Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy

Navigator's Log 2.03
Merchants and Stabbings and Demons, Oh My!

Once we had calmed Lumi, we discovered that she had panicked because the pillar had said, “Thank you. I didn’t want to be here when the world drowned.” Turns out, the poor girl has a fear of open water, though I fear the statement may not be as literal as it sounds.

Either way, we had to decide what to do about House Corthari, who were clearly going under the table selling valuable Yu’Vath artifacts – and not giving us a cut. A threat or two and a good bargain cut us into the deal, and we informed them that the Inquisitor would no longer be coming to the planet. A win-win for everyone, although… mostly for us. Just how we like it.

As we were packing to leave, Risa discovered a crime scene. After following it, she found a woman, dead, with precise stab wounds and the starchart symbol carved into her forehead. We immediately conducted a search, which included Hitomi trying to find out if anything had been stolen and me conducting a boot inspection to see if any of the miners’ people had the lady’s blood on their soles. The boot inspection was a little disorganized, which is hardly my fault; all I did was sit on a cot and issue orders. The fool who was helping me couldn’t keep the workers in line.

Regardless, we discovered someone had not shown up. Not a few minutes later, an unauthorized ship took off nearby. We took our shuttle and one of the miners’ shuttles and cornered the escapee on a small asteroid.

We attempted to contact him, but before any meaningful interrogation could pass, he said, “The Zandaran will rise again!” and there was a gurgling sound as he slit his own throat.

Hitomi recalled some information about the cult – that Cognatius had destroyed them long ago, ridding a small star system of their foul influence and returning the people there to the light of the God-Emperor.

Unable to divine the meaning behind all this, we simply set course for the planet marked by the symbol. Navigation was not as smooth this time; our new navigator took the wheel and – though I assisted – we had some minor issues. Namely, a daemonic incursion. Leaving the other navigator to man the helm, I followed Hitomi, Lumi, and Risa down to the deck where the demon was. We managed to make fairly short work of it. Hitomi banished it halfway through the battle, and that was that.

We approach Nephael. God-Emperor knows what awaits us there.

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The Book of Skorn - 1
The journey into the Nexus of Shadows begins.

What a foul journey we have embarked upon.

The Orthesians have agreed to assist in the endeavors of the wretched xenos corsair, Salaine Morn. She seeks to reclaim her hold over a place she calls the Nexus of Shadows — some terrible stronghold in a place she calls the ‘webway’ — which was stolen from her by another wretched xenos corsair, Zaergarn Kul. The Orthesians are going to accomplish this by stealing, from Kul, a voidship known as the Soul Reaver, which is powering Kul’s ziggurat. Splendid.

My loyalties remain, first, with the Missionarus Galaxia, and the Imperial Creed — not the Orthesians. However, it is also my duty, as the ship’s Confessor, to see to the well-being of the Orthesian souls. Ergo, here I am, striding into the heart of wretched hive of xenos scum and villainy, doing my best to keep the Orthesians away from the seductive path of Chaos.

And — God-Emperor bless their souls — it’s a good thing I’ve come along.

Not long after our arrival at the Nexus of Shadow, we were approached by a man — human — wearing the regalia of the Calixian nobility. Introduced himself as Henaris Tinis, and immediately inquired as to what the Orthesian Dynasty was doing here.

Now, we were trying to be quiet about this whole endeavor, not wanting to reveal to everyone just who we were. As such, I was a little bit disgruntled when this man recognized us and, furthermore, expressed an interest in what we were doing here. Worse, though, was when he announced to us his allegiance to the False Dawn.

A Chaos Cult.

I was displeased, and had to take a moment to clear my mind, as the righteous fury of the Emperor’s faithful was urging me to tear through that heretic’s flesh with my chainsword, right then and there.

I let the others handle the most of the conversation with the heretic, but it seems he wanted us to help his cult gain access to the Soul Reaver so that they could harvest a vast collection of souls to make as an offering to their dark god, Slaanesh. Blasphemy — I’d never let such a thing happen. However, as I’ve learned in the past, it is better to wield Chaos as a weapon against Chaos, than to let Chaos wield the God-Emperor’s faithful as a weapon against the God-Emperor’s faithful. We will go along with the Heretic’s plan, but only so far as it helps us accomplish our goals — and then he will suffer the full wrath of the God-Emperor.

The Heretic send word off for his wretched friends to gather at a nearby tavern — though not a tavern like one might find in the Imperium — in preparation for our infiltration of the Soul Reaver.

While we sat at this tavern, listening to the strange and twisted sounds that the xenos called music, we were approached by another individual, a xenos that referred to themselves as Iyssyr. Seems we were quite the popular ones, in the Nexus of Shadows, as this xenos informed us that its patron, one Ravyr Dysk, wanted to meet with us.

And here we are, on our way to speak with a member of the xenos nobility.

God-Emperor protect us.

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Navigator's Log 2.02
The Yu'Vath Ruins

After what was quite possibly the smoothest warp travel I have ever conducted, we arrived at the planet Mynov. The first thing we noticed were two ships in the system – the Disciples of Thule, and what appeared to be a group of miners. They both contacted us, and after a few initial issues, we told the miners that they needed to leave while we conducted a preliminary investigation for the Inquisition – dropping Vesper’s name so as to throw some weight around.

Of course, the Inquisition wasn’t really coming. We just needed the miners to leave so the Disciples of Thule could study their thing and get out.

With the miners gone, we flew down to the surface, where the Disciples led us into the mountains and through an intricate cave system. Our Kroot mercenary Kct’chaka (? Is there even a human spelling for their names?) noticed we were following the path of people, dozens of people, who had passed through recently and often.

Shortly thereafter, we were startled by a shadow passing by. There was some gunfire, and I backed down a hole. Our psyker (what was her name again? Big hat. Big attitude) tried to grab me as I fell, but I was just out of reach, and slid away, screaming. I flew down the right of a fork, then tumbled into a large cavern filled with bioluminescent mushrooms. The lighting screwed with my eyes. Normally I can see fairly well in the dark, due to my eye mutations, but it was exactly wrong in the cavern. When I hit the bottom and paused to take in my surroundings (and a breath), I heard a soft rattling. Panicked, I yelled up the hole for them to come get me, though I was sure I’d fallen so far they’d barely be able to hear me.

A minute passed. Maybe more. The rattling was quiet, yet deafening in the space. I grew silent, slowly realizing my error. If they weren’t coming to get me, all my yelling was doing was alerting whatever it was out there to my presence. I grew still, watching the mushrooms and moss, gripping my pistol.

Something moved in the darkness. A call came from above – Risa, asking which way to go at the fork. A sigh of relief escaped me – they were coming. But I had to yell back to tell her which way to go. I hesitated, then called. The rattling grew louder suddenly and it – whatever it was – lunged towards me, and I shot it point-blank in the face with surprising accuracy, considering I was screaming again. Not a moment later, Risa dropped beside me and we clambered back out of the hole.

The shadow that had startled me into backing down the hole turned out to be a young man, apparently affiliated with the miners, who was with a group gathering artifacts from the Yu’Vath ruins. We tried to have him lead us, since the Disciples had lost their signal on their tracking device, but we quickly became lost again.

Annoyed, I asked Kct’chaka to find the path again. He informed us we’d wandered off it a few turns back, then led us directly to the ruin.

Most of it was stripped bare, with only base structures remaining. The miners were thorough. At the far end of the cavern was a massive door with a circle in the center, carved to appear shattered, and nine slots around it. I clearly detected a psychic presence behind it which could be interacted with, but not by me. I’m not that kind of psyker. I turned to our choir directer and asked her to do it, but she was having incredible difficulty detecting the presence at all, much less interacting with it.

I turned around, glanced around the cavern, and told Lumi not to wander off, then returned to helping the psyker.

It didn’t take long, as it never does, for disaster to strike. A massive beast, thirty feet long with massive pincers, crashed through the door. I recognized it immediately as the beast who had nearly eaten me in the tunnels. The Disciples of Thule leapt to action, other than their leader, who chose to cower behind a rock.

We can’t all be heroes, I suppose.

It didn’t take too long to take the beast down, considering we kept dropping rocks on it. When it was dead, we gathered the carcass, and I took one of its long, bladelike pincers to create a sword from it. I’m really only good with the Eldar Mirror Swords, but perhaps Reymalon could use it, or I could decorate my room with it, as a trophy.

This is when we discovered Lumi standing in a doorway, clutching a bizzare crystal pillar.

When questioned, she led us through a secret tunnel that opened into a room behind the massive door. There were several such pillars within the room, which I arranged into a neat hexagon – there were spots on the floor to set them. Lumi kept trying to escape with one, and muttering about how they wanted to leave, but I managed to complete the task eventually.

Once set, they lit up a symbol on the floor. I didn’t recognize it, but Risa did. Apparently it was a symbol from a starchart. Not a starchart I have used, apparently, despite all my time spent studying any and all charts of space.

Either way, I was suddenly overcome with the insatiable desire for a sandwich.

We took the crystal pillars out and explained the situation to the Disciples. One of them, in response to my complaining, produced a sandwich from one of his pockets. We exchanged the pillars for him. His name is Lenses, he’s covered in cameras, and he makes a mean bologna sandwich. We got the better end of that deal.

The Disciples packed up their work and we beat a hasty retreat, moving to get away from the Yu’Vath ruins quickly. The xenos were evil, and worshiped the warp, and their energies still hung about the place like a malign presence.

When we exited the tunnels, Lumi began screaming.

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Navigator's Log 2.01
Another Day, Another Adventure

A year has passed – an uneventful, quiet year, filled with study, leisure, and the occasional ship inspection. But the Prometheus was recently declared repaired by the Disciples of Thule. With our flagship ready to depart, we sent the Argent Blade through the warp storms to seek out more people to hire and goods to stock up with, while our motley group discussed how best to proceed. It was decided that perhaps our best course of action was to head for Ilisk, the small, dead planet near the edges of the Hecaton Rifts. That was our best lead on Caiaphus Orthesian.

When the Argent Blade returned, we met several new and interesting recruits with potential – a new leader for our psyker choir, among others.

Once we were prepped to go, I prepared by painting the auguries, which ended up involving… some spaghetti.

The psychic tunes baffled me, and though I detected a great deal of profitable possibilities in our future, I simply could not tell what the mood of the Warp was. Nevertheless, we prepared to enter the warp, pulling up the Gellar Field and starting the warp engines. However, before we were fully ready, the ship was wrenched into the warp by some unseen force. Across the ship, systems went wild, servitors ceased their tasks and began screaming, and hallucinations abounded. Our systems proved unresponsive. Navigational and piloting powers were locked. Inessa managed to decieve half of the crew into believing that, and I quote, “Everything is fine!” Despite this, chaos still ran rampant, and I think a large portion of people were having hallucinations of Khorne.

While I remained on the bridge, snapping orders and trying to restore some semblance of sanity, the rest of our group worked to find the source of the issue. Apparently our new psyker, whose name escapes me, sensed an issue with the warp drives themselves – something locked on, controlling the drives. I hear they found some sort of warp maggot, which Lumi chose to grab with her bare hands and rip from the warp engines, so furious was she that the beast was hurting the Prometheus. It’s rather cute how she treats the ship like her child.

Either way, the shaking and screaming servitors eventually ceased, causing a calm to fall over the ship. When the crew returned, it was discovered that our instruments were still down, and that we were locked in a gravity field, unable to fly or warp away. At the center of this gravity field was a construct of what appeared to be Yu’Vath origin, and around it were some dozen ships – maybe still functioning, maybe not – and an asteroid, or small moon. Shortly after some peace was reinstated, we were contacted by a group of Eldar, also apparently stuck.

“We need your help,” the messenger on the screen informed us. “We have a way to get out, but we cannot achieve it. There are two civilizations here with components that we can use to infiltrate and destroy the structure causing this gravity field, but we cannot obtain them because… the people do not trust us. Because we are Eldar.”

“Dark Eldar,” I mutter.

The main portion of the crew is instantly suspicious, against helping the xenos. The Dark Eldar had never been anything but trouble to us before, so I understand, but still. Not even a little curious? Eldar have powerful technology, and they were stuck by a simple gravity field?

After some discussion with the Dark Eldar messenger, they decided to go to these two civilizations and find these items that may help in our escape, though the crew still wasn’t particularly interested in working with the xenos. I opted to stay behind, and jumped over to the Argent Blade to visit Josephine and make sure she was okay after what happened in the warp.

Later I heard that while the group that went to the Brotherhood civilization had virtually no issues, and basically went in and out, the other group accidentally summoned a demon, nearly died, and almost killed the man they were supposed to be bargaining with.

It seems that space grants us no kindnesses in our travels.

The Dark Eldar had offered us assistance in navigation the Yu’Vath Fortress and finding the thing to blow up, but it seemed the group who had gone to the Brotherhood ship had different plans – in order to obtain help from the God-Emperor fearing monks, they had promised to launch the asteroid into the Fortress, effectively killing off the entire civilization there. Apparently these monks hold a hefty grudge.

With little argument about the ethical implications of such a maneuver, we completed it, only bothering to save two people from the asteroid first – a woman who had apparently been helpful, and the leader of the civilization who had nearly burnt to death in the demon fight. Sometimes I question the choices my crew makes, but I’m here, I’m alive, and I’m out of my family’s reach, so I can’t be too upset, I suppose.

The destruction of the construct sent out a wave of psychic energy, revealing to us the Fortress’s past, from when it was destroyed backwards. Of great importance, it showed us a time when Caiaphus Orthesian got caught here and used some artifact to escape. Then, at the very beginning of the Fortress’s existence, it was shown to have housed an impossibly powerful artifact. The name resonated in our minds: Shattersphere. It was clear that the artifact was the fully constructed version of the pieces Caiaphus had later used to escape this same gravity field.

After the vision passed, we received a message from our other ship that the Prometheus had left without a trace, or a message. Simply vanished into the warp. This upset us all, especially Lumi, and the immediate consensus was that we had to track it down.

When the Eldar contacted us again, they didn’t seem bothered by our change of plans at all. This time, instead of the messenger, the captain of the ship greeted us.

“My name is Salaine Morne. And you,” she said, leveling her finger at the camera, “the Orthesian Dynasty, owe me a favour.”

“What’s that?” someone, maybe Inessa, asked.

“Long ago, when your ancestor… Clancy? Cognacious? Caiaphus! When Caiaphus Orthesian passed through the twin warp storms, he stopped on my Nexus of Shadows and stole something of great value from me: a piece of the Shattersphere.”

Shock rippled through the group. Feigning ignorance, Inessa asked what the Shattersphere was.

“It is of no importance. Suffice it to say that it is valuable, and meant a great deal to me. However, I will let bygones be bygones if you will assist me in taking back the Nexus of Shadows.”

After some deliberation, and realizing that we couldn’t possibly escape the Eldar ship in the Argent Blade, we decided to strike a deal – they help us find the Prometheus, and we help Salaine take back the Nexus of Shadows. She explained that if we took back the Nexus first, she’d have access to an enormous network of spies and allies to help us find our ship, and we begrudgingly agreed to her terms – Nexus first, then Prometheus. She accepted these terms, then left with an armada of ships – far more than had been around the Fortress earlier. We must not have noticed their arrival.

One small transport ship stayed behind, and Charlabelle hailed us, stating that once we had made arrangements and decided which ship to take, she would take us to Salaine’s location. Baffled, we asked what she was doing working with the Xenos, and she simply said, “Desperate times, desperate measures.”

Directly after, we were approached by a Disciple of Thule, who explained that he was responsible for the warp worm, and that his group had wanted to bring us to this Yu’Vath Fortress so he could discover clues about the Shattersphere. The artifact itself wasn’t on the Fortress, he explained, but there was a lead to another planet near the twin warp storms that has more Yu’Vath artifacts and ruins on it. This is a trail that could lead us closer to Caiaphus, and the increasingly twisted past of the Orthesian Dynasty.

We have decided to split up into two groups, each taking a ship to the two destinations, to try and cover more ground at once. I will be going to look for the Yu’Vath ruins – despite my interest in the Eldar, I do not think the Nexus will be a good place to find what I’m looking for. Besides, these Yu’Vath seem absolutely fascinating.

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The Knight-Errant of Spectoris
An incoming message from a servant of the Orthesian Dynasty.

//Incoming Astropathic Transmission//

//Source = House Janus, Coronacht Hold, Spectoris Secundus, Spectoris System, Calixis Sector, Segmentum Obscurus//

Noble Lord-Captain Cornelius Orthesian, allow me to express my great enthusiasm at the return of you and your Dynasty. I am Ophelia, of House Janus, Knight-Errant of Spectoris.

For over two-thousand years, the Knights-Errant of House Janus have served the Orthesian Dynasty, our primary duty being that of the defense of the Agri-World, Spectoris Secundus — a world long ago founded by the Lord-Captain Caiaphas Orthesian, at the close of the Angevin Crusade. Under the vigilant watch of House Janus, the Dynasty’s holdings on Spectoris Secundus have withstood the predations of the Imperium of Man for thousands of years.

Alas, it is with great regret that I admit to you that I have failed as your servant, and the protector of Spectoris.

Two years ago, Spectoris was preyed upon by a fleet of Chaos Reavers — bloodthirsty heretics who rained fire onto our world, from the skies above. Though I fought valiantly, forcing the heretics to flee, the damage had been done.

Something in the ordnance that they bombarded the planet with — vivid blue flames — has left the land barren. Vast swathes of land have been corrupted to the point that they won’t produce a single crop. An Agri-World that cannot produce crops is all but worthless.

I have failed in my duty, as Spectoris is no longer an asset to either the Imperium or to the Orthesian Dynasty.

And, despite my failure to the Dynasty, I would have the audacity to ask an immense favor of my Lord-Captain Orthesian.
The Planetary Governor of Spectoris, Governor Grimmis Vard, has publicly denounced the name of House Janus, citing our failure to defend Spectoris. I would be stripped of rank, and the Imperial Knight, Winter Sentinel, would be taken from my family’s care, transferred

The only hope for House Janus lies in the Koronus Expanse, in the service of the Orthesian Dynasty.

If you were to call upon my services, invoking your right as the bearer of the Orthesian Warrant of Trade, I could rightfully be transferred to serve in your endeavors in the Koronus Expanse. If not, the Imperial Knight would be pulled from Spectoris, and out of the service of the Orthesians.

Though it is brazen of me to request such a favor — when it is I who failed the Orthesian Dynasty by letting Spectoris be rendered useless — your only other option is to lose the advantage that an Imperial Knight provides to your Dynasty.

The choice is yours — leave me to suffer the consequences of my failure, or seize the opportunity to have the advantage of an Imperial Knight in your direct service.

— Lady Ophelia Janus

//End Transmission//

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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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