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.