuver was not as deft as he had hoped, and we slammed into them broadside. Reaching out with my mind, in a mere few seconds, I managed to get our crew to sync our warp drive with theirs and together, we shot into unreality.

We slammed into the warp storm at full speed. Heart pounding and senses on fire, I instantly plotted the least damaging course and took us through.

Once things had stabilized a bit, we realized that two Eldar ships and the Vendigroth flagship had followed us, as well. The captain hailed Nadya and, without allowing her a chance to speak, essentially said, “We’ve had our difference in the past and I’m willing to work that out but right now we need to deal with the foul xenos. Don’t shoot at the Argent Blade. It’s ours. But if you could take out the ship on our starboard, that would be fantastic.”

He hung up on her without letting her respond. A few minutes later, she fired on the Argent Blade.

Infuriated but unable to do anything, the captain ordered that we take out the one Eldar ship we could – the one on port. Our entire starboard side, unfortunately, was still connected with the Argent’s.

One good hit caused the Eldar ship to bail. Suddenly, Lumi yelled that there was a ship ahead – an Imperial ship with a familiar signature. Shock and confusion rippled through us all. What Imperial ship that we would recognize would be in the warp, coming towards us?

The captain ordered a tricky drift maneuver, trying to push the Argent Blade around so it would hit the other ship first, and take the brunt of the ram. With a little skill and a lot of luck, it worked. We drifted. The other ship appeared out of the warp clouds, twice the size of ours and just as glorious as I remembered it – The Light of Terra. A ripple of shock went through those of us who knew, and then, suddenly, impact.

Nadya veered off, and the other Eldar ship vanished as well, peeling away into the warp. There was a massive, screeching crunch as we turned into a triple-ship sandwich. As a shudder the size of an earthquake rocked the ship, I saw it – a way to pull all three of us out of the warp.

We dropped into normal space as the final shock waves dissipated. A glance out the window proved my worst suspicions – The Light of Terra was falling to pieces, its bruised and battered form finally crumbling. As we watched, incredibly relieved and grateful, shocked that our friend had just been sacrificed for the success of our mission, he hailed us. Cornelius greeted him with jubilation, thanking him, but his voice held that edge. We all knew. The final voyage of The Light of Terra was over.

He didn’t seem bothered. All he had for us was a message: a message from the Rifts of Hekator, where he had apparently found the original great flagship of the Orthesian Dynasty. He told us that the key to clearing the Orthesian family name was out there, with the ship and the Orthesian captain – Cornelius’ great-great-someodd grandfather, who, miraculously, is apparently still alive after two thousand years.

Then again, we keep finding these random two-thousand-year-old men connected to the Orthesian family, so I’m not even sure why I’m surprised anymore.

Oh, god. I hope Cornelius doesn’t live that long.

With that message, his final gift to us, he drifted away – finally at peace.

We immediately boarded the Argent Blade with several boarding crews, ready for a fight. There wasn’t much of one. The crew was skeletal – bare basics required to run. In the bridge, we found the box, but much to our fury, Pol had escaped. We saved his sorry life, and for what? Was he nothing more than a sleeper agent, sent to ruin us? Enraged, I silently vowed vengeance. I will suffer no such betrayals to my fami… my Dynasty.

Within the box, we found a shattered disc. We were disappointed, but with some effort, we will likely be able to reassemble the device and get something off it. Not a lot, but something is better than nothing.

A check of the stars around us told us we were near our mining planet. Fortuitously, this is where we had ordered the Vengeful Falcon to go as we had entered the warp. In all likely hood, they would be here soon, and we could rendezvous. After some discussion, we decided to remain at the planet for a while to make repairs to our ship and allow our crew and ourselves some time to rest and relax. It was determined that it would likely take a year to repair both ships fully, and that was deemed acceptable.

I am ready for a break. We all are.

During this time, I intend to study the book the Eldar Humunculous gave me, and maybe start a lab where I can experiment with these genetic mutation techniques. I am more than ready to face whatever adventures we will embark on next, and at this point, I have finally realized – I was right to leave my family. I could have apologized. I could have mended my ways. But I didn’t, and now I’m here.

And quite frankly, I have never been happier.

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Navigator's Log 09
Discoveries and Heresy

After spending a few days on the planet, collecting everything we could and redesigning our arboretum, we came to a general agreement that it was time to go. Every Rogue Trader except our one ally – Bastille – had arrived. Feckward, we presumed, was taking as many villages as he could, collecting slaves. Nadya kept her distance, bombing the planet, sending out psyker transmissions declaring it to be heretical and that we were all… well, terrible people for even touching it. She should have tried landing. She would have shut up about heresy the instant she breathed that air.

On that note, I’m thrilled with how well my idea for the synthesized paradise in the arboretum worked. Now I can spend a moment in paradise whenever I’m feeling under the weather. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s close enough.

Before leaving, we took our fleet of shuttles and skipped across several islands, convincing the villagers to leave. All told, we picked up about 700 – not many, but enough that my conscience is eased when I remember how many Feckward probably took as slaves. He’s a cruel man.

When we reached the seventh village, it was empty. Only a few remained. They explained to us that everyone had gone down into the vaults. Despite our rush to leave, we were curious, and investigated.

What we discovered was beyond description. Rows upon rows of storage units, filled with empty Eldar Soul Stones. Each stone was suspended delicately between two tiny clamps – one on the tip and one on the bottom curve of the tear. They glowed with a soft blue light, and I could see why the people considered them holy. They sat among the rows, watching us nervously with wide, innocent eyes.

Inessa did not have to tell us – this room was a fortune for the taking.

With a few twisted concepts from their culture and religion, Inessa convinced them that we had to take the stones – that the God-Emperor was taking them to a new paradise. They began to help us pack the storage units up into the shuttles.

Above the vault was a room with a webway gate. Rather than assisting with the menial labour, I went to examine it. Having been so struck by the previous one, I was more cautious, which proved a faulty tactic. The psykic energies lashed out with visions and brutally knocked me unconscious.

I was later told that many efforts were taken to revive me, including the following: the Captain “booped” me on the nose and shook my head around.

Yikes.

What did finally revive me was Inessa force-feeding me some Haze, which she picked at random from my drug pouch. I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t Barrage, but her absolute lack of discretion still has me shocked. However, it did make me wake up, which was fine, except I was completely delirious from the Haze and the aftereffects of the psykic forces. Their next brilliant thought was to feed me some of the fruit native to the planet – the fruit with miraculous healing power. It brought me back to the present, though my functionality was… questionable. I spent some time lying one the grass staring at the clouds. It was relaxing.

After a time, however, the webway gate activated. Uncontrollably curious about the Eldar and whatever was about to happen, I dragged myself upright and to the gate, where the captain, Lumi, Inessa, and Jesse were already standing. Jesse let me lean on her, thankfully, or I may have collapsed.

From the gate emerged an Eldar priest of some sort, engulfed in light. He said a lot of floofy stuff, but the main point was that we were desecrating their maiden world and that they were going to draw the warp storm back around the planet. Our options were to either haul ass out of there, or stick around and get turned into bones… or something. The gist was that the Eldar would destroy us if we stuck around. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised, or even upset. If someone dropped into my paradise and sullied it I’d destroy them, too. I suppose, in a manner of speaking, I respect the Eldar. I respect their ability to create such incredible maiden worlds, certainly, and their dedication to protecting them.

As the Eldar stepped back into the gate, something… shifted. Awoke. We picked up the pace, loading the stones as quickly as we could. Through the forest echoed the march of thousands of wraithbone warriors, awoken at last by the Eldar to protect their world.

When we ran back outside, our shuttle had left. Shocked, the captain radioed it. They claimed they had received a coded transmission ordering them to return to The Prometheus. Cornelius was furious and ordered them to return, which they did, with some reluctance. It took them about ten minutes to get back.

We formed a defensive line between our people and the approaching army. I let out a sort of psykic yell and opened my warp eye on the soldiers, stunning many, while the Kroot and crew fired on them. They were slightly deterred. One managed to shoot the captain, however, and he vomited and passed out, which would have been amusing in any other circumstance. Unfortunately, the wraithbone warriors didn’t leave much time for laughing. Exhausted and unable to bring myself to open my eye again, I tossed an arc of three grenades into their ranks, throwing them into disarray and giving us a little extra time. We managed to save thirty of the villagers and about a quarter of the stones.

Lumi, at some point, somehow, managed to pick up psykic transmissions from our own psykers, muttering that they were in the shadows – that they were loose, that they were taking over the ship. Something like that. All communications from the Prometheus were shut down. The ship was completely dark.

We flew up to the Vengeful Falcon to unload and prepare for whatever was aboard our flagship. We boarded and began moving straight to the bridge. On the way, we were accosted by a creature that slipped from the shadows. It attacked Lumi, but her servitor blocked the blow, taking the damage for her. I whipped my mirror swords out and plunged them through the thing’s chest. They hit solid, and the creature faded into shadow. From what I could remember, it appeared to be some sort of Eldar – a creature that had fused itself with shadows, to the point that it could slip in and out of them at will.

Our immediate realization was that we needed to flood the ship with light, as soon as we could.

We had a few more skirmishes with them on our way to the bridge, but we handled them easily. The bridge, when we arrived, was in absolute disarray. Apparently Pol had stolen a genetically locked box we had found in the cargo holds of the Light of Terra. The captain ordered Lumi to calm the machines, and me to turn on the lights. However, I overheard a report that three invaders had been seen heading towards my quarters. I abandoned the captain’s orders and ran to my rooms. A shadow Eldar attempted to stop me on the way, but adrenaline carried me straight through until I slammed into my room.

Within, two large, deformed creatures were standing with a regular-sized man. Of course, I use the term ‘man’ loosely; he was Eldar, and he was… mutated. He seemed unconcerned by my presence, flipping idly through a book of my family’s heretical research. I briefly considered attacking, but the two others were much larger and would have almost certainly overpowered me. Besides, the man and his interest in the research intrigued me.

I do not remember much of the conversation, due largely to shock. However, he insulted my family’s research – called it rudimentary. Uninterested in dying, I immediately pointed out that none of the research was my own; it was my ancestors’. He didn’t seem to care. He said that I had potential, but that I didn’t have the correct sources, or basics, or something. It all had to do with genetics – my ancestors had been studying the genetic manipulation tactics that the Stryxis used. He claimed he could give me something much more powerful – a platform on which to launch my own research. Perhaps a way to manipulate my own genetics. To recreate myself into something ever more powerful.

He gave me a book, and before I had time to ask questions, he stepped created a portal and left through it. The two others gave me baleful glances before lumbering through, as well.

Shocked and baffled, I was frozen for a moment where I stood. Then I realized what I was holding: possibly the most heretical material I had ever possessed. The thought of it sent a thrill through me. I knew, however, that the captain might be less thrilled, and I locked it and the notebook he had been perusing when I arrived away in the drawer where I keep all my family’s research. I then returned to the bridge.

By that time, the captain had returned order. He was irritated with me for leaving, but there wasn’t much time to explain. Eldar ships were popping into the area, a dozen of them, and a giant space battle was brewing above us.

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Navigator's Log 08
The Eldar Maiden World

We touched our shuttle down on an island and disembarked. Up close, it becomes even more obvious that this world is incredibly beautiful and healthy. My mind feels sharper when I breath the pure, untarnished air. Out of curiosity, we try the fruit from the trees, and it makes us feel younger, stronger, more clear-minded.

As we explore, Lumi discovers a small, glittering stone on the ground. After a minute of further investigation, we discover them everywhere – lying around like chocolate in a candy shop. They seem strangely familiar, and after spending a little while studying them and trying to recall where I’d seen something like this before, i remember.

Eldar soul stones.

Inessa is examining one closely. “These would fetch a really good price,” she says. “And there are hundreds of them.”

“They’re soul stones.” I shudder and drop the handful I’d gathered. “The souls of dead Eldar are contained within them.”

Nobody else seems terribly bothered.

As we tramp deeper into the forest, we get reports here and there of other Rogue Traders arriving. I don’t pay much attention, preferring to explore and examine the curious wildlife and foliage. Not to mention, there are Eldar structures and ruins everywhere, built of the familiar wraithbone material.

A ways in, I discover something strange: a fire pit. A fairly recent one. I call over the others and as a group, we decide that we should find whoever created it. It doesn’t take long to discover a small village, perhaps two hundred people. Baffled and curious, we approach with some caution. Somebody points out a piece of fabric with the symbol of the first Rogue Trader to ever exist. These people must be descendants of that ship, which was lost thousands of years ago.

The people welcome us with open arms. They’re all decked out with the Eldar soul stones. They’re strung on their clothes like beads, or in their hair or around their necks. They’re friendly and their language is understandable, for the most part.

There are a lot of interesting, amazing things, such as this young girl I discover: a child named Tibbs, with a birthmark on her forehead reminiscent of a Navigator’s eye. She spoke to me of the light of the God-Emperor, and that she could feel his “light,” but that it was far away. And how could this be paradise when it’s so far from the God-Emperor. She asks me to take her with when we leave, to take her closer to the light. I agree, interested in her potential.

We sit down to dinner with them, and explain where we came from. We omit certain things, like the fact that we’re probably going to take as much of their planet as possible in order to make money off of it.

When they hear that we’re just visiting, however, they instantly become cold. Their leader insists that we leave immediately, for if we are unwilling to accept paradise as the god-emperor has given it to us, we don’t deserve it.

After a short time, ships began to descend into the atmosphere. Feckward. Blitz. The other Rogue Traders had arrived. After some discussion, it was decided that we should take as much as we can and get out, so as to avoid direct conflict with the other dynasties. I suggested we create a controlled environment in our arboretum where we may grow and breed the life from the planet, as a source of ongoing profit.

We begin the process tomorrow. As it was my idea, I hope it goes well. The fruit is amazing, and the creatures will fetch great prices as exotic pets.

Thus far we have avoided any severe conflict with the other Rogue Traders. I hope this continues.

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Navigator's Log 07
The Processional of the Damned

For a few minutes after the battle ended, there was a strange, tense quiet. Our plans were laid. Nadya Vendigroth did not yet know that we had tricked her.

She hailed us, and demanded to see Captain Aphecius. We sent the First Officer of the ship, a man named York, to speak with her in his place. Cornelius whipped up a story that Aphecius was in the bathroom with a stomachache. Nadya refused to speak with York, stating that she would wait. The shuttle on approach to our ship halted, and she hailed us again, saying, “The Lord Captain of his Dynasty demands that he present himself, regardless.”

We told her we’d see what we could do, then hung up and went through our options. Cornelius suggested we prop up Aphecius’ body and turn him into a puppet so it seemed like he was still alive. That was quickly denied because his face was blown off. Jesse suggested we pretend a demon had come aboard, but we determined the probability of failure for that was too high, as they might just blow us up to get rid of the “demon.” Another suggestion was to have Inessa pretend to be Aphecius, but we determined the disguise wouldn’t be convincing enough.

After another ten minutes, their patience wore thin. “If we don’t hear from Aphecius in the next five minutes, we will cut communications, and take action.”

With our options exhausted, we decided to take action first. The shuttle from Nadya’s ship returned, and we attacked. We got into our battle stations and fired. Meanwhile, we sent the Vengeful Falcon around to flank. Two hits, one from each of our ships, critically damage them. They fire back at the Prometheus.

Suddenly, I sense that their warp drive is activating. I yell to the captain that they’re going to make an emergency warp jump and that we need to get away, fast. Jesse yells that we should just go through the portal. We crank up our energy conversion matrix and shoot through the dust cloud with the Vengeful Falcon right behind us. The warp shears open, trying to suck everything in, and the Falcon takes a hard hit, but makes it through okay. We sail out into the field of broken ships – the Processional of the Damned.

Pol requests to speak with Cornelius. He advises Cornelius to keep his distance from the other Orthesian ship that Jesse and I had seen last time we came through this portal. He explains that the vessel is named The Argent Blade. It’s a small raider class vessel, and that they are a dangerous force influenced by something malign. I asked him how he came to be aboard such a “malign” ship, and he explained that he had served aboard the vessel for a long time and watched its decline under the influence of some entity. Apparently it was his opposition to their orders that caused him to be stranded. He wasn’t sure why they were in the shipyard, as he had been kept in the brig for six months before they had arrived here.

We decided that we would leave the Vengeful Falcon by the portal to guard our exit and repair itself, we headed out through the Processional towards the Nexus Point. After a while, we came upon a small moon filled with holes, like swiss cheese. In the interest of safety, we chose to go around. The Hollow Men don’t prove to be a problem. We dispatch teams to take care of any that get onto our hull.

The Nexus Point is in the middle of a large cluster of starships. We park a little farther away and I go down in a shuttle with some Kroot, Captain Cornelius, and Pol. I space walk out to the Nexus Point with several Kroot. As I work on deciphering the point, I’m unnerved by the black star outside – occasionally, through the wreckage surrounding me, i catch a glimpse of it. I feel like it’s watching me.

I pick up the map easily, and immediately head back to the shuttle, eager to get out of empty space. Suddenly, from all around, I hear screams – strange, banshee howling echoing through space. Out of the wreckage come a group of figures, screaming through space. I recognize them as Dark Eldar reaver jet bikes. Panicked, I start screaming and scrambling back to the shuttle. Unfortunately, scrambling doesn’t work well in space. Three of them come towards me. From the shuttle, Cornelius shoots two of them, and I whip out my Eldar Mirror swords to parry his scythe-like weapon. He speeds away, and I manage to get back to the shuttle before he comes back around.

The captain tries to take us out. The jets dodge around us, knocking us around into other wreckage as we try to speed up to The Prometheus. I keep screaming, running around the shuttle, unable to think straight. The captain yells at me to shut up, and Jesse, from the ship, beeps me and starts screaming back. That shuts me up.

A ship appears from the wreckage – the Orthesian vessel Jesse and I had seen last time we were in the portal.

The Eldar zipping around the shuttle rip the hull open and come crawling through the hole, weapons drawn. I draw my gun as they attack, one going for the captain. I point my gun at one of the Eldar coming through the hull, but he dodges my shot and comes towards me, spear drawn. I shoot him again, point blank, and send him flying backwards. To my left, I see an Eldar coming down on Pol, and I whip out my swords and leap towards him. The lack of gravity throws me off, though, and I miss them entirely. The Eldar slices off his arm. Annoyed, I whip back around and stab him. After several more minutes of fighting, we kill the rest of them and our shuttle limps back into the ship.

The ship with the Orthesian seal insists that we have stolen their property and that we need to return it to them. Nearby, three more ship signatures appear – non-imperial ships. We start prepping for battle as we hail the other ship. They insist that again, we don’t own the vessel and that we must return it. It becomes clear that the other three ships are with it. Unwilling to deal with the other three ships, which appear to be Dark Eldar, we choose to leave. The Captain snaps an angry retort at the other man, telling him off for being a heretic, then hangs up and directs us to fly back out of the portal.

On our way back, we go through the Swiss cheese moon, unwilling to waste the time going around it. The Eldar ships don’t follow us in, choosing to go around. We scrape against a wall at one point, but make it out okay; going through gives us a head start and we turn on the energy conversion matrix and speed out. The Eldar dance around us, shooting, but we manage to shoot out of the portal behind the Falcon, whom we had radioed ahead to leave.

The ships don’t follow us through the portal.

We check on Pol before we leave. He’s grown his arm back, which seems strange and incredible. He explains that it’s a type of tech-priest study that has to do with genetics.

We hang out in the area for a day, finishing some fix-ups, and then we head out to a safe warp point and we prepare to leave. I take us into the warp and locate the astronomicon with ease and take us right through. We hit a warp reef, and a fire starts in the shrine the missionaries built to Georgio as Jesse walks past. After some effort, however, the crew manages to put the flames out. We come out of the warp on time without any further problems.

As we emerge from the warp, the sight before us is stunning and beautiful. There is a raging warp storm before us, in the center of which is the Dread Pearl. As we approach it, it slowly begins to part for us, lightning flashing, colours whirling. The light of a star comes through as the storm parts, revealing to us the stellar system of the Pearl. A scan reveals that we are the first ones here. We decide to wait for the storm to retreat a little further before going through, for safety’s sake. A day or two later, it’s safe, but I detect somebody coming through the warp. We are soon to have company.

We take our ship through. The planet is vast and verdant, absolutely beautiful and incredibly healthy, covered in a giant ocean broken up by hundreds, maybe thousands of islands. We are taking a shuttle down now to explore.

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Navigator's Log 06
So... We Commandeered a Ship

We met up with Bastille and the captain worked out the particulars of the deal. While I was exchanging Nexus Points with his navigator, Inessa would be working out a more material trade.

We met up in the middle. Bastille’s men seemed nervous, unsettled. I’m uncertain why. I greeted them cheerfully and put them at ease with a few introductions and jokes. I knew the navigator – he belongs to the C? house, and he was friendly enough. Mostly interested in just getting the exchange done. As we went to connect our minds and share our psynicient information, the astropath attempted to block me and break into my mind, apparently in an effort to steal the two Nexus Points. I shut him down instantly and backed away, worried that this entire meeting was a setup for a sabotage. Uninterested in dancing around the point, I addressed the astropath directly with an annoyed, “Bro.”

Baffled, shocked, and unsure what to do since his attempt to undermine me had failed, he was silent. C? asked what was wrong, and I explained that the astropath – whose name was apparent “Lenny” – had attempted to steal from me. C? seemed shocked by this, and ordered that “Lenny” be removed and punished accordingly. We then finished our transaction and went our separate ways.

Once we returned, the captain concluded our business with Bastille. I stepped into my room and finished examining the Nexus Point I’d received from C?, then returned to the bridge. Jesse had discovered a few interesting things in the dust cloud nearby, and apparently there was a ship about to exit the warp a short distance away. The item in the dust cloud had an Eldar signature, and I immediately wanted to check it out. There was some debate about whether we should stick around for the ship, as it could be unfriendly, but it seemed we had plenty of time, so Jesse and I took ten Kroot and went to see what it was.

Within the dust cloud was a portal – a structure indeed of Eldar design; what they use in order to travel across the galaxy. Jesse and I debated briefly, and chose to go through and see what was on the other side.

What greeted us was a field of debris – broken ships, trashed, floating around a small black star of some sort. I detected a Nexus Point within it.

We were immediately hailed with a distress call by a small group of individuals who begged us to save them from the “Hollow Men.” Jesse and I deliberated briefly, then went to their aid. Her expert piloting and ballistic skills let us shoot a couple of the Hollow Men off the side of the vessel. One attempted to break into our own vessel, but a few of the Kroot we brought with us made quick work of him. With the Hollow Men distracted, we were able to save over half of the group. Identity-wise, they proved to be descendants of crews long ago stranded here, while two were more recent additions to the area – jettisoned from their ship as some sort of punishment. For what, I am still uncertain.

With them aboard, Jesse whipped our vessel around and we shot back through the portal. Just before we left, I caught a glimpse of the other fully functioning vessel we had previously noticed on the sensors. It bore the Orthesian seal. I questioned one of the men we saved – Pol – about it, and he said that it was indeed an Orthesian ship. Baffled but intrigued, I determined to tell the captain we must go back to find out more.

Outside of the dust cloud, it was clear that a major starship battle had commenced. It appeared to be Jeremiah Blitz and our captain locked in combat against the Vendigroth Rogue Trader, Nadya.

Jesse brought us around and docked us back on The Prometheus. We ran to the bridge. I was eager to inform the captain of all we’d found, but he was… a little busy. Much had happened while Jesse and I had been out.

Inessa had found a man from the Vendigroth ship who still seemed to be loyal to her, for reasons I didn’t care to find out. It was determined that he’d lead us onto the ship right beside us, The Falcon’s Vengeance, and that we’d hit their engines and run. Lumi, Inessa, and I went.

A ways into the ship, Lumi knocked something over. She managed to hide, but a couple of guards caught the rest of us. But the man – Gant – convinced them that he was taking us with him. Luckily he still held sway, and they accompanied us, but after a time they grew suspicious. They attacked, but we made quick work of them, especially with Lumi’s help. She’d been hiding and leapt out from behind, immediately taking one of the three down. From there, we made our way down to the engine room.

The crew was there working. When they saw me, they seemed shocked and confused. Navigators don’t usually enter the engine rooms. Their Adeptus was working with the machine spirits, but we told her she’d been replaced. Lumi and Pol sabotaged her work, riling up the machine spirits to utter fury. We cried that the girl had been a double-crosser, then got out of there as fast as we could. We sent Pol and Gant back to The Promethus with the girl, while Inessa, Lumi and I took on a slightly more daring plan.

Inessa had discovered (I suppose from Gant) that the captain of The Falcon’s Vengeance was her cousin, Aphecius Vendigroth. This frankly wasn’t surprising, as Nadya would obviously keep the business in the family. But as we’d moved away from the engine room, Inessa had hatched to me a plot – she wished to kill her cousin and take his ship for the Orthesian Dynasty. We contacted the captain and informed him, and he agreed to let us go forward with it – anything to weaken Nadya Vendigroth, so that we could win this fight.

We ran through the ship uncontested. They recognized us as persons of power, and assumed we were their superiors and leaders. At the door to the bridge, we were halted by four guards demanding to know our business. We told them that the captain had requested an extra Navigator because he was planning to make an unplanned, emergency warp jump.

They shot Inessa right in the chest, blowing her backwards several meters. Lumi hit one with her shock rod, knocking him unconscious, and I, unwilling to test myself in combat against them, I opened my warp eye on them, instantly killing two. The last one managed to avoid my gaze, but Lumi made quick work of him.

Glancing at Inessa, I asked if she was okay to move forward with the plan. Upon her affirmative, we entered.

The bridge was a flurry of action. Up on the screen, we could see our dear Captain Cornelius, distracting Aphecius with expert foolish blather – I think he was pretending to try and explain to Jesse, who was playing the fool, what each ship in the Vendigroth fleet was called, and Aphecius was buying right into it.

A man turned and asked us what we needed. We told him we’d deliver our message to the captain himself and to return to his work station.

I informed the captain that we were on the bridge. He ordered us to get right behind Aphecius. Once we were in place, he said, “What’s that?” causing Aphecius to turn around. He caught a glimpse of the three of us, right before Inessa shot him in the face.

The bridge fell deadly silent. The crew stared at us in shock.

Inessa holstered her gun and turned around. “I am Inessa Vendigroth,” she declared. “As I am next in rank to Aphecius, this ship is now under my command. Anyone who does not answer to me will be ejected into space.”

With little resistance, the crew agreed, and returned to their duties. I caught a glimpse of the navigator aboard – my uncle. I have yet to speak with him. I’m not exactly looking forward to it.

With the Falcon’s Vengeance under our command, our plans are to dupe Nadya Vendigroth into believing we have been defeated and then spring a sneak attack on her. We shall see how that goes.

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