Nav Station Vox Log

Recorded via dictation to servo-savant 683 aboard the Ark, Navis-Tower Quarters 807.M41
- Navigator Superior Hades.

Session 1; Our return to Footfall has been delayed. The holder of the Arkaidos Warrant is summoned to a distant location. I pluck the coordinates from Sarvus' mind; the journey will take us 2 weeks off course. The Maw, as usual, is turbulent and uncooperative. Our arrival is awaited by Captain Keel of "the Righteous Hand"; I sense the Captain's discomfort at encountering a superior warship. We are invited to a banquet aboard his vessel, though have rather the sense of being a prisoner. I enjoy a sparkling beverage I have never encountered before. Keel displays little grace, condescending to the Captain and his retinue. The Captain jokes that he often forgets our names. It is a horrible thing to say, and I contemplate killing him. I decide against it though, knowing I will feel guilty later. I am sure the Captain was making an attempt at levity. The Captain is offered free access to the plunder of a system settled long ago by his ancestors, in exchange for his aid in finding a lost Imperial traveller. Based on my understanding of the matter, he was entitled to it whether Keel offered or not. Keel chooses to skulk at the system's edge. He seems embittered; perhaps he recognizes the growing statistical likelihood of his age-death.

Svard is a moon, as it turns out, made of ice. I find the surface to be quite beautiful, though Sarvus reminds me that long exposure can cause me harm in some fashion. Their ruler is a friendly man called a Speaker… probably because he talks as much as the Captain. These two disappear into a negotiation chamber while I go exploring. Most of the people I meet seem unhappy, though I have trouble distinguishing such expressions from fear. Arthis tells me I might inspire fear, so I try not to talk to anyone.

We leave on our 'cutter in search of conspiracists called "Whisperers." The colonists of Svard have suffered attacks as members of their own society convert spontaneously to this deviant philosophy. Our quarry pursued these Whisperers to the Asteroid of Silence, and we decide to investigate further. It is a silly name for the place, as at the very least the drone of the atmo-shield is a persistent annoyance. Finding little space to deploy our ground forces, we are forced to enter the facility alone. We break through a number of nonsensical security measures to unlock uninteresting rooms, each littered with corpses and non-fiction books. For a time I feel I have failed the Captain, as of everyone present, only I could contribute nothing. My powers were useless against our foes, and Sarvus' more developed psychic senses often revealed what mine could not. The final construct is the largest. Arthis and Reth deal impressive damage, though seeming unnerved by it's resemblance to humanity's ruler. I employ my powers, but the creature is immune. Once it is slain, we discuss the resurrection of the mining works on Svard, and how we will service this goal.

Session 2 The Captain is pleased with me today. He accedes to my plans for the salvage effort, deploying a portion of our archivist and missionary complement to evaluate the contents of the tower. I am quite polite to Confessor Marksis, but he seems to resent the effort. He tells me I have no right to tell him how to conduct his business, which is patently untrue. A trend I observe in all human interaction is that one with the ability to kill another invariably holds authority in that relationship. Arthis commands his troops as he is the most skilled killer among them. The Captain controls the crew, as he has come to command of a powerful warship. Keel commands us, as his warship is stronger still. I have observed no better demonstration of this trend than in human sexual pairing. But I digress. When I tell him as much, the Confessor displays quite the oddest expression, as though battling a sneeze. Arthis tells me it's fear again, though he takes my side in the debate. I hope we properly impressed on him the need to preserve the most valuable works, whatever their small divergences from mainstream religious dogma. The propensity of humans to place immense value in the most inane of objects will be of great use in this instance; a diary of a long-dead saint's daily doings will apparently attract quite a sum, though quite why in particular noone seems able to tell me. I speculate that they may record some common thread of divinity which several saints displayed; a path which others so inclined might follow to sainthoods of their own. The only prerequisite I have discovered is being dead, though my research is not extensive.

Leaving the excavation teams to their work, we proceed to the Psyker's Avery. It is without atmosphere or gravity, and we enter the station in void-suits. I always enjoy the sensation of weightlessness. There is some primordial comfort in it, womb-like I suppose, which the rest of the party little appreciate. Reth performs some manner of tech-witchery and gains entry to the Skyhook's command bunker. Within we encounter more possessed automatons, though to my joy they contain just enough dusty brain matter to give my powers affect. I even kill one with my hellpistol! Invigoration! Reth displays his expertise once more by reigniting the atmo and grav generators, but we find no trace of our quarry. Docking records suggest he visited, but did not remain. The Psykers are all decades dead. I suggest we repair one of Svaard's transport ships to tow the Skyhook into the system. I foresee that it will be useful as a waystation or fueling dock when the trade lanes are reopened. However the ships are beyond repair, and after our visit I resolve that the generators and atmo-regulators would be best put to work on the Ice Moon.

The Captain's translation of the records from Silence are completed as we return to Svaard. In a burst of enthusiasm, he reveals that his ancestor housed a captured Xenos Artifact within the system. The others seem surprised at his honesty, but I consider it a show of trust. I am glad I didn't kill him. We gleefully speculate on the nature of the device as we approach the system's main industrial site. The moon is heavily irradiated, and populated by strip-mining land-crawlers that are defunct with disuse. Our recon-flight is interrupted by the destruction of an accompanying Halo lander. The moon may have hidden defense-platforms. The Captain becomes distressed, but Reth and I convince him to press on. The lander's crew quickly succumb to the toxicity, and apparently, acidity of the atmosphere, somewhat vindicating my view that a rescue attempt would have been pointless. Reth interrupts the Captain's prayer recital by smashing our voxcomm; apparently such transmissions are easily traced. We locate one of the crawlers and make an insertion run, but are shortly fired upon by missiles and lascannons at the sump-level. Evading these unexpected attacks, we are dropped on a platform astride the treads, and gain access to the city by las-cutter. Our void-suits are dissolved by mere minutes of exposure, and we abandon them. Reth discerns an encrypted loop-message transmitted by the Admech forces on board; they are barricaded within their temple at the crawler's core, and the lower levels are overrun with Whisperers. We soon learn the truth of that, as we encounter an armed patrol. Arthis stages a masterful ambush, and the Captain himself engages the deviants. Reth captures one for interrogation; I rapturously slaughter the remainder, and feel at last that I am giving a good account of myself. My powers have wearied me though, and I hope we may rest soon. The Whisperer we capture proves interesting; the Captain observes that their only outward signs of corruption are featureless black eyes. He looks surreptitiously over at me; my three eyes a perfect mirror of the Whisperer's. After a few awkward heartbeats he goes about the examination, satisfied that I have not spontaneously defected. I am not concerned; all of my mutations accord quite comfortably with recorded Navis Nobilite trends.

I decide to recommend our last remaining naval trooper for a promotion, though the Captain insists that is Torque's prerogative. I hope I have not offended him with my transgression; he gave me a suit of armor today, to replace the one which turned into a snake. I like it immensely.

Session 3 The bridge is quiet now. Everyone is sleeping; as for me, I find I need less and less.

Our day began with our interrogation of the captured Whisperer. I suspect there is some link between the the purple energy constructs we have battled and the Whisperers. Both are automatons, retaining little of their intelligence once possession has begun. Possession, surely, yet there is no warp-stink on it. Most perplexing. Reth and Torque led the interrogation while I posed questions from dark corners. I knew it would be pointless. He had a hungry, endless maw where his brain should have been. I recorded this…

+static+ (Reth): Who ordered you to attack us? (Subject): The orders came. (Torque): He asked you- Crack!- who ordered you to attack us! (Subject): My hand! Crack! Ahhhh! the orders caaaaaame! (Torque): Answer the question! (Subject): Ooooooorders! Crack!+static+

It was mostly more of the same. Anyway, they cut off his head and we went to find the Mechanicus Sanctum. As we walked we speculated on the nature of the Cult we were facing. We ruled out any of the Ruinous Powers; if nothing else, a follower of Chaos will always remind you how feeble and mortal you are compared to his masters. They also tend to be more creatively mutated; the Whisperer mutation is uniform, stable. We arrived at the Oil Sump, which was more accurately an Oil Lake. As Reth reactivated it's workings, he engaged the noospheric link to the station's recalcitrant Arch Magos. It quickly becomes apparent that he has no interest in improving his lot. First he insisted on negotiating with us through the comm-link. What little I have learned of small-unit tactics informs me that turning your back to open enemy territory so you can engage in fruitless dialogue with an uncooperative machine demonstrates a lack of regard for personal wellbeing. The Captain tells me I am being paranoid. As I can conceive of no lesson in cognizant caution that will not result in his bodily mutilation, I lay the thought aside. We wait out several minutes of fruitless conversation. Finally, he agrees to meet in person, which we do, after a fashion. We conduct the remainder of our talks through a force-shield, staring down the barrel of heavy bolter turrets. He insists on harassing me with his robots to make sure I am uncorrupted. An utter waste of time; I insist that my mutations accord with precedent set by Navis records. Of course he has no such records, as he is an incompetent who allowed his station to be overrun by heretics, then neglected to do his duty for two thousand years. I remind him that a wealth of data of precisely that kinds is within his reach if only he would stop assing around and give us the resources we need to do our jobs - though I take my cue from the Captain and pin it in politer terms. He makes ludicrous suggestions from the sidelines as we plan the re-taking of Cog; I note with some suspicion that most of his ideas involve gratuitous damage to Dynasty property. Once he gives us the schematics we need, we ignore him. Blessed relief. The Captain petitions Keel for the support he promised in enforcing the Dynasty's claim to the system. At least I assume so; the message is exceedingly flowery, and functionally indecipherable. I refer to the Arch Militant's summary;

++Attention Keel.

Arkaidos requests support for assault on Mining Facility, designated Cog, at 42,55 - 34,78/ 200hrs planetside.
Designate 2 Flights of Imperial Lightnings, escort and suppression runs (likely enemy fighter presence light); 1500 troops for deployment at main Lifter platform, Target is Primary Life support systems (see attached schematics for locations). Automated defenses will clear your path. Arkaidos and specialist unit are the insertion team, acquire escort's at points designated on schematics. Expect mid-to-low level anti-air resistance en route, and large scale civilian resistance within.

Commander's note; biosphere extremely acidic. Exposure lethal, deploy void suits where likely.
Commander's note; all personell will require rebreathers during the retreat.
Commander's note; the facility is highly valuable: Flamers, Shotguns, SP armaments only are requested.

please respond promptly,
Arkaidos

Alas, it seems the system is awash with Imperial citizens incapable of doing their duty. Apparently a hive full of traitors to the Imperium is not worthy enough a target for the Imperial Navy; Keel condescends to provide the fighter escort only. The Ark and the militia of Svaard provide the rest. The plan is successful, and we breach the engine room. I contribute by breaking holes in the enemy defenses; by my estimate, I slay somewhere in the area of 90 Whisperers. I believe I may even have edged out Reth! I notice him hesitate for a moment before shutting down the life support. I must remember to ask him why. As we retreat, the first of the thirty thousand inhabitants begin to suffocate. The Captain estimates it will take up to a week for them all to die. Since we have some time to spare, I suggest exploring the gas giant in search of useful resources. For the first time I employ my Eye in the operation of the auger, and to my pleasure, discover a refinery within the planet's mass. As we withdraw to deploy landing craft, we are brought to battle by 4 Xenos vessels of raider-equivalent size and armament. The Captain is enraged that he cannot categorize them, despite being the Sector's premier expert. We engage in a furious battle, during which I am deeply impressed by the skills of my comrades. Torque bolts up and down the bridge, bellowing target solutions and directing the Lance fire. The Captain walks among the men, inspiring them to greater efforts with his assured demeanor, effortlessly directing the helm as he walked. Reth plugs directly into the Genetorium, allowing his consciousness to flit about the ship, instantly responding to damage reports. For my part, I commit a focused augury on our enemies, but confirming my suspicions, receive only a very clear image of unidentifiable mass. Thereafter I scry to predict the enemy movements. I contribute to the destruction of one of the ships! My kill tally swells.

The others have collapsed in exhaustion - Reth has gone back to his workshop to tinker with his Mechadendrite. I like the bridge most when it is quiet like this. Even the ecstatic violence of battle cannot compare to this serenity; just me, my cosy Nav-Station, and the gentle notes of choking death that lilt from the station below.

Session 4 Developments aplenty today! I believe the seizure of the system complete. We have withdrawn from the debris field left by our fierce battle with the Whisperer's forces; we reward ourselves with a moment of rest. As before, the Splinter-ships are worse than worthless salvage, but to my great satisfaction we have secured a transport ship to furnish my plans for established trade. Keel is making for the system's edge with his brother in tow…his brother the envoy, his brother the Whisperer! But I am getting ahead of myself.

After our operations to clear Cog and the surrounding airspace, we took the opportunity to investigate the asteroids thrown up by the gas giant. Fragments of the giant's former surface, the asteroids were peppered with empty structures and dim energy-returns. I suggested that we pick one of the larger facilities and make entry with our assault craft, which Torque found immensely funny for some reason. I have decided against further inquiry. Employing armored voidsuits and an armed retinue, we plas-cut an entry into the central bunker. Reth remains aboard to affect his repairs, but sends his faithful servo skull to aid our pursuit. The station is in a poor state but remains functional. We discover life-support, grav and light faculties undamaged, but the deserted streets give no clue as to the station's purpose. The Captain loses interest and suggests returning to the ship. I suspect he is distracted by his hunt for the Artifact; he is ever the Scholar and rarely the industrialist. I am equally disappointed by the artifact's reticence, having hoped to integrate it into my analysis for Tiberius. But for now I must be satisfied with these simple facilities, and strongly advocate pushing towards a command centre. It proves a fruitful decision (though conforming to trend, provocative of violence). We near the central hub, but are surprised as a wave of Whisperers pour out of the structure. The Captain lines the men up across the street, minding me of the Acreagian powder-generals' neo-feudal tactics. I decide to withdraw to a defensible position. Happily, our attackers are quite malnourished and few in number. Against my expectations we take no casualties, though we suffer harassment as we press on to our goal. The Whisperers once again prove their mindlessness, utilizing firebombs in a low-oxygen environment; they have little effect. The central cogitator reveals that this facility and it's fellows stored and analyzed the raw output of Cog's trawler. I am pleased, and begin factoring them into my next report. We return to the Ark.

Our final hurdle is the promethium refinery; we debate long hours on the best course for ensuring it's capture. Our preference is to repeat our plan from Cog, boarding first by stealth to perform reconnaissance. It soon becomes obvious that doing so is impossible, largely due to the size and preparedness of the refinery. The Captain become increasingly disposed towards a show of force and assault, with Torque advocating the outright bombardment of the facility. Based on their analysis, I conclude that we must assault the station, but that it cannot be achieved without Keel's assistance. We must secure the Envoy first, to ensure his cooperation. I advocate a diplomatic communication; a demand that the station turn over the envoy under pain of destruction by two mighty warships. I have noted that the Whisperers show little aggression unless provoked by an intrusion into their territory, and I hope that they will cooperate to avoid conflict. This is the plan we ultimately employ, though I must appease Torque with the promise that an assault will follow once the Envoy is in hand. We open communications, and revelations follow. The negotiator is a Whisperer, THE Whisperer in fact, though it speaks in the manner of a daemon through a host. He is also the Envoy for whom we searched, and coincidentally also Keel's biological brother! Torque postulates that the Whisperer may be the elusive Arkaidos artifact, and so pleasing is this symmetry, I earnestly hope he is right. Sarvus informs us that certain daemons are capable of reaching through protective fields, if only with their baleful influence. Particularly, as I suspect may be the case, where they are trapped by inferior xenos imitations of gellar fields. Somewhere on that station, we will likely find such a thing. Negotiations are suddenly cut off as the facility opens fire, and several enemy ships emerge from the gas cloud. 4 more of the Shard-vessels and three Sledge-Pattern transports engage us. The Captain takes the helm, and weaves us through the field of fire as Torque unloads all guns upon the enemy. Keel moves to an assault position, scattering the raiders as he roars forth. In one glorious moment, battlefield is washed by saintly light as the righteous Hand and most meritorious Ark simultaneously unleash every Las and Lance at their commands. It was a positively religious experience. Later I cringe, as I see two of the transports I had been joyously factoring into my projections, consumed by the furious light. I desperately entreat Tiberius to petition the Captain; the final ship must remain intact. Thankfully through his battle-passion he sees reason, and we begin a vast boarding effort of the listing carrier. We are caught by surprise as one of the dead vessels lurches back to life, combining fire with the remaining raiders to hammer upon our flickering shields. The Captain leads a hit-and-run attack on the vessel but is cast back, the mindless Whisperer's employing suicide bombers to repel him. Torque later leads several similar efforts, but the Whisperers have no fear of death. The crew of the Ark stampede aboard the carrier and slaughter the Whisperers to the last puppet. Once we break free, we pick up the Captain's stricken craft and turn toward the station. Keel has been busy; leaving us to deal with the enemy vessels, he had boarded the refinery with equal success. Capturing his brother's husk, he bids us a brisk farewell, and turns to break orbit. The station is ours, and I relish the prospect of going aboard for inspection. There are [alarms sounding] … the [general alert sounds] …*sigh* - I'll have to finish this account later; there's some kind of commotion in the auger bays.

Session 5 By the multitudinous Saints of Humanity, I pray I will never face such a horror again. The artifact to which Leo's ancestor so cheerfully alluded was in truth a primordial god-construct the size of a cruiser. Our shields were scant defense against the nightmarish array of lightning cannons and torpedo-shards it turned on us; I held no doubt that this was the fight of our very lives. Keel showed his true colors at last, abandoning us in our most desperate hour of need; the Captain's face became demure and grey as the Hand of Redemption broke system-lock. His reverence of the man was misguided. Though I said it often, vindication gives me no joy. Once I characterized our battles in space as akin to a dance, graceful Raiders circumducting our stately Ark. The battle with the Whisper-Hulk had none of that Art; we unleashed our every weapon, often at point plank range, tearing at each other with the rage and desperation of mindless beasts. The creature was better protected than any Imperial vessel I've yet encountered, and possessed of an armament to shame a small fleet. I believe it is only by uncommon viciousness, and the Arch-Militant's particular gift for dealing destruction that we yet ply the stars. The Ark is as sturdy a vessel as exists in the Expanse, but the fat has well and truly been cut from her body. Her hull is in tatters, the crew is diminished; as we limped from the cloud, as much of the Ark littered the field as remained of the enemy. We traded fire for endless hours, and were driven to exhaustion, yet in a single moment of divine inspiration, tore the crackling heart from the Hulk and claimed the field. The Beast had turned at bay, infuriated by our steady stream of ordnance; it pulsated with inglorious effort as it began seizing the minds of our crew from beneath us. Hard-plugged to the auger in a furious search for a weakness, the Captain fell victim to it's powers. Likewise noble Reth, whose mind wandered the Ark's noospheric paths, was vulnerable to the onslaught. I stood alone at the helm by their slumping forms, Torque thrashing nearby in the Cannonade-Dock and Tiberius far below, bellowing orders at the loading crew. For a few short moments, the Ark was without command. I had no choice but to take the bridge. In an electrifying moment, this radiant vessel swayed to my command, turning her angelic form to my tune. The helmsman saw me alone at the pulpit, and called for orders;

"Hard about starboard, around their next volley. Once the ordnance passes, bring us to Full Forward and volley from broadside. Torque?"

"I need those Lances up! Where are my god-damned Lances?"

"We'll take the rest on the shields, the loaders need more time. Get Dorian down to the Dampener-Bay, they're in for trouble."

"Hades, what in His name are you doing!? Where's the Captain!?"

"Indisposed. I am dealing with your overheat Torque, you'll have guns in 5."

"Hades I really think - Oh you meant 5 seconds! Targeting 365-99er-99er by 22-44, loose all, repeat loose all!"

"That's a nice angle helm, can we maintain that?"

"Aye-Aye …er…sir."

"All hands, this is Command, brace for impact."

BOOOOOOM!

"Primary voids down sir, secondary cycling"

"Tilt to 70, half-speed astern. Hold that."

"Enemy's loosed! I want trajectories!"

"Coming to your overlay now Torque. They ought to pass afore us."

"Ha! We'll have cooled by the time he comes around! Where did you learn to fly like this?"

"Actually we've merely reproduced a maneuver the Captain employed in 811.M41 against the Tikritos Military."

"Do you actually have any idea what you're doing?"

"Not at all. But the Captain does. We'll put our trust in his foregoing behavior until he wakes up."

"Right. Shouldn't we call a medicae?"

"Oh! Of course! Tepet, can you get me Ellis on the vox?"

I had command for nearly 3 hours, the sensation of which I cannot describe. I hose the mutinous crew with hate-fueled vitriol, empassioned by the dizzying heights of experience. My snarling pict image is pressed to the depths of the vessel; I snap teetering loyalists back into formation and scatter betrayers before me. I begin to understand the Captain, who has been attributed with intolerable swagger; what man could not be intoxicated as megatonnes and multitudinous pin-prick lives turn at his fingertips? I feel quite separated from my body, at one with the hull, it's human lifeblood, the beating genetorum. The sheer scale of it makes me profoundly emotional. I break down hysterically when Leo is awakens, either cackling with relief or sobbing at the loss of sensation - I cannot properly remember which. In our moment of despair, as we leaked gas and souls into the void, unable to pierce the abominable flesh, a divine harmony of need and circumstance descended. Leo was enraged at the damage to his vessel, coaxing the gunners to new extremes of stamina, Tiberius marching at his side. Reth creates a symphony of euphonic machine spirits, cogs and pistons heaving with the urgent vitality of his inspiration. I have brewed a perfect storm of psychic turmoil, casting the Hulk's coldly logical movements into a simple, predicable pattern. I see the thing's movements before they occur; I whisper them into the Militant's ear. Torque is an elemental force, unleashing a torrent of light as to a vengeful god. The Beast has thrown it's bulk against us; it is too close to escape. It shatters into a billion shards, shredding apart and burning out Warp-fueled engines in a noxious cloud. It is defeated. The salvage has begun. I am too tired to recount the details, but we are making ready for return to Port Wander. Tiberius will be waiting on my next report…but first, I must rest. Tomorrow, there will be Eye-work for doing.

Session 6 I have now spent several months aboard the Blood Diamond, re-fitted and re-christened for service in the Arkaidos family flotilla. Anxious for the safety of his new investment, the Captain bade me escort it's shipment of supplies and sundry back to the Svaard system. I am pleased to find it in good order, and more particularly that Tiberius has given effect to my suggestions. Svaard now boasts a way-station at system's edge, a refurbished settlement on Primus Moon, and very soon, a functioning Miner-Trawler on Cog. I have pointedly avoided contact with Arch-Magos Killaware, and may soon arrange for him to suffer a timely accident; it seems he has rather lorded it over the other serfs in our absence, and needs reminding of his place. At any rate, the ore and promethium trades are firmly established, and I look forward to returning to Port Wander. With the exception of one altercation between a Preacher and an unruly exhibitionist from the bilges, little can be said to have given this journey color. The clearing of Cog and the refinery were smoothly completed under the Speaker's direction. Svaard will thrive, I have no doubt, furnished as it now is with a full complement of workers, facilities, working sub-system shuttles, and vuclanised rubber worksuits for use on Cog. I spend much of my time on the Prima I drafted, and I am near to completion. When distracted, I sift through the xenos junk the crew have collected; I mean to find something of interest for Leo before I leave. That ought to be soon.

As the Ark languishes in dry-dock, I had expected my Council-mates to become creatures of leisure. Far be it for such a group to conform to my expectations, they have against all odds managed to find, and engage in adventures. I received a missive from Sarvus detailing their latest affair, which I hereby commit to archive.

To my friend Hades,

I was pleased to receive your latest correspondence, and in answer to your query, a rubber duck has no actual application, it is merely an object of amusement for some children. I cannot speculate as to why your Ship's Mechanic would have one.

We have not been idle in your absence, and I myself have made considerable inroads into the formation of the Pyskanna Order which we discussed. As per your suggestion, the Astral Knives faction have proven helpful, though I may say you somewhat understated their temperamental character. Reth has little ingratiated himself to the powers that be within his order, muscling his way into several cult ceremonies and (apparently) inventing ancillary roles for himself in a number of rituals. The Captain and Arch Militant occupy themselves with the training and indoctrination of the crew; by last count we have increased the number of combat ready crew to 6 thousand, which pleases Torque no end.

We had a curious distraction recently, on which I invite your opinion. The Captain received an unexpected invitation from his favored niece (the estranged daughter of his eldest brother Vorhan), pertaining to her successful dealing with a long-abandoned investment of his father's. As I understand, some shared venture with Captain Clarabell's went south years ago, but some trick of the contract had wrangled Victus some mystery product. Scenting a profit, the crew dressed their best and travelled by sky-yacht to the Tolling Bell. It's development was something of a coup for it's backer Victor Bell, a renowned Beast-Trader; the very decor borders on outright heresy, yet the place has fast become the sectors most renowned luxury restaurant. Unfortunately our host did not arrive, and the night degenerated into a debaucherous series events of which I have been ordered not to speak. We investigated Claire Arkaidos' absence, traveling to her offices after a morning of slow recovery. I must commend the view over the Sky-dome to you Hades; in the light of sunrise over the planet above, the asteroid cloud was cast with the fire-lit glow of molten glass, every spire in the city that stretched before us glittering like a shard of Annulian crystal. The others were distracted by the food riots below, which have been spreading through the station after a poor harvest season.

At any rate, we found Claire's habit empty. He effects were undisturbed (at least until the Captain began going through her sanitary waste), and I had rather lost interest until I caught a powerful psychic residue of horror, pain and grief. Before long we uncovered a cache of unrefined narcotic material and evidence of it's ongoing use. Following a fragmented mind-scent, we found ourselves beneath the skydome in an artificial autumn, the recreational park aflow with blood-colored leaves. We questioned the local penitents who were garbed in animal masks of iron, and to our great shock, were set upon! Their leader was possessed of a shrouded soul, yet when revealed it proved the most gnarled and ugly thing I have ever witnessed. His flock were nothing more than frenzied drug-addicts, sense-deadened by their masks until the moment of attack. We butchered several of the unfortunates and their leader escaped, but we did discover the fate of poor Claire. Clara's stock of drugs were of little interest to her grandfather's dynasty, so she took the chance to prove herself by turning them into a profit. She did well, for the drugs were highly addictive, as was discovered by her foolish and malcontented fiance. By the time Claire discovered his addiction, he had slipped into madness; in his rage and despair he murdered her. The narcotic effect apparently gives way to a desperate and unquenchable thirst, inevitably leading to murder and cannibalism. He had buried Claire beneath our feet, and succumbed to the enslavement of the strange and horrible soul we battled. He was the last of the animal-headed assailants to die, in the bowels of the Ark's cell block. My thoughts linger on it's master-creature however, and I am increasingly convinced he was not fully human. He is a problem for Port Wander's authorities now I suppose, for the Ark is nearing operational status. I expect you will arrive within the week, and look forward to your thoughts on the nature of this villain. Quite apart from that though, the stain of it's madness sits like an oil slick on the surface of my mind, and I long for the balm of open, empty space.

Restlessly awaiting your return,

Your Friend,
Sarvus

Sessions 7, 8, 9 It must be admitted that service to the Arkaidos Dynasty rarely occasions anything but the commission of violence. Not so our latest endeavour, in which nary a shot has been fired (excepting the unfortunate final resolution of the Shaper's dispute with the Scullery staff). Upon my return to Port Wander, the heartwarming sight of a re-fitted Ark awaited me; the Cadre convened quickly on the bridge, re-united in our command duties as the vessel was launched. The Captain had already selected our next port of call; a distant and recondite planet known as Tennenberg. A power-play by one faction in a political deadlock has presented us with a lucrative opportunity; we will support the ambitions of a House Theot and elicit favorable terms of trade in return. The planet is of considerable size and mineral wealth - my newfound expertise in mining ventures will be put into play once more! We will dissolve the heretical democratic regime and install a properly Imperial structure of governance.

As ever, my powers saw us safely to our destination, though truth be told we arrived with rather more inertia than I intended. I doubt the others noticed. The Captain decided to announce our presence with a touch more vigor that might have been advisable, confidence buoyed by our recent successes. We were quickly and respectfully seen to by Lord Tennenberg of House Theot, aspirant to the position of Lord Governor. Though his House seemed the weakest of the deadlocked regimes, his offer of trade exclusivity (excepting the tithe quota) quickly cemented our (perhaps rather mercenary) loyalty. His Seneschal, Salazaar, has acted as a useful intermediary during our venture here. He’s perhaps the one cooperative individual on this mud-ball, though I’ll speak to that a little later. We learned that Houses Valkena and Hilde were monetarily and militarily superior, and opened communications under the guise of trade negotiations. In point of fact, had the Captain been presented with more favorable terms, I have no doubt he would have adjusted his allegiance accordingly. House Valekena hosted the Cadre for a blood-sport display, which I believe is a common alternative to worship on lesser civilized worlds. Their beast-master expressed some interest in trading for exotic Xeno specimens, though this line of inquiry stalled as we ran afoul of our bad-tempered Shaper. The need to present strong Xenos combat-stock for trade could scarcely be balanced against his delicate sensibilities; I realise that I had unconsciously held my breath for much of the exchange. Though our efforts to ingratiate ourselves bore little success, we did overhear that Hilde’s military is struggling to contain a guerrilla threat to their fledgling rail-system. Our wily Captain may have scented a further advantage; though it was well concealed, Valkena displayed wariness of Imperial scrutiny. Leo thinks it likely that some part of their immense revenue stream springs from illicit sources.

We set about undermining the two major houses, first by attempting to contact these raiders. Approaching Hilde, ostensibly to offer aid, we formulated a plan to ambush the bandits as they attacked the next convoy. We hoped to simultaneously gain favour with Lord Hilde and capture a member of the guerrilla fighters for interrogation; ultimately we planned to supplement their efforts in cooperation with tribe leaders. Upon meeting Hilde I quickly diagnosed paranoid megalomania, though he would not show his true colours until our subsequent encounter. Purchasing a number of blood-sport tickets, we sent off a contingent of ratings for shore leave. Ten of them went with instructions to surreptitiously spread rumour of a particularly valuable shipment of Arkaidos product heading out into Hilde holdings. We set about organizing the military effort, including a train loaded with household troops and several Halo-Assault Barges. Unfortunately, Luther of House Valkena (something of a blunt instrument), apparently stumbled across our plan and ordered the arrest of every offworlder he could lay hands on In a startling show of poor judgement, he ritually sacrificed our loyal ratings to his blasphemous pets, sending us a graphic vid-account of their torture and death. It has become apparent that he also broadcast their this footage to his territories, raising serious questions as to the purity of his constituents. I begin to think that House Valkena is destined for rather a messy end, as does tend to be the case when a Patriarch thinks himself so terribly clever. The Captain issued no reply, and to my surprise, didn't make a single joke. I have learned to expect pyrotechnic displays of vengeance when this is the case. Frankly I look forward to participating. We abandoned our planned ambush (as Valkena had certainly betrayed us to the rebels), and I turned my efforts to scrying for their presence in the desert. To my excitement I was duly rewarded, pinpointing a number of powerful psychic signatures indicative of warp-manipulation. The raiders, or more properly, the Chaos-worshipping barbarians, were employing ritual circles to aggravate the weather on a large scale. I consulted with the Sarvus and the Captain before resolving to inform the major Houses of this grave threat. We could no longer consider supplementing the rebels’ efforts as we had planned; instead we hoped to provoke a panicked military response that would weaken them significantly. Hilde however, proved even slower of wit than I suspected, needing to hear our words repeated several times, and from different sources before he comprehended them. Another idiot unfit for rule –indeed ‘unfit’ is the word, as he seemed exhausted by the mere act of standing and talking simultaneously. Perhaps he has some kind of blood-pressure issue. When he ordered us to leave most of the Cadre issued some veiled form of threat. Torque’s was my favourite as he mimed shooting the buffoon in the head – I must admit, it had crossed my mind. Hilde called a summit to discuss the matter; as the three Lords resolved to summon a Black Ship to solve the problem, we turned our attention to the Adeptus factions present on this world. The Magos Urien has promised his support for House Theot, though we had to pledge the retrieval of some artefact he fancied in exchange for it. To his credit, he suggested a means to secure the Warrant of Manufacture from House Valkena who had been making a play for it. With such a thing in the hands of his supporters, Theot sits that much closer to the Governorship (though we have taken on a large expense to secure it). We also dealt with Cardinal Tenneberg, who was facing significant problems within his church. A rogue Preacher and restless Confessors were undercutting his rather fundamentalist dogma; at my suggestion the Ark exchanged a large contingent of it’s religious staff with the Cardinal’s troublemakers; the pace aboard a star-craft ought to satisfy them better. Therein we received a new Senior Confessor, and I daresay one rather more suited to the task than the outgoing Marksis. His demure personality, and the rape allegations that constantly dogged him, will not be missed. In his place we have a theological progressive, who should prove an interesting shipmate. Sarvus disagrees, preferring to attend another round of blood-sports than meet him. I heard that he made an attempt to assassinate Lord Valkena, certainly is no less than the man deserves. Unfortunately his target was possessed of a teleporter, forcing him to abort his efforts. A shame.

Aside from occasionally advising the Captain via mind-link, I have found little to entertain me on this planet. Politics has it’s rewards, yet I struggle to understand the appeal; like regicide, it is characterised by predictability, frustration and a terribly dull pace. Although we have spent considerable time and effort on this endeavor, I feel that we have frustratingly little to show for it, each faction utterly recalcitrant to shift it's position in this quagmire. While I accompanied the Cadre to most of the functions we have attended, I find myself increasingly distracted with the development of my own powers. I lately learned to somehow ‘push myself’ into alternative positions in time and space, an ability I have yet to reveal to my compatriots. I feel it will be more useful the fewer people know of it. I stumbled across a night warden one evening while testing the limits of this ability; once he stopped screaming he described the phenomenon by which I ‘melted into existence, as though made of dark smoke’. It sounded gratifyingly theatrical. As my capacities develop, I feel that I am approaching a level of invulnerability; at some primordial level, I am compelled to press on in the pursuit of peak combat effectiveness, though I can little explain the source of this desire. The memories of my life before stasis have not returned, and I begin to fear that they never will. I am increasingly convinced the instincts and idiosyncrasies I display are attributable to some residual psychic programming, trends from my former life. My suspicion, which has resolved of late, is that I was some form of experimental weapon. Once again I spare the Cadre any worry, for I have resolved to assuage these compulsions insofar as they do not conflict with my conscience; the sense of satisfaction derive from my burgeoning combat prowess is of quite sumptuous vintage. We depart on our search for Magos Urien’s Hourglass tomorrow, a race against the arrival of the Ordos’ Black Ships. Hopefully matters will have proceeded favourably in our absence; I feel a growing impulse to scour these insipid nobles from Tenneberg’s face, which might pose an obstacle to the Captain’s efforts.

Session 10

- Subject; Hades Vulcanov, Age Unknown. Attending Physician -Dr Ellis Tepet.

Serious rending wounds to the torso; lacerated stomach, intestines, kidney, six broken ribs, split lung, severed vocal chords. Needless to say, subject's resilience far exceeds human norm. Assign priority status; Full physical recovery one week, Psychological recovery -based on preliminary analysis- 1-2 hours.

- handwritten note found attached to the foregoing medical file.

- Left Tennenberg. Returned to Footfall, journey very swift. Combed gossip houses for word of Thuleans. Purchased stolen logbook of their journey. Departed in their footsteps. Encountered Minor God, suffered daemonic infestation. Cleansed lower decks. Arrived at unmarked system - 2 planetoids, one gas giant, large yellow sun. Detected space-station, strange psychic signals. Ambushed by small Ork fleet - two frigates, 2 raiders. First Barrage cripples foremost frigate, one raider flees, other ships ram, lock and board. 6 hour battle in corridors, Cadre repels at least a dozen assaults. I pierce the psychic veil of the Weirdboyz and locate their Kaptin. Only Leo and I reach the bridge. I kill Kaptins retinue, wound Kaptin. Creature so naturally stupid, boiling it's brain matter has little effect. Leo hits it with Plasma. The creature comes on, chops the Captain's leg off at the hip. He passes out. I open my eye fully. All remaining Orks and humans in the room are immolated, yet the Kaptin still comes. Nerve tissue is leaking from is ears, it's eyes have been burst. I escape it's axe in shadow-form, yet quickly tire. I scald it's brain once again, but cannot prevail. It rakes my guts across the decking, and I must surely die. Yet I awaken in the medical bay. Arthis and Leo both insist they struck the final blow. I suspect there is some joke in play, which escapes my comprehension. The Captain's ability to speak is sadly unimpaired. He natters ceaselessly from the next sickbed. I look forward to the attachment of his new leg, and the quiet that will follow. Having seen the state of the bionic they intend to employ however, it may be some time before he makes it out of earshot.

Session 11

My insights into the behavioral trends of the Tennenberg natives swell. I comprehend, at last, the deep insecurities which drive them to stagnation. With no unifying body to command them, the regrettable fragmentation into a degenerative standoff was inevitable. It is my recommendation that any settlement effort borne by the Arkaidos dynasty in the future, be furnished with a strong, preferably military governorship. It seems the only method of entrenching a stable societal structure. And stable Tennenberg shall be, despite the best efforts of our enemies. We were accompanied on our victorious return to Footfall by the latest addition to the Dynastic fleet; A looted Raider-class which remembers the name True Thought, is the prize wrested from the hated Orks. Doubtless they who left us so bloodied, would be distressed to learn that they also left us considerably richer. The refit and re-population of this vessel will be overseen by the capable Explorator Gardios, though we anticipate great expense and delay so far out in the Expanse.

I am pleased to record our successful recovery of Thule's Hourglass, though the process was more costly and difficult than we anticipated. The station defended by Free Kaptin Cuntsmasher was still overrun by Orks following our battle in space. All around the Ark, the wrecks of his fleet were burning up atmosphere, and time was slipping steadily away. As the Captain and I underwent remedial surgery, Arthis commanded a productive cleanse-and -salvage effort of the True Thought, and began projections for an assault on the station. Upon his recovery, the Captain resumed command, and opened a channel to parley with the surviving barbarians. Offering unimpeded passage to the remaining junk-frigate, he negotiated a (relatively) bloodless evacuation with the surviving Ork leader. I counseled against this course of action, once I comprehended it, reminding the Captain that the Ork is one of very few species declared Xenos Horribilis; given our frequent dealings with rather dogmatic Imperials, I felt it was inadvisable. He happily assumed this risk, though his rationale was unclear. I cannot begrudge the decision however, as the mission, by and large, was lucrative. We staged a large assault on the remaining Orks as the Mekboy and his few supporters fled for Undred-Undred-Teef, tracked by Arthis' watchful guns. Quickly cleansed, the station surrendered it's bounty in the form of a stasis box containing an arcane timepiece. The security measures were exhaustive, requiring the services of our mining crew and a good deal of creativity to overcome. The Captain finally wrested the item from a degenerative energy field, using the severed limb of an Ork foe; for once, the comedic aspect so appreciated by the crewmen was also clear to me.

Our return to Tenneberg was uncommonly swift, for the Hourglass substantially aids Warp Navigation. I am loath to surrender it, despite it's cruciality to our plans. We were unable to fully repopulate the Ark, nor affect satisfactory repairs, though the ordinary running of the ship is unimpeded. Just as well, for a singularly unpleasant surprise awaited us upon system-break. Mortimer Arkaidos of the Wild Card has been active in our absence, substantially undermining our endeavors on the planet. Leo made a terse and scornful exchange, which I confess to finding appropriate; given forgoing trend and Mortimer's surprising rudeness, I am shocked at his relative equilibrium. Mortimer has no legal claim on the Warrant while Vorhan survives, so I see no recourse in the law for his ambitions. Indeed I urged Leo to slaughter him immediately, for he can pose nothing but problems to the smooth resolution of our venture. Arthis concurred, with some passion. Nevertheless, we spared the Wild Card our ministrations, and pressed on to the planet to play at politics. Hilde has amassed a sizable force in our absence, conspiring with Leo's sorcerous sibling to silence the psyker threat to his resources. It is our suspicion that Mortimer is harvesting chaos witches for his own nefarious purposes, a viperous alliance that threatens the ascendancy of our affiliates. We quickly set about counter-scheming; Magos Urien received us with enthusiasm, and shortly fell to the distraction of our arcane gift. His Seneschal confirmed on his behalf, that the Warrant of Manufacture would be passed to our allies in House Solut. The Mechanicus may be considered our friend in all things forthwith, and with the reported success of the Religious Festival we sponsored, the primary Adeptus presences on Tennenberg are now aligned with our interests. Seeking to capitalize on this momentum, we approached House Kreva, primary food manufacturers and rivals to Valkena's proxy, House Bern. Factorum Tiberius took the lead, wrangling their support in exchange for supply rights to the Ark. We considered this little cost, and laid aside the more juvenile and bloodthirsty suggestions made by Lady Kreva. I confess to being buoyed by these successes, for our victories are so often bought with bloodshed. Perhaps hoping to accord to recent trend, Tiberius began an abortive effort to bring about a peaceful accord with a reticent Mortimer. It has become apparent however, that neither are particularly sane, and Morty, at the least, is utterly unreceptive to reason. Impotently threatening our superior vessel, Mortimer resisted our every offer, until Leo lost patience and cut off the channel. We did learn of Morty's extensive telepathy powers, as he openly wore an employee and threatened to likewise puppet his own Astropath. He has no knowledge of me however, and I am confident that any contest between us would surprise him. I hope the opportunity comes, for I relish the chance to boil so illustrious a brain. The final piece of the puzzle will be a non-aggression pact with House Valkena. They are substantially weakened by the decline of their allies in favor of Solut and Kreva. It is our hope that they can be persuaded to abstain from the brewing conflict until our position is secure. They can rest assured they will be treated fairly, though Lord Valkena himself has little hope of survival.

Whatever we do about Mortimer, the rabid dog that leads House Hilde is likely to be provoked. Yet it is imperative we silence the Wild Card first, as Arthis informs me that air-superiority will be critical in crushing Hive Hilde. A decisive strike on Morty must surely come, for this one great advantage holds our allies in line. He truly chose an inauspicious moment to appear.

Session 12
I record this on behalf of my friend Hades Arkaidos Vulcanov. I fear that it may be the last account committed to this archive, as the one who has done so fondly and often in the past is rendered unable. I take up this role against the chance that it will not be permanent, but there is little hope.

My name is Tiberius Iselsi Heleot, and I am High Factorum to the Arkaidos Dynasty. Over the last 11 years, I have been ceaselessly pestered by questions, and endlessly challenged by the limitless curiosity and enthusiasm of Hades' unusual mind. He has invaded my privacy utterly, uncomprehending of the distance at which most of us live our lives, inviting and offering unconditional friendship to any receptive of it. I confess that in the early days of our relationship, I found him irritating and disturbing. In the fullness of time, I considered him to be my greatest friend. I have given many years of my life to the service of this family, risked life and limb on many occasions, and come perilously close to the loss of my soul in the depths of the Warp. What separates me from Hades, I wonder, or any other soul who sacrifice their faculties in the service of a greater good? Am I marked in some way, that my path has never led me into such dreadful harm, that I am spared the horror and pain that claims those dearest to me? Perhaps the universe in governed only by vicious chance, the Immortal Emperor too far distant to turn his attention to a lonely, trusting soul. My trust in the word of the Church has waned in the years of my service, and now I sense that even the simple flame of faith I preserved may wither. My friend is dead, though his body survives, for there is little left of who he was before.

The Cadre has been absent from the Ark for days, below on cursed Tennenburg. The days they passed in negotiation with each maddening faction, Reggie and I shared command of the ship. Nominally it belonged to Caan, but the graceless braggart is scarcely to be found outside his cabin. I recall with fondness that Hades once locked him in his privy, and hours passed before his absence was remarked upon. Gideon passed through the librarium as I compiled some late projections, a mysterious and menacing figure who has quickly ingratiated himself with the Captain. We exchanged some information on the dispositions of the forces below before he disappeared again. He unsettled my nerves, and I was glad to see him go. He relayed the order to move to combat readiness, which I duly effected; soon the troublesome Mortimer would suffer our attention. As I discharged my duties, Sarvus reported a psychic ripple at systems' edge. I voxed the Captain and Hades concorded, though neither could confirm the cause. Concerned at the possibility that his brother had summoned aid, the Captain returned to the Ark and called an assault upon the Wild Card. The Ark would turn it's guns upon Hilde once the threat of it's sister-ship was extinguished. Sling-shotting through the gravity of the planet, we came upon our enemy with speed and surprise. The frigate reeled as we issued salvo, but our advantage was short-lived. The Ace arrived at full Warp, a second frigate and a second opponent. I was greatly impressed with the initiative of our new helmsman, the recently elevated Severin Tar; a daring and dextrous roll brought the Ark to a crushing collision with the Wild Card. Hades was pleased, as this facilitated an assault on the enemy bridge, which he and the Captain gleefully led. The vessel was shortly ours, though Mortimer (in characteristic fashion) abandoned ship without a fight. The Ace, however, continued to fire upon the scrum, a stray shell causing catastrophic Warp Engine eruptions aboard Mortimer's ship! The Ark rode out the shockwave without further damage, and allowed the Ace turn tail. Our attention was on the erupting planetside war, as the mercenaries of the "House Militant" staged the first assault on our behalf. We gathered our allies and launched a counter-attack as Hilde sought to seize control of Hive Koenrich. We began a mass landing of troops around the conveyance tower, and a strategic insertion of a further 1300 to the front established by Theot and Hilde. As the Ark rained fire upon Hilde's supply lines, we pressed towards the front in pursuit of the commander himself. I watched via vid-link to Arthis' monocle, as he and his men lured Hilde into an ambush, sniping from rooftops and fortified buildings. The Household stormtroopers of Lord Hilde took a fearsome toll upon the defenders, yet our men held firm and closed the jaws of the trap. I have recovered a further vid-capture from a Sentryman Samson's helm; he was with Hades 'till the end. He turned to the armsmen and smiled broadly, all three eyes wide with child-like excitement; "Everyone knows the drill right?" He threw one last look over his shoulder at the Captain and Arthis, pinned down by a torrent of lasfire. "I'll doubtless take a few hits when they spot me, so keep them distracted if you wouldn't mind." "Roger that," came the reply from Arthis and "take this bastard out Hades" from a frustrated Captain. He smiled again, in the earnest fashion that was his way and spoke for the final time. "Right. See you all on the other side."

With a rippling snap and a swirl of smoke, he was gone. As the armsmen poured forth to lay covering fire, Hades appeared deep in the enemy lines. I had never seen him use this ability before, and none of his apprentices can tell me how it is accomplished. This, like so many things I never asked him, fills me with a deep regret. There are many hours of conversation that we will now never share, and I am profoundly sad to have lost the chance. I imagine that he would have been very proud, to have contributed to the war effort so personally. He saved many lives, as the war may have dragged on for weeks had the damned House of Hilde seized the Hive city from Theot. Yet this would have meant less to him than the approval of the Cadre, the friends whom he admired and sought to impress in his every action. It is unlikely they realize how much a family meant to someone like him. We would have spoken long into the night, on matters of salvage and cost, sharing a revelry over our victories. He would have sipped at a glass of the Quaddian wine I appropriated from the Captain's stores for the occasion, marveling at the complexity of the flavor. He would have bid me a fond goodmorrow, and drawn by the serenity of the observation deck, drift to the bridge for an hour or so of contemplation. He would have sat where I sit, and spoken to record his feelings and thoughts. If I know him, he would have spoken of pride and contentment.

Shortly after he destroyed Lord Hilde in single combat, Hades suffered consecutive hellgun shots to the face and skull, which rendered him near to brain-dead. The intense cranial-trauma he suffered has erased most of his motor-function, and virtually all of his personality. I attended him in the medi-bay this evening, and I am sure he did not know who I was. He smiled at me, but it was crooked and without joy. I fear, I no longer know him. I overheard Ellis tell the Captain that he is capable of continuing his duties as Navigator; despite vastly reduced capacities he is still the most talented aboard. I consider it testament to the person he was before. He is little more than a slab of meat now, held upright and intravenously fed by support systems in the Nav-Tower. I cried when I heard that. He took such joy from food. We have been victorious at Planet Tenneberg, yet it does not feel like victory. The Cadre goes about the final business of contracting with Theot, and I play my part. Yet a hollowness pervades my experience, as though colors and flavors are diminished by the absence of one who so appreciated them. I discharge my duties yet, but the luster of promise is gone from my share of the thrones. There is little left to say, except perhaps…

goodbye my friend.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License