The Flight of the Lazarus

Command Platform Psymphonic Log

Ishvaal Caine, Adeptus Astra Telepathica
ENTRY A

To the dismay of the crew - and doubtless the Captain himself - Rogal Quinn is dead. Though he left a final will and testament, none among his officers knew with any certainty what his wishes were in respect of his funeral, never mind the succession or captaincy of his flagship. It seems despite his age, Rogal was rather taken unawares by his death. His documents have often referred only to as his "true heir", a person he no doubt intended at some point to conceive. Unfortunately the line of descent is by no means clear. We have done as best we can. Several of the late Captain's closest (and most senior) confidants have taken our return to Imperial space as an opportunity to retire. Predictably this has caused something of an internal crisis, as ambitious officers have jostled for power within the new structure. Several senior roles remain vacant, but Severus, Uther and I have managed to seize key seats on the former 'Small Council'. These close allies will take on the roles of Arch Confessor and High-Seneschal respectively. Under Rogal, the First Officer and Factotum used their close association with the Captain to wield power far above their station. We have 'consolidated' this aspect of those relationship to better reflect the inviolate trust between the Captaincy and his closest officers. In other words, relegating both to responsibilities only slightly more demanding that that of a personal assistant. The disciplinary responsibilities of these posts have been transferred into my role, that of Deck Commander. Our first act was the consolidation of power, with the installation of our old ally Magos Kovenikus as the new Enginseer Prime. With his support, we will control almost all functions of the vessel from the command platform. We agree that our collective vision, and this structured state of affairs will serve the interests of the Lazarus far better than the greatly haphazard, compartmentalised approach favoured by old Rogal. Of course, our actions are motivated only by a sense to duty, in order to provide this untried successor Captain with the stablest and most efficiently managed vessel possible.

ENTRY 1

It was never the habit of Lord Captain Quinn to make his own record of events befalling the Frigate Lazarus or it's sister ships, preferring to enlist remembrancers or to have me exhume my own recollections telepathically. In my new role as Deck Commander I shall continue the habit he imparted while I was his enforcer, until such time as his successor directs me otherwise. I daresay this Uriah Quinn will have enough on his mind at the outset of his captaincy. Leaving the gilt halls of the Scintillan Exequatur Courts bearing Seals of Representation, the Lazarus had been re-launched under the command of our fledgling Captain. Lately retrieved from a misadventure on Footfall by the intervention of the House, Uriah has received a whirlwind instruction in his shipboard actions and responsibilities. He is Footfallen by birth, and thereby not entirely ignorant of the affairs of Traders. We have observed his ability to absorb and retain information with some approval. He is also greatly energetic and creative. Even so, he has never been groomed for command, and has had some trouble in calibrating the exact amount of personal intervention that is necessary in each department. The Lazarus runs with relative self-sufficient ease, overseen by well-trained foremen or specialists at every level; Captain Quinn has made something of a nuisance of himself by dabbling in areas in which he has little professional skill. His first duty as Captain was to oversee the void-burial of his late father, a man he admittedly knew only distantly. The ceremony is an elaborate tradition many thousands of years old, yet Uriah felt compelled to give a fairly extensive speech. He also greatly discomfited the priestly delegation present when he read a series of long passages from a little known, somewhat discredited book of saintly exploits. He has occasionally personally instructed our riflemen on the ranges, even participating in the Enginseers Council before his polite but emphatic ejection. Gladly, this inexperience has only once put lives at risk.

As we made space toward Footfall on our return journey, we approached the Maw. This is an established Warp Roil dividing the outer Imperial territories from our destination in the Koronus Reach. Piercing to the other side would necessitate some fairly acrobatic Navigation-work, for which our warp-guide Kesh had been extensively preparing. Leaving the Navigator to his arts, the bridge officers withdrew to the dining room to plan our latest endeavour. The hold was full of Calixian machinery and supplies, equipment which by broad strokes would be useful to any settlement or frontier colony; land-movers, demountable habs, atmosphere regulators and a large body of mechanized infantry and heavy weapons. Likewise our sister-vessel - the Golden Bounty- awaited in Footfall, loaded full with an even greater cargo. With the Emperor's Grace, our plunge into the unclaimed depths of space would yield a suitable world on which to seize a beach-head and establish the first outpost of the Quinn Dynasty. Some days passed at full-warp, our vessel slicing a path past the Witching World and the spinning debris-field known only as the Battleground. Registering on our instruments only as distant reality-shoals, Kesh nevertheless steered us a wide berth. But after a week's passage submerged, alerts began to flash on the bridge, warning of a Gellar malfunction. Here the Captain's inexperience came to the fore, as he ordered an emergency detranslation. Despite our best efforts, the small council did not have time to belay the order before it was passed around the ship. Claxons hooted as the vessel's sub-structure groaned with the strain of the sudden arrest in velocity. We plunged back into reality in a storm of warp-lighting. I shall never hear it said that the Captain was mistaken per say. However, Kovenicus reported from his sanctum that the fault could easily have been repaired in transit. Kesh has gone into a state of mild shock from the trauma, which will delay our retranslation for some hour or two. When Severus related this fact to him, the Captain responded with outrage. He ejected Severus from the bridge with an admonition that it was hardly a Confessor's department. We can add a short-temper then, to his catalogue of qualities. I intervened thereafter and hope I have succeeded in restoring peace. Over my urging the Captain has elected to resume travel, rather than visit the nearby Hermitage site for reconsecration.

A number of disturbing events have disrupted the business of the Lazarus these past few weeks. Uther has always enjoyed access to a wide network of friends and informants from among the ratings. This fact is not known generally at all, but as High-Seneschal this web has become even more invaluable. He recently shared reports with senior staff of mutinous sentiment in the lower levels of the ship. We have been at Warp for several weeks now and some have begun to blame Master Kesh for the delay in our arrival. The Warp is unpredictable at the best of times, so as ever, this is a misguided sentiment, nothing more than superstition. Even so, the Arch Confessor has made an especial effort to give poignant psalms in his rounds this week, praising the holy work of the Navis Nobilite and their role aboard the ship. In addition, Boronoth - our Master at Arms - has posted additional guards at the accessway to Kesh and his disciples' quarters. The Captain also doubled their rotations. To his credit, these measures arrested at least one attempt by unscrupulous ratings to sneak into the command section of the ship. Whether related or not, our prudence has been rewarded. Yet worse was still to come.

Following his report to the Small Council, Uther's chief informant fell silent for days. Strange goings on began to emerge in the same district, whether reports of ghost-sightings or phantom sounds. Over several days it became unavoidably clear that foul play was befalling the crewmen there. Soon Uther's entire network had gone dark in fear. The Captain called in his counsellors once again. As we stood astride the Command platform debating the best course of action I found my attention distracted. An unsettling presence haunted the edges of my mind, intangible yet I grew increasingly sure of its threat. I could read screens displaying the integrity of the Gellar field, yet before our very eyes there came blooming into existence a blasphemous cloud of fangs and smoke. I shouted a warning as my psychic senses finally pinged, whipping out my sidearm and firing into it's midst. It retaliated with terrible force, blasting me off my feet with a psychic assault. Bleeding from the ears, I drove it back beneath the deck, but was shortly detained by the Captain's armsmen. Their blunter senses had missed the growing presence, but at my insistence eventually joined me as I set off belowdecks in pursuit of the fleeing monstrosity. I was glad also of the company of Brother Severus and several of his flock; It is fitting that the faithful should lead such a hunt. Through darkening corridors and lightless vaults we pursued the creature until a final confrontation exploded in the very bowels of the Enginarium. By foul artifice, a corporeal daemon had slipped aboard the vessel. Before us drifted the mangled, bloody host the creature had chosen, a fate -I have no doubt - it had intended for my own, more resilient frame. It cackled and taunted in an indecipherable tongue, then let threw up its scarred and blood-stained arms. Without awaiting the assault, the Arch Confessor barrelled headlong into the dreadful figure, his relic-blade buzzing. All around us our armsmen rebelled, turning their guns upon their officers. Kovenicus bore the brunt of it, rounds sparking wildly off his armoured bulk, but he shortly quelled the mutinous men with blurring strikes from his shock-staff. I had found cover from which to offer fire-support, but to my astonishment Severus had single-handedly shredded apart the unholy beast in a few short seconds. A wreckage of human remains lay scattered around his feet, sizzling in a perfect circle. He collapsed to one knee and surrendered to the medics as I sombrely informed Uther of the fate of his informant. I had recognised a scrap of human flesh that had once been the poor man's head lying in the scorched remains. I pray the Emperor we have fewer surprises on our next leg. A mere day of travel separates us from the launching point of our endeavour at the Free Port of Footfall and the beginning in earnest of our Great Matter.

ENTRY 2

With great relief, we have lain eyes upon distant Footfall, first port beyond the border on the Imperium. Though yet a reflective speck out the forward viewports, the instruments reflect it's true scale. It is a repurposed shipyard; the a station of a size with my home-platform of Port Wander, but there the comparison must end. Lawlessness is rife, as the varying factions of Koronus vie openly for control of its' capital and resources. Even the Upper Districts, gated communities on the utmost soaring towers are overrun with villains, renegades and scavengers, fat and full with the stolen bounties of the Expanse. These uncultured, bejewelled decadents - which Uther refers to as 'new money' - are the very men we have come so far to truck with; we have a need to make purchase in a singular commodity.

We make port and contact the Golden Bounty, it's Captain Wuld generously meeting us as the docks. He is in high spirits, describing the purifying trials his crew and vessel faced in the Warp. During his wait, he has begun inquiries after a Star-Map, following rumours of a vox-return and other clues of an unclaimed nearby colony. Our Seneschal takes up the inquiry, and before long makes contact with a disgraced former Arch-Cartographex who claims to have knowledge of the system. Footfall is awash with the rumor and the Captain is wary of scammers. He directs Uther and I to take measure of the man first, lest the reputation of the Dynasty come under threat.

The scarred, eyeless individual is not a sight to inspire confidence, but his intentions are relatively pure. Upon meeting him in a dismal twist bar, I perform a surreptitious mind-probe and confirm the truth of his story. He has the map - stolen from his former employer - and is willing to sell. Unfortunately, he has problems of his own. A scout-frigate of the Adeptus Arbite's Precinct Fleet is at dock in Footfall. Though nominally outside the bounds of Imperial Law, Footfall is subject to rules of it's own. Chiefly, the rule of the strong. Rogue Traders, Commercias and the Banking Clans control almost all of the Shallows around Footfall, but the Adeptes are muscling in. Despite their lack of official remit, the Arbite are a new and powerful force in the region, capable of doing more-or-less whatever they like so long as it does not bring them into conflict with the other para/military powers. With the continuing development of a Koronus Battlefleet, their reach is likely only to grow longer and more legitimate. But for now, they remain vulnerable.

The Cartographer is a front-man for a secretive criminal syndicate dealing in ephemera returning from excavations in the expanse. His fears drift to the forefront of his mind as he introduces himself, fears that his usefulness to the syndicate have recently been outweighed by the attention he has drawn from the Arbite. It seems the theft of a Star-Map does not go unnoticed. Though they are not onto him yet, he dreads that they have his scent. He wants desperately to sell the map and abscond from the station, but is caught between his former employers and the Law. A loathsome plan is taking shape in his mind as I withdraw, my duty done. I leave Uther to nut out an arrangement, which I do not doubt will involve sabotage, murder and treason. I have observed much that is distasteful in my time aboard the Lazarus but the viciousness of men in fear for their lives has a particularly foul flavor to me. Uther returned some days later with the document in a stasis-tube. The noosphere is running a story about a dreadful accident aboard an Arbites orbit-breaker. Severus comments on it over dinner, oblivious, and Uther brazenly entertains the conversation. "Dreadful, dreadful," they concur. I say nothing, seeing the callous truth behind their hollow words. The burden of a telepath. Over the next few days the final preparations are made, the quartermasters reporting full barracks, ammunition and supplies. In concert, though with precious little ceremony, The Lazarus and the Golden Bounty break port and glide out into the yawning, sightless depths of the Black. We lay a course for Gamma X Epsilon 5 Quadrant AA642, a forgotten system of the Cauldron provisionally named Bethany.

A week or two has passed and several unscheduled Drops have been forced by the rough and uncertain conditions. We are forging a new warp-route, and the going is slow. Mapping beacons and astrography routines are cumbersome protocols that demand precise and expert attention. The Captain and I share a frustration in the slow going. I intervene in a disorderly encounter belowdecks when an Emmisariat of the Malacites and his entourage clash with the ship's security officers. The mess hall is straightened back out with minimal fuss, but neither group is glad to have been called to account by a bridge officer. I suspect resentment will continue to percolate.

Our voyage to Bethany is complete. We have broken Warp some tens of thousands of miles out yet in the Chasm between systems, wary of stellar debris or other unknown phenomenon. Kovenicus reports that any forgoing expedition failed to lay claim to the system, and Uriah oversees a ceremony in which marker-buoys are dropped to that affect. The Small Council celebrates with wine as the Cartographer Prime and his servitors go to work, my own duties ending when my astrotelepathic Hail goes unanswered. Some hours later the broad strokes of Bethany's composition have been sketched out. The details can be found in the Librarium Cortex of both fleet vessels. Of prime interest to the Council is evidence of sub-Imperial settlements on the primary ring of planets. A Lord-Confessor Alric, formerly of the Pilgrim vessel Saintly Progress makes contact as we approach the Frontier world of Bethany Prime. With some difficulty we are able to puzzle out his unique dialect of Proto-High, and an exchange of introductions is made. His flock have been here some centuries it seems, forgotten settlers sent out into the unknown in the name of the martyred Saint Drusus. The planetary composition of Bethany space seems to correspond in some way to their fervently-held religious doctrines, and they state their claim upon it's many territories. We are warned against further progress into the system, lest we face Drusus' legendary "Trials of Temperament." Severus, a devout Drusite himself, departs with a lander and a congregation of preachers, insistent on learning more about this well-preserved splinter-group of his Church's worship. The Bounty awaits his return in geosynch. Confident in our righteousness, the remainder of the fleet press coreward.

I confess to a black and creeping fear. After our recent Warp journeys, it has become apparent how attractive we psykers are to the Daemonkind who dwell there. Though the Scholastica Astra Telepathica warns it's students of such perils, this is the first voyage during which I have accounted myself a trained Psychic, my mind a honed and burning beacon in the Aethyr. And already I have been the focal point of Daemonic attention, an incursion that has continued to trouble my sleep each night. I have a terrible premonition, a figure that slouches about the shadows of my dreaming mind, sloughing filth; a rotting, grinning, skull-like visage behind a murky veil and a sensation of stink and suffocation. I dread what it may portend.

Not idly did Alric forewarn, for a pair of military-grade Raider craft have broken cover from a gravity-well astern of us. I have only a moment to record evidence of their appearance before - it seems - we are to do battle. Again my Hails have gone unanswered, and our vox now crackles with the unending chants of the encroaching fanatics. The shout of 'Action Stations' has gone forth across the ship, and I am needed on the gunnery deck.

ENTRY 3

Though by no means this crew's first taste of space-combat, we have been rattled as though amateurs by this confrontation. The Lazarus stood alone against the rabid Raiders, hammered with Macrofire that constantly shook and shattered our shields and armour plating. The slow circling and exchange of fire favored our enemies, whose combined firepower almost doubled our own. It is only by virtue of faithful Lazarus' significant damage soak that we survive to ply the stars. Our enemies lay scattered across the void in clouds of hot, reflective debris. One was burned from the inside out when our cannons set off a reactor explosion. The other careened out of control in a desperate ploy to avoid our return barrage, running afoul of a micro-asteroid field. Our flagship's Hull Integrity is now significantly degraded. Though we have been victorious, I fret that the ship may no longer be fully sealed against the rigors of Warp-Travel. After our recent … infestation - I worry at what might get in through the tears, next time we are called to submerge Lazarus in the Soulfield. We have no way to affect proper repairs out here in the Black.

Our efforts to patch up the ship have been bolstered by the arrival of Severus and the Golden Bounty. Our vox-systems - damaged in the battle - had failed to send an automated acknowledgment-ping to the Confessor back on Bethany Prime. Concerned that we needed help, faithful Severus gathered his flock and braved the gravity well in search of us. He is welcome - our latest discovery may call for his expertise. Deathworld designated "Evergreen" is a planet of sprawling, toxic jungles and deadly, corrosive atmosphere; it holds little of our attention. But perhaps the system's defining characteristic is Caledonia, a massive, ancient industrial world - long abandoned - whose irradiated atmosphere, heavily pollution-clouds and strange, soaring structures speak of an extinct Archeotech legacy. Spearing into the heavens from a mega-city base is a Slender Mass Conveyance System or "Sky-hook", an impossible piece of technology that enables the resupply of starships by directly linking the surface to orbit. It is incalculably valuable, and the Captain insists we seize it.

While we were away Brother Severus has produced, of all things, a treatise on the Drusian cult. I have included it here for posterity. By Will or Sword; a study of the cult of Drusus in the Imperium and the Koronus expanse

Uriah has assembled a small insertion team to be conveyed by guncutter to the surface. The small counsel will be accompanied by 20 of our Malachite mercenaries in full atmo-sealed combat armour, with rubberised anti-radiation lining. Making landfall in the outer boroughs of the abandoned city, faint auspex return forewarn that the city may not be so empty as it appears. As we dip beneath the clouds, we notice that all our vox-frequencies are drowned in the same, mindlessly repeated chants, prayers from the Book of Saint Drusus. Severus holds out hope that we will find faithful here. I am rather less optimistic, the dread of my dreams gripping tighter. Our cautious foot-advance is interrupted after perhaps an hour by an encounter with a robed figure. It intones a challenge, beginning with a prayer which Severus answers. Ingenious; to ensure that only those versed in Drusian occultery may pass about the city, it's denizens pass between them this simple code-phrase. Regrettably, the Saint-Lore of Drusus has degraded and mutated much since the long centuries of these pilgrim's exile; Severus' phrase is correct, but according to the books as currently recited. The figure gives a scream, unfurls it's electro-lashes and stampedes into our midst. Our soldiers break for cover and hose the Flagellant with lasrifle fire; aerosol- sprays of flesh and blood scorch away from bone with each impact, but it comes on nonetheless. Several of our men are scythed in two by the slicing impacts of the flails. As it turns to advance upon the Captain, I forge a great spear of Psychic force and plunge it twisting into the creature's vapid mind. It staggers, slowed by the searing attack and drooling long spools of blood. Despite my efforts it lashes viciously at Uriah and Severus, opening bleeding, smoking welts across both of their flesh. It's final, punch-drunk attack clatters sizzling off Uriah's shield before Uther steps up to finish it with a shrieking blast of his heirloom sidearm. I slump against a wall in exhaustion; rarely have I used my telepathy as a weapon. But there is little time for rest, as motion-returns bloom across Kovenicus' auspex. We hurry on, hopeful of avoiding any more monsters.

Before long we reach the foot of the fortress enclosing the Mass Conveyor. We probe carefully with Servo-Skull Epsilon but it is driven off by flashes of las-fire before it reaches the distant gate. Brother Severus steps forward, insistent that he will be able to reason with fellow faithful Drusites. We each express our concern, but in his faith he declares that no worshipper of Drusus would fire upon a priest so-attired as he, dressed head-to-foot in the gaudy finery of the saint's own church. We wait with baited breath as he walks slowly toward the fortress, chanting loudly in beautiful high-gothic prayer his arms outstretched. For a moment, the bulwark seems quiet. Then with terrible, scything fury, a multi-laser turret unleashed it's salvo a cut down the Arch-Confessor mid-prayer. Other cannons burst to life, hosing our position. I know we must retreat, that the Brother must surely be dead. In the face of such superior firepower, the only expedient course of action is to withdraw to a more tactically viable position, call in reinforcements and begin an armored incursion under the cover of air-support. But against all odds, Severus lives, his cries faint but just audible above the roaring fusillade. Uriah leaps into action. He gathers around him all the remaining guardsmen and charges out into the open ground firing a return volley. Their lasguns flash ineffectively off the armour plating of the auto-turrets, and several are consumed, turned for an instant into burning silhouettes before collapsing into ash. They huddle around Uriah and the Confessor, interposing their bodies in selfless sacrifice, between their officers and the enemy artillery. I send an urgent shout to the Lazarus, a strained telepathic targeting order that sees the company medic and our barely-living priest scooped up in a blaze of sickly light by our vessel's Teleportarium. Under heavy attack, the Captain and his guardsmen retreat, more men exploding with each moment. Finally we reach cover, and return at a jog to the waiting lander. I alert the pilot of our imminent return telepathically, and he replies that several Archo-Flagellants have attempted to approach the vessel. I instruct him that any such persons should be fired upon immediately with the ship-board weapons, and he complies with relish. The chatter of the cutter's rotator cannons draws us quickly back to it's position.

After some hours recuperating in the Bounty's infirmary, the Captain has returned to the bridge. I present him with a plan to utilize the Malachites to seize control of the SMCS from the top down, rolling our Chimera transports onto the upper platform, with flamer and shotgun squads to clear the warrens immediately below. The Magos will then interface with the device, closing down its life-support systems, enabling us to fortify the entrance and wait-out the death or surrender of any within. He agrees, adding only that he intends to take personal command of the insertion force. As we approach the mag-clamp, my one apprehension is borne out. The relic is governed by an extremely powerful machine spirit, Magos Kovenicus blurting in agony as it overwhelms his countermeasures. The platform forcefully latches onto the Bounty as we disgorge our forces, performing a swift diagnostic and activating the lift. I order a retreat but the Captain countermands it, having barricades brought up to the mouth of the lift. He is intent on seeing what the enemy has sent with his own eyes. Fortifications are erected as best we can, before the payload arrives in the bowels of the Bounty. My nightmares are given flesh. Forth from the blackness of the Conveyor's interior, hulking figures lurch. Filthy bio-containment suits leaking clouds of foul-smelling smoke stagger out into the carbo-bay, bearing strange weapons that fire arcs of green lightning. Radiation alarms sound across the ship and containment protocols send bulkhead doors slamming down all around us. Several of our units are unexpectedly cut-off from the battle, leaving us desperately struggling for survival. Lasfire rips into their ranks as our crew-served weapons return fire, but infantry-arms seem to have little effect. Those hit by the ungodly lightning are disassembled, shredded apart molecule by molecule until the air is filled with clouds of human micro-matter. Choking in horror, the Council struggle to don re-breathers. The advance of the monsters is relentless, breaking past the barricades and laying about the Malachites with rusty meat-working tools. Kovenicus wades out into the midst of the foe with his staff, his heavy blows and barking hellpistol scything a hole in their spearhead. Careless of his own safety, Uther sprints out into the open and hurls himself towards the interface-panel controlling the doors to the hideous realm below. As he leans out to provide covering fire, the Captain is struck a glancing blow by the lightning, dropping his weapon from necrotising fingers and falling hard, heaving up his guts. I charge forward with a shout, preparing an unfettered psychic assault on his assailant, but as I do it turns it's face towards me. Behind the filthy glass of it's containment suit I see no eyes, but the dead hollows of the creature in my dreams. A lipless grin stretches across it's face as I attempt to withdraw from my attack, but our minds are already connected, and I am pulled, struggling into the sightless void. I feel a sickening sense of familiarity, of churning dread as I struggle to breath in foul cloying air. I attempt to send my awareness higher, away from my body, but I am trapped, suffocating behind a screen of cloudy glass. I try to move, and feel putrid fluids sloshing around my limbs. My limbs. I am the creature now, my own hands are raised to bayonet my sworn liege Uriah, and across the field of screaming battle Ishvaal Caine stands laughing, his empty eyes wide, a look of dreadful, insane joy stretching his handsome face into a sickening grin. I start to scream, but a jarring impact rips through my back and out of my stomach sending ropes of pustular intestine spinning out across the deck. Heaving blood and brackish swamp-water, I collapse to my side to see Severus limp forward with a smoking pistol. He spits in my visor and calls me abomination, before my head slumps down and I die a heretic's death.

++Astropathic Message Received
+Decrypting…
+Source Identified; Gamma X Epsilon 5 Quadrant AA642, Choir/ Frigate Lazarus
My Lord Ignateous,
I send to you at a time of great uncertainty, and ask for your guidance. The great matter of which we spoke proceeds as planned, with the establishment of a dynastic settlement in this unclaimed quarter of space now well underway. I can report that GXE5QAA642 is a viable system claimed in the name of Quinn with many resources suitable for exploitation. I am forced to spare any detail, as my Astropath is greatly weakened by our latest trauma, the matter of which we must speak. After all our efforts to discover the closest descendant of your son Rogal, a complication has developed. Uriah Quinn has recently received an extremely high dose of radiation, and is currently gripped with debilitating sickness. The infirmaries of the Lazarus are well equipped but cannot arrest such severe and exotic symptoms forever. The failsafe systems of control aboard the ship require that any time in which a new course is laid, the true Captain, scion of the Quinn bloodline validate the course change. This is done with a reading of his or her pure DNA. The Lazarus no longer responds to DNA samples provided by Uriah. Our medicaes report that it has mutated significantly due to the radiation event. The family flagship is currently listing, caught in the lazy orbit of a world we are currently pacifying. The holy work remains unfinished. The Lazarus needs a Captain. It's arcane workings are known to you, better than any other. I beg some instruction, that I may complete the duties charged of me by your son.
Yours faithfully, and in hope,
Lt Commander Uther Salamund.

++Astropathic Message Composed
+Recipient; Gamma X Epsilon 5 Quadrant AA642, Choir/ Frigate Lazarus
Consult the Helix Augur.
- Ignateous
+Ecrypting…
++Message Sent

ENTRY 3-II
For the second time in as many years, the Lazarus is under new leadership. Young Zacharias has been aboard his family's flagship but a few days, yet he has wrought much change. I was a fool not to see it. The lad has been groomed for the position of Lord-Captain since infancy, and the trait most surely imparted by such an education is an intolerance for recalcitrance. Upon assuming the position, Zacharias began giving commands and making arrangements showing a skilled and intuitive grasp of his new role. To his credit, he made a proper display of deference, delegation and deferral to the expertise of his officers, but several among the senior staff have become accustomed to a greater-than-usual degree of independence during the tenure of our last Captain. Many -myself included - had been enacting plans and contingencies of our own in the absence of a Captain, some of which would need to be reversed abruptly under Zacharias' orders. His quick appraisal of the relative loyalties of the existing officers would be admirably incisive, were it not so ruthless; those hesitant to accept his untried leadership have been largely put out to pasture. I myself have been relegated to the Astral Choir, my loyalty to Uriel counting against me I suppose. I am to be 'rehabilitated' after my recent psychic trauma, which I understand will involve long periods of contemplation and prayer in the Astropath's Tower and very little time on the bridge. Confessor Severus has had better fortune, 'awarded' the governorship of the new colony on Bethany Prime. In what Zacharias calls a 'cabinet reshuffle', several of the close advisers and confidants of his College years have been ensconced in senior positions. Surviving the purge is canny Uther, and Magos Primus Kovenicus, fresh from his shared misadventure with Zacharius on the distant Omnicron. This is my final entry on behalf of the Small Council. Hereafter I will offer service to the Quinn Dynasty in whatever capacity the Heir entertains, hopeful that my loyalty and years of service will one day warrant a return to Councillorhood.


ENTRY 4

Command Platform Psymphonic Log

Proctor Solomon, Arch-Militant and Officer of Record

Here follows the account of Proctor Roy Solomon, formerly of the Calixia Castilis Precinct-Fleet, now Arch-Militant of the Frigate Lazarus under the auspice of the Quinn Dynastic Warrant. Our current position is Gamma X Epsilon 5 Quadrant AA642, designation "Bethany", taking up the pacification of the interior worlds under Captain Zacharius Quinn. As is protocol, I hereby officially relieve the esteemed forgoing Officer of Record Ishvaal Caine of the duties therein entailed, resuming them myself.

Captain Zacharius has taken command of House Quinn as the carrier of it's purest genetic material. He is the hidden heir of old warhorse Rogal, cached away for years in the Omnicron facility against the escalating efforts of assassins and saboteurs. I recall that I had served the old man for near a decade before he charged me with the safety of his son during the formative years of his studies. Even in those days the College had a foul reputation as a treacherous place, but Rogal thought the prospect of a non-Imperialised education too rare an opportunity to pass up. The location was also incredibly remote, far from the reach of his rivals and as secure as could be accomplished so far out in The Dark. I hesitate to speak of the long and troubling history of the Omnicron, nor the measures I was forced to over the years to keep Zacharius alive. I may pen that chronicle one day, but for now, suffice it to say that it became apparent to both the Heir and myself that it would be best to draw our time there to an early close. Though he owes some years and a final piece of research yet, Zacharias bribed the an old Astropath from a visiting vessel to convey his message out into the Black; it was time for his return. We spent fretful hours after the sending in fear that it would be discovered by the Council Members - the mysterious overseers of the facility. Yet to our shock it was House Quinn who responded most quickly, a mere day or two after the message was sent. A ship was en-route to bear us away, and many preparations had to be made.

As we scrambled to pack up the household, a messenger arrived from the Council. Whether by ill-fortune or errant suspicion, they were to engage Zacharias in an 'urgent professional project'. This was not uncommon, as from time to time visitors or supplicants would arrive at the facility in search of occult or esoteric lore. Invariably such heretics would offer the College grand and unusual prizes in exchange for their professional services, and the Council was very … insistent, that it's researchers fulfilled their allocated tasks comprehensively. I accompanied Quinn to the meet the client, along with several household Wardens. We were summoned to a remote hangar bay. For a moment I thought we were being ambushed. Behind a cowardly stealth-field, 20 cero-armored xenos-creatures awaited us. Their leader was towering, and spindly, it's leathery, blue-grey skin hanging off oddly melted features. It looked brittle and killable. But the xenos-scum are tolerated under Omnicron law, and it's retainers trained strange, humming rifles at us as we entered. The creature charged Zacharias to compile a comprehensive report on an astro-aethyric anomaly known to exist in the Expanse.

We returned to our quarters to receive a Magos Kovenicus, representative of the Quinn Dynasty. Zacharias related a plan to both of us, wherein he could accelerate his research in deference to the urgency of the Magos' mission. However, he would need access to a senior-researcher's knowledge and facilities. Offering his aid, Kovenicus joined us as we made away across the College to the upper-spires. We were led into a chamber of his fortified laboratory where an auto-proxy awaited us. We negotiated back and forth for some time, but Lord-Magos Malachai was very comfortable with the resources his wealth and prestige already attracted. After some time I circumspectly suggested to Zacharias that we might offer a more clandestine service. A deal was quickly struck. An infamous tech-heretic researcher - Borthis- had resisted the Magos' recent espionage attempts. We agreed to perform a raid upon his cogitation banks and return the findings in exchange for the resources Zacharias needed.

Some days later we delivered several slightly-scorched cogitation towers into the care of the Magos' security-servitors. The raid had gone smoothly, with minimal casualties and nothing suggesting the involvement of House Quinn. Regrettably, one of the researchers had been burned-out from within by his attempt to interface with the heretic's computers. We sent the bounty to Malachai with a clear warning. A reciprocal delivery of strange machines and research-stacks arrived an hour or two later. Zacharias swiftly got underway.

Days passed before the incident. We were stirred from sleep by the thunderous up-cycling of the life support systems. I rushed into the lab, where power-outages and settings-wipes plagued the night-shift researchers. Our security doors slid-limply open, their mag-locks de-powered. I surmised we would soon be under attack. I sounded a general alert, summoning the Wardens and readying the household for an emergency evacuation. The comms channels were alive with screams of panic. Zacharias emerged in full household regalia, bearing his heirloom plasma pistol. Kovenicus and his detachment of Lathe-soldiers related that 'scrap-code' had infected the station's noosphere - the persistent shriek we could hear was likely the Lord-Magos himself. Their fears were well founded; just as we reached readiness for departure, we heard the muffled shouts and las-reports of intruders at the outer bulwark. Exploding into the chamber came a hulking contingent of Skitari and their artillery-servitors. Several of our men were shredded apart just as I gave the order to scatter to cover and return fire. A vicious firefight broke out across the stack-room, with a near constant fusillade of las-fire scorching down the central aisle. Against the superior armour and combat-implants of the Magos' men, the Wardens and Lathers unleashed a volley of grenades that cleared the upper walk-ways. But the servitors had slain at least half our men before Zacharius and I reached and destroyed them with plasma and naval-blade.

Kovenicus' Chartist vessel awaited in the hangar, our best hope of a clean escape. We fled into the laboratory warrens through a service hatch emerging in a de-powered section of an unfamiliar deck. Almost immediately, a bulkhead slid away to reveal a slavering xenos-monstrosity of unknown type, an escaped specimen from the Biologis department. A red ruin of bones and lab-coats lay scattered around it's feet; it paused just a moment in it's feast before unleashing it's chittering battle-scream. In a furious salvo of plasma, hellgun and grenade-blasts, the creature disintegrated, but not before massacring several more of the men. As we battled on through the winding, hellish corridors of the vault-level, we came under attack again and again and again by the ungodly monsters. Twice the size of a fully-armored man and all-but immune to damage, it often fell to Zacharias' overworked pistol to dispatch the nightmarish creatures. Before we had gotten a third of the way to the hangar, we were out of grenades, all but dry of ammunition and more than three-quarters of us were grievously wounded or dead. Kovenicus' servo-skull would furtively scan for lifesigns before we entered each corridor, yet we seemed to blunder into more aliens regardless. At the last only Quinn, Kovenicus and a handful of Wardens remained, most of us barely standing. To our shock, rounding a bend we came upon a chamber full of the armored xenos-soldiers who had employed us, making a stand against waves of smaller, hound-like monsters. Several of them were wounded, their helmets torn away, revealing slimy blue flesh beneath. Most of these would fall behind, or simply couldn't be roused as we pressed on. Zacharias enlisted the aid of the aliens; they led an assault down the corridors and held each junction with their ungodly fusillades, as Kovenicus performed his tech-rites to open our path through the bulkheads. At the last, Zacharias nursed a severed arm, and I was close to death from continual bleeding. As I watched the last of our brave Wardens consumed in a tide of ripping talons, we burst past the final mag-locks and into the hangar. The aliens were retreating, dragged down by the encroaching monsters but a few feet from the door. I threw the level and sealed the melee behind two feet of void-proof steel.

As we withdrew, gliding out into the dark about the Silver Sovereign, Kovenicus made to console me. "You had no choice," he intoned, " you could not risk the lives of the Heir and the crew for the sake of mere aliens." He has since come to know me better. I require no consolation. Imperial Law decrees that the lives of all xenos are forfeit upon the Emperor's altar. Perhaps that their blood was spilled in the service and preservation of His servants should commend them in death. But I abhor the alien, and harken little to their strange and deceitful ways. I think not.

ENTRY 5
Having seized control of the Lazarus, the Lord Captain has begun to enact his vision for the Dynasty. The vast population of Bethany Prime is pious, hard-working and backwards, a workforce ripe for exploitation by the Imperial Machine. System Governor Severus has been making diplomatic exchanges, paving the way for the arrival of the fleet vessels and settlement structures. Zacharias was welcomed by a small contingent of planetary noble-families, those with the vision to recognise Bethany's true destiny as a dynastic outpost. Together with the senior officers of the fleet, a grand feast was held to celebrate the ascension of the new Captain. Quinn had a large obelisk of asteroid-rock dropped by an orbit breaker to commemorate the occasion, the 'foundation-stone' of Bethany One, the planet's future capital city. Around it, we have installed the first structures of the new settlement, the seat of Brother Severus' government. Equipped with advanced technology, we expect it to subsume the nearest sub-Imperial cities within a few short decades. Not the least of it's assets are Imperial-grade auto-defences and small-arms, which should be quite capable of dissuading adventurism from any misguided neo-feudals in our absence. Having overseen several weeks of satisfactory construction progress, we were able to enjoy a farewell ceremony in the newly minted Administry Hall, a towering structure designed - in the grand Imperial tradition - to inspire fear and religious awe. We hear reports that woodmills, wells, prospecting and subsistence agri-works have begun. Good; in the custodianship of the old Confessor, the city will have to survive on it's own for a while.

The officers of the Golden Bounty and the Malachite 5th Division have welcomed our arrival after a few days sailing. Below us yawns the smog-choked mass of Benthany Secundus and it's insurgent aboriginals. The prize - a Slender Mass Conveyance System - is still rife with corridor-fighting, it's mutant population refusing to surrender. Colonel Brennan of the Malachites assures us that his men will have control of the spire within a few days yet; even so, I have conducted a review of his strategy. He appears to relish the scrutiny, debating the merits of each of my proposed adjustments and accepting several of them. I am pleased; so many in his position would take such advice -one expert to another - as a insult to his craft. Gladly he is more professional than that, and I feel I have gained a friend as well as an ally. In conference we have overseen a successful armoured assault down the main arterial and celebrated with amasec on the command deck of the Lazarus. The Lord Captain joined us later to congratulate the Colonel, and stayed to watch the firestorm assault spread out from the base of the structure. It is estimated that perhaps 30% of the planet's population survived the final purge; arrangements have been made to repurpose the fortress defences to keep it's former masters out. 3 companies of Malachites will remain aboard the installation to secure it against future assaults, led by Colonel Brennan's subordinate Machos. He was declared planetary governor following Brennan's refusal of the position. I believe he chose wisely; there is greater glory to be won in the service of a Rogue Trader than mere Governorship of an obscure mining operation. With the pacification complete, Bethany Secundas needs only a population of workers to become productive.

We forge deeper still into the system, towards the last great unknown - the supposed "Gift" of Drusus. Before us looms an immense Gas planet, surrounded by several moons and a strange dust-cloud. What qualifies it's religious reverence by the pilgrims is not apparent, 'till our augurs are blown by a sudden interference. For several tense minutes we sail blind, when an assault of vitriolic chanting bursts past the static. Kovenicus shouts that augurs are live again, and we scan an oncoming barrage of macrocannon fire. The Captain slams forward the throttle in alarm, hurling the ship into a sharp dive, explosions juddering the unshielded hull as they narrowly miss us. The screens flicker back to life, displaying the schematics of a fortified gas-mining station. It's inhabitants are unleashing a torrent of fire from multiple batteries, hosing after the Lazarus as it performs evasive manoeuvres. The Captain stands resolute at the helm, bellowing orders and swinging the vessel about in a long, spiralling arc. Several of the deckmen are violently sick as the gravimetric pressures plays upon their bodies, the constant, shuddering impact of shells against our shielding and armour creating a near-terminal turbulence 'till we escape the edge of their range. Like a vengeful comet, the frigate describes a fiery path across the void, coming about to deploy the full force of our batteries against the maddened foes. From the weapons-deck, I angrily manipulate the targeting matrices, picking my targets for maximum human impact. Not far off on the command platform, I hear Uther perorating to the ratings, inspiring them to new heights of concerted effort. It is a worthy baptism for this new command group, as each endeavour combined to produce the most masterful display of shipmanship I've yet witnessed. In an awe-inspiring salvo, our forward guns hammered and crippled the station, depowering several critical systems, and weaving gracefully through the return fire. The Council takes a moment to appreciate the beauty of the destruction we have unleashed, as a skein of gas about the station ignites. It burns off harmlessly in space, a breathtaking halo around the dimming sparks of the station spot-fires. We move in to seize the facility as it breathes the last of it's atmosphere out in venting spools.

The facility is in our control, though it has cost the lives of many armsmen to take. Alongside the newly recruited Wardens, I seized the bridge of the station, finding only auto-defences and servitors barring my way. It has been laborious work nonetheless. Kovenicus has been unable to countermand the defence systems, and each component is heavily guarded. He is currently in conference with the Seneschal over our next step. As for the Captain, he has toured the captured sections and declared the station his property. I believe he intends to tow it back to Treadwater for population and repurposing.

While we waited upon the decision of the Magos and Uther, Zacharias and I pored over the Augur reports on the giant's three moons. Of particular interest was a strange reflective return produced by the furthermost. We could see it possessed a gravitational pull out of all proportion with it's size - beyond that nothing marked it out. Upon closer inspection we made a significant find - a fully preserved city of the Chaos-worshipping Yu'Vath. From the writings of Brother Severus, I was dimly aware of the breed - a xenoform with whom Drusus and Angevin himself had clashed millennia ago. Beyond this, almost all knowledge of the creatures is forbidden. Only the Captain knew more of them, chiefly that their battle-constructs were known to far outlast the now-extinct controllers. I held grave misgivings about more closely scrutinizing the ruin, but was unwilling to allow Uther and the Captain to face the risks alone. It was resolved by the Council that a manual search should be undertaken, in case the ancient city harbored either unknown threats or hidden treasures.

Aboard a Halo Lander piloted by Zacharias, Uther and I prepared for a scouting trip. A Chimera combat-transport had been stripped down to compensate for the increased gravity, a strange byproduct of the moon's atmosphere. A retinue of 20 Malachites were also prepared, carrying only their carbines, Primers and water canisters. Even stripped to their fatigues, the men were heavily borne upon by the hellish gravity. I myself carried only my trusted Arbite-issue powermaul, laying aside the far heavier naval-blade I have borne since Loi. We hoped it would a short trip. Groaning under the strain, our Chimera rolled forth from the mouth of the transport ship and into the eerie, sand-swept crystal city. Thousands of years dead, the Yu'Vath left little behind. Uther has expressed curiosity as to their physical makeup, commenting that no habitation buildings were in evidence. I intoned the Catechism of Discipline against such idle thoughts, joined gladly by the Malchites. After several minutes of driving, a vox report crackled through that Augur relays had spotted an unusual structure ahead. A winding spire, basalt-grey and inlaid with green crystal, stretched into the skies above us. We steadied our resolve and press into the building, climbing atop the vehicle to reach the lowest openings in it's walls. From our first step outside the pressurized interior of the transport, the gravity is torturous. The lungs labor to process breath, sweat bursts from the pores and a harsh, continuous pressure presses on the bladder. We each struggle under the immense burden of our equipment. Within, maddening corridors with seemingly random turns and pointless chambers spiral towards the upper reaches. Finally we arrive at an open vault, dusty, echoing and host only to a single, slender plinth. Stirred by our passage, sand swirls steadily around our feet. Uther reaches out with a sensor-wand before taking up the room's blurry, half-seen prize. As the object resolves into a pistol in his hands, a scream splits the bated silence. One of our Malachites is been flensed of his skin, disintegrating in a storm of sand before our eyes! Clouds of micro-matter surge in torrential patterns about the chamber, limbs, claws and leering jaws forming to lash and snap at our soldiers. Several break and run, others shout in alarm but none hear my order to open fire over the cacophony. The cracking discharges of my powermaul discomfort and disrupt the swirling forms as I lay about the room, and sheets of glass form and shatter around the discharge of Uther's heat-pistol. We attempt to retreat, but our torturous progress is dogged by the unknowable creatures. I attempt to defend our rearguard, but the monsters seem to grow as they feed upon the recent dead. Immense, flensing wounds appear across my arms and torso, scarring and exposing my sub-dermal armour. We are forced to hurl ourselves onto the roof of the waiting transport to escape the surging sand-beast. In horror, I feel my shin-bones snap and splinter with the impact, the last ragged survivors falling to crack ribs and fracture limbs, but hanging desperately on as the vehicle guns it's engines towards the city outskirts. We hobble in through the access chutes, sending panicked messages to Zacharias. He is almost too late. Just as his Halo Lander scoops our APC smoothly up from the desert earth, an immense, roiling creature snaps it's jaws at our heels, before disintegrating back into lifeless sand.

After several hours in the infirmary quarantine, I finally regain consciousness. The Captain has forbidden the moon in the strongest terms, and we return to the matter at hand. I hear that coordinates for several new systems have been discovered in the bridge of the Mining Colony station, marking a possible path after the Pilgrims of Drusus and their Crusade-Era relics. We are towing the platform to Treadwater, where the Malacites will complete the job of clearing it. Once repurposed, it will be pressed to service in what will probably be our most profitable venture yet, mining for liquid gold. The holds of the Golden Bounty will empty, as the engineers, land-movers, demountable atmo-habs and laser-drills are deployed en-mass to supplement the effort. In their stead, centuries worth of refined gas-fuel cylinders will be stocked for sale on Footfall. Our final task, - replenishment of the casualties among the Malachites - has already been managed by now System-Governor Severus. With his blessing and the reconsecration of our battered hulls, the Lazarus and Golden Bounty turn Coreward for Footfall.

ENTRY 6

The grand old iron beast greets our arrival with the affectionate nudge of guidance beams and pilot drones. The port of Footfall embraces the Lazarus like a dearly-missed companion, it's shipyards yawning open to encompass our torn, weary hull. As the repair-droids begin to swarm - enacting diagnostic routines and support-structure analysis - the Council make their way aground. Zacharias brushes aside the Administry aide that awaits his arrival, handing the stack of approval and payment paperwork directly to Uther. He and I share a wry look before he hands it all to Ameline. We have bigger fish to fry.

Over several weeks, we see to the various needs of the fleet. An old acquaintance of Uther's - a degenerate criminal named Hallet - runs a wrecking yard on one of the Orbits of Footfall. He also runs guns under the table, but that is an open secret. From him, the Seneschal purchases the raw materials to repair the Lazarus. He also festoons himself with an ever-growing variety or weapons and gadgetry. With growing demands on the time and resources of the Office of Internal Security, my Wardens have been hard-pressed to maintain proper vigilance over the Captain. I have arranged to recruit a force of dedicated Praetorians to take up this role, and to equip them for the extremes of combat into which we often seem to stumble. 30 graduates of the Blackportal Paramilitary Academy have been outfitted with newly purchased ballistic-plate, high-charge lasrifles and respiration masks. I have also taken the opportunity to acquire 30 suits of Magistratum-surplus heavy-armour and Penetrator shotguns from the Academy armoury, to outfit the more veteran Wardens. These will comprise the senior ranks of the Security office, leading ventures into the underdecks to maintain order on the Council's behalf. The Captain himself has been in negotiations over several days with banking factors, merchant houses and -lately - the Adeptus Mechanicus. He had hoped to attract a further prospecting team to populate the facility on Bethany Secundas, but the Magi had their own ideas. Thankfully, elaborate feasts are not in their character, and we are spared the farce; an Explorator research team, replete with mobile labs, Skitarii security forces and prospecting APCs will accompany us back to the Slender Mass Conveyor. The Archeotech Cache there represents a sizeable bounty for the Ad Mech, who are less than pleased that House Quinn has already laid a legitimate claim upon it. They have kindly offered to purchase all the teams' discoveries from us, though I understand that the rate will not be altogether generous. They were also quite insistent that their offer be accepted. The Captain bristles over the affair, but the sale of the fuel-canisters to the Navy at least has yielded better than expected returns. With the profits, we have purchased a fine communication satellite array and Astropathic relay for the colony on Treadwater.

We are presently returned to Bethany, our passage through the warp overlong and troubling. Treadwater has exploded in population and productivity, the Silver Sovereign having remained in system to ferry workers and prospectors from the other population centres. In six months, the inner platform we salvaged has nearly doubled in size, in order to accommodate the booming workforce. Our tour of the facility is cut short when Ameline is forced to withdraw to the ship; it seems she suffers from claustrophobia, the density of the crowds and closeness of the walls too much for her. There is certainly a degree of … disarray inherent in this kind of gold-rush which I find discomfiting, but the Captain is immensely pleased with the raw output of the facility. Elder Archondakis is rewarded, and after launching the Satellite Array and installing the Astro-Point, we depart for Bethany Prime.

The fledgling administrative city of Bethany One has suffered in our absence, it's large and swelling population plagued by food shortages, skilled labor shortages and high unemployment. Though drawn by the promise of the shining city's technology, the settlement has quickly reached capacity. The population now bleeds back into the neo-feudal civilisations that surround it. Only the devout faith and charisma of the Lord-Governor has kept the city together. It is clear to us that without self-sufficient industries, Bethany One will collapse. After a tour of it's feeble farm-works, Uther pens a comprehensive report on the infrastructure and machinery the colony needs to become a productive agricultural power. I am concerned that this will make it a more tempting target for the indigents, and prescribe an increased military presence as well. In the event of any civil insurrection, I intend for the Enforcers to be capable of maintaining the peace.

Our final stop before the plunge. The military-run facility on Secundas is now fully furnished with the infrastructure it needs to conduct comprehensive scientific survey work and research. The Cache below the surface will furnish our needs for several trips yet, and the discoveries of the Ad Mech promise some profit as well. Master Caine broadcasts our farewell back into the system before we submerge and make Full-Warp spinward in the footsteps of Drusus' faithful.

The journey has been long, and the prize is not what we expected. A hostile Star, plagued by gravity-flux, sun-flares and radiation-waves is circled only by a warp-plagued, pirate infested planet. After a few hopeful hours of survey work, our alarms flare to life as the Lazarus is missile-locked. Zacharias hurls us into evasive manoeuvres as the screens light up with the face of a mutilated abomination of Chaos. The reaver, captain of the inbound assault-raider the Deific Scorn, identifies as a member of the Triumvate of the World Within, assaulting our ship with gratuitous images of desecration and torture. Several crew members vomit and screams of horror sound across the vessel before Kovenicus' can intervene. I interpose myself between the Captain and the creature, bellowing the Verse of Castigation Against the Heretic. It continues to taunt us, laughing as the torpedoes smash through our missile-baffles and detonate. The newly minted hull is blasted to hell, shuddering impacts setting lights to flicker and several critical systems to backup power. The Lazarus is cast into a terminal spiral, gouts of oxygen and smoke pouring from her scorched shell. The order to engage and fire-all goes out, as the shaken crew scramble to action-stations. The Reaver registers an expression of shock as the Lazarus stubbornly refuses to die, absorbing the punishing salvo and turning menacingly at bay. Our return-fire, delivered upside down, from below, through clouds of our own broken hull, took them utterly unprepared. Within mere minutes their vessel was ablaze and trailing, broadcasting entreaties to our mercy. We are to receive an emissary to negotiate the terms of their surrender.

I can scarcely countenance the blasphemous footsteps of this Reaver scum on the deck of the Lazarus. The full force of my Wardens, the Captain's Praetorians and the Magos' Lathe-Warriors are assembled against the possibility of foul play. To my disgust, the abomination blubbers and pleads. He offers to sue for the mercy of his brethren, sparing us the reciprocal fury of those yet dwelling within Warp-Cloud. I am deeply sceptical. He has no leverage and no entitlement to the protection of the Rules of War. He is lying. He is expelled from our presence and told to await his fate. The Council gathers around Zacharias' throne. I am unsettled at needing to give my even espouse my view; Chaos is the oldest and foulest enemy of mankind. This maggot-Captain has betrayed his humanity, forsaken the beloved Emperor and damned his own soul to a callous oblivion for the sake of the evil and transitory rewards of the Dark Pantheon. The Magos also urges him to strike, saying a once-wounded adversary will be wilier and more dangerous in a second encounter. Only Uther counsels staid hands, arguing that the Triumvate might be indebted to us, even one day harbor or shelter us, in gratitude for their lives. But Chaos does not understand generosity, it does not value compassion and it does not reward mercy. I am on the verge of losing my composure in the face of his cold, uncomprehending analysis; there are no 'degrees' of Chaos worship, no 'grey-area' in the question of daemon-reverence. These men are little more than rabid dogs, and it is our duty to put them down. With great relish, I relay the Captain's order to put the vessel to the flame, bombarding the helpless raider and leaving the accursed system in our wake. It has been named Fellholm.

The Council fears that we are being pursued by the Reaver's brother-ships. The psykers report a presence ghosting us in the Warp, a sense of scrutiny and imminent threat that dogs our progress homeward. We have located a stable route, avoiding return to Bethany lest we lead the pirates there. The ship cannot survive a further encounter, and would prove scant defence for the fledgling colonies. Worse still, we have been forced to take a circuitous route back to the repair-yards, avoiding a mess of reality-reefs and unexpected storms to reach the stable route. Over the many weeks submerged, the crew has grown fractious and malcontented. Uther reports that his spies have heard talk of mutiny, and disturbances blow up belowdecks when mild rationing is implemented. Gatherings of men are peaceably dispersed by the ship's clergy, but rumours of disappearances are spreading. The Bilges - a dark, tangled warren home to the worst of the ship's miscreants - have swelled their numbers in the weeks past, and fear pervades the neighbouring districts. Uther finally reports that mutants have been sighted among populations outside the bilges and I ask that he accompany me to counsel the Captain. I offer to assemble the Office of Internal Security's full punitive force against the mutant rabble, while Uther advises an increased clerical presence, targeted repairs and close and continuous scrutiny. The Captain assures me that if evidence of true sedition emerges, the Wardens will go to work. I acede to his wisdom. With luck, and the Emperor's blessing - and rather sooner than we planned - we will reach Footfall without further incident.

ENTRY 7
Reluctant to spend so many idle weeks at drydock, we arrange for the Bounty to make a supply run back to the Bethany system. With the Lazarus all but skeletal in the yards, the journey will need to be made without escort. The fluctuating size and productivity of our fledgling settlements have discomfited the Captain, who is now intent on consolidating the Dynasty's foothold there. After some debate, we entrust the task to Magos Kovenicus; though Captain Wuld is a worthy man, we are conscious of the risk of something befalling the ship in transit. Our fears -and our faith in Kovenicus - will prove well founded. The Bounty departs Footfall laden with mining and agricultural supplies, infrastructure to supplement the flagging economies of Bethany Prime.

The remainder of the Council has gone to work hunting out critical supplies for the Dynasty. Uther has been locked in negotiations for days, haggling back and forth with representatives of the Navis Nobilite. He leaves the black-marble tower each day looking worn and frustrated, his efforts to procure a purestrain Navigator of House Kel'Veri rejected again and again. The Nobilite Houses have been utterly outlandish in setting their price, though to my understanding this is quite common in situations of product monopoly. By reputation, House Kel'Veri Navigators possess rare and specific powers enabling them to cut Warp-Travel times by up to half. For this ability alone - nevermind the other tales of their prowess - the Captain has pledged to pay almost any price. Zacharias himself is recovering from a complex surgical procedure, an interface and cortical implant that will significantly increase his capabilities as Helmsman. As for myself, I grow concerned for the fate of the Bounty; they are already several days overdue, and my routine of drills with the Wardens and afternoons pursuing bounties in the Undercity has failed to distract me lately.

We were stirred from the Command Chamber by a desperate hail from the Bounty's Astropath; Wuld is dead, and the long and torturous journey back has been plagued by Daemon-mischief. Kovenicus forewarns that several components have been void-sealed and quarantined, and he asks for our aid in reclaiming the dark sections. He reports that he has done battle with foul, bloated creatures of unearthly resilience, only the devastating, clinical application of force put out by his Combat-Skitarri ending their rampage through the ship. We receive a hail from the Naval Frigate "Sirius", whose Vice-Admiral intended to blockade the returning vessel. I inform the grey-faced Captain that this is indeed standard procedure; it seems they have intercepted and decrypted our astropathic mail. As Zacharias goes to work talking down the reluctant Officer, I retreat to the docking bays to ready the attack teams to board our stricken sister-ship. My Office has emptied it's armoury. Both barges are at capacity with shotgun teams led by Wardens. The Captain and his Praetorians insist on taking part, accompanied by several teams of Naval Guardsmen delivered by pinnance. It seems we are not trusted to see properly to the cleansing of the vessel. I deliver my strategy via commlink to each team leader and the assault begins.

At first the fighting goes easy, our corridor tactics putting the foul, diseased crewmen to flight. Most are cut down mid-step, as their shuffling gaits encroach on the outer range of our scattershot. Reports reach me as we progress, of other components re-seized and systems safely re-powered. We meet up with Magos Kovenicus, his armour dented and dripping with the black life-blood of the Infected, his Skitarii lumbering forth in attack. Only the Bridge remains. At the last, we find a hulking, pestilent brood of malformed mutants, clearly the ringleaders of this incursion. They shriek and chitter as they charge, slamming into our ranks and hurling bodies about with joyous abandon. They disintegrate into foul sludge as their are slain, and their presence is accompanied by clouds of impossible, fist-sized flies. I lay about with my heat-blade, but their weeping, porous flesh surrenders little spark for the flames. The Council closes in, forced back to back by the press of melee. Finally, with the crack of Uther's pistol sounding over the volley-discharge of hellguns, the last of the monsters are cleansed. The Bounty has paid a heavy price in lives for their impurity. The Naval Guardsmen have been even less forgiving in their sections, leaving whole populations smouldering in the corridors. The Captain lodges a protest, but in truth I see that he accepts the grim tally as a fair cost. We commit the vessel to reconsecration and inspection by the Measure's priestly delegation.

Some weeks have now passed, and all is in readiness for our departure. Machinery for two whole colonies, fully self-sufficient and capable of significant industrial output, now fill the holds of the Bounty. The Lazarus is once again fighting fit, and our commissioned Malachites positively bristle to be back in battle. Master Navigator Kesh has been surly since learning of our contact with the Kel'Veri, complaining of our 'insult' in bringing aboard a member of that House to preform mapping rituals. He will simply have to cope; the value of a stable shipping route from Bethany to Footfall is simply too great to leave aside. We make sail. It is good to feel the thrum of the Warp-Drives thunder in my chest once more.

We pass through Bethany swiftly, greatly pleased at the pace and stability of it's recent growth. It has been near on two years since we settled here. The costs weigh heavily on the Captain, I know, but each of us feel that we have built something to be proud of. Once more into the Black though. We have departed Bethany in the footsteps of the Pilgrims again, drawn to a curious symbol drawn in the hand of the Drusine Fleet's Navigator. Our time Awarp has been long, yet little disturbed by trouble. The fractious public debates of journeys past have subsided in the face of the strong stance taken by my Office. I feel the mutinous rabble have been quelled for the time being.

A potbellied star of ill-omen awaits us here. The one lonely planet in it's outer-ring of this system is ripe with minerals and exotic stone, yet the system is aflame with sun-flares and radiation. Weird distortions plague the augurs, and deadly gravity shoals, clouds of asteroids and roiling temperature-pools threaten from every corner. The crew are greatly discomfited by the appearance of the solar body, and I recognise the old Void-Born fable that troubles them. Another god-forsaken wasteland-system after all our time, effort and expense. I begin to dread that we are cursed, a sentiment I hear repeated among the ratings before they are stamped out. It seems the Captain shares my concern, naming the system "Kurse" in a high temper. Tentatively, we attempt to brave the system's evident dangers, yet hoping to scrounge some worthy resource to offset our loss in coming here.

In the rad-shadow of the unnamed planet, our sensors ping unexpectedly; a strange craft encroaches upon us, and alerts are sounded across the ship. We are fired upon without warning, but the meaty discharge of solid macro-shells is only a distraction. A cloud of boarding pods, streaking like comets in the dark, rocket towards us bearing an evil payload. The Captain stands stoic at the helm, a bead of perspiration running hot from his newly implanted interface matrix. Holo-sigils swirl blindingly before him as he soundlessly manipulates the thrust, pitch and trajectory of the great, groaning vessel, hauling the Lazarus about to protect the lumbering Bounty. The pods scatter all about steely beast, put to flame by it's bristling megabolter auto-turrets. The survivors turn about in predatory circles, slithering through the barrage of our Macrocannons. For nearly an hour, the Bounty fends off the onslaught alone, the Lazarus brought to battle by a barbed attack-craft of unknown make. The wordless, unnerving exchange between the Captain and his Magos produces ruthless and efficient results, but I have always preferred the feeling of controls beneath my fingertips. Bearing upon my coordinates, the Magos unleashes a great column of fire, burning free from our cannons to scorch and tear the brittle flanks of the alien ship. Attempting to flee - but far too late - the alien ship breaks apart under the strain of it's own engines. It burns, fragments and finally disintegrates into a molten cloud of super-heated debris. I head down to the triage unit; along with the wounded, several of the alien's bullet-ridden corpses have arrived for scrutiny. Fresh news of bio-signatures on the planet has drawn the rest of the crew to the bridge. But I am curious.

My suspicions were right. Though the Rak'Gol were little more than a name to me in my Arbite days, rumors would often reach the Precinct Fleet of pitiless alien marauders raiding merchant vessels and bearing away corpses. I am glad to confirm a hateful face to match the name. One of their warrens awaits us on the world below, a tempting trove of stolen salvage, yet tainted with alien-stink and deadly radiation. We do not have sufficient hazard-suits to make a credible landing, and the Captain is already enraged at the creature's cowardly tactics, repulsive forms and the damage and loss he has suffered. It is a righteous and admirable fury. I lustily accede to his order to bombard the loathed hive with the shipboard batteries, burying the godless creatures in a bubbling avalanche of magmetic rubble and fire. The onslaught continues for several hours, an unrelenting cascade of heavy-yield megashells ripping the earth 'till only a rad-blasted craterfield remains. None survive. Uther protests at the loss of potential income, but we could not risk another Bethany III debacle. He is overruled. Before I can derive much satisfaction from the obliteration of the aliens though, he has begun to spin a new scheme. With the extermination of the xenos infestation, he argues that a quarry can be safely established on Kurse Prime, to exploit the rare purple marble we found there. We will hurriedly strip-mine the planet of resources and move on before the aliens can return or repopulate. I consider even this a foolhardy and unworthy course, putting resources and personnel at risk of corruption from xeno-taint. This time I am overruled, and preparations begin to have an array of mine-works dropped into atmo.

Emperor preserve us! I pray that I never again be subject to such horrors! The ship has been blasted half to hell, her glorious outer-shell eviscerated, her reactors fluttering, the substructure groaning, barely holding it's shape. The Lazarus breathes clouds of soundless, screaming bodies out into the void, in a long, draining, fiery exhalation. More than a third of the crew are dead. The deadly cold of Outside has clawed to the very doors of the Bridge, sucking the air from our lungs before the emergency bulkhead snapped down. Some fresh devilry of the sun was unleashed as we performed our picket, an immense pillar of fire, plasma and radiation reaching up in an arc toward us. It seemed torturously slow, but closed faster than we could possibly escape. The Star itself seemed to shrug, obliterating the surrounding terrain like the fitful, slumbering dragons of the old tales. I pray it never awakes. The stellar movement urged forth a devastating, inescapable rad-tide that closed on us inexorably as we attempted to flee. It was to no avail. We have no hope of replenishing our crew out here, and many weeks of painstaking repairs await us. Kovenicus has taken command of what men we have left, while the rest of the Council retreat to dig-facility below. Crisis-measures are in place, with security held tighter than ever before. There is scarcely a person aboard the frigate who has not lost a friend of family member in this catastrophe. Fewer still do not blame the Council for what happened. Though we never could have predicted this unexplained phenomenon, the ratings often think of their Officers as higher beings, somehow infallible. Certainly, we are imbibed with arcane knowledge of the universe and the ship's workings, the ability to unleash powerful forces, the right of command by birthright. Yet it is an immense test of faith for them to see the Dynast's inner circle so dreadfully and inexplicably wounded. Uther has arranged a safari for us, out into the skies of Kurse Primary. It is a hunt for the prized Cetaceath breed, the "Sky Whales" from which juvenat chemicals and compounds may be distilled. He hopes to distract us. Yet our thoughts are drawn ever to dwell ever on the fate of our company, that which at first was flush with hope and promise, now seeming every troubled by darkness and misfortune.

ENTRY 8

- return to port wander
- Kesh did awesome pilot, avoided around daemon ship.
- psychic dead zone, eerie spheres, good portend, tarot 12.
- fire blown out, strain from steering around a reality shoal. fixed
- several mutinies, vicious campaign of suppressing insurrection.

- footfall - i petition the captain for arbite precinct.
- receive ecclesiastical + sisters soritas. load up with ridiculous pilgrims.

- daemon ship waiting again, hellish bombardment.
- torpedoes full of bio-toxins, mutiny, 200 survivors.
- feast and belasco laspistols.

- Bethany, Kurze

- multiple system discoveries

ENTRY 9

FOR TOM:

  • Decide to explore Triumph Prime's Archeotech city
    • Flooded city that was then frozen
    • Giant city of chrome buildings with no visible breaks in chrome.
  • Break through one layer with a las cutter
    • Slow progress so we cut through a lower level (at the ice) instead
  • Bring engineers now to cut through the doors on an entire level. Find an elevator. Chris and Oliver rappel down, Feakes jumps and hovers. Tom returns to the top of the building to oversee operations.

-Oliver's Non-Official Report goes here

  • Mechanicus fleet arrives, Tom teleports back up to the ship
    • They negotiate for the system, on the condition they rescue the Captain. (Solomon is aware he would likely just be killed if he resisted).
  • Chris, Oliver and Feakes return (feakes has lost a leg). And we get bribed by the Mechanicus and forced to leave.
    • Chris gets pistol, Oliver gets brain upgrade, Feakes gets ?.
    • Feakes has lost a leg, Oliver heavily wounded, Chris thin and dishevelled.
  • Leave system, logs destroyed.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License