Errant Traders

Once More Into The Maw!

+++Intercepted Astropathic Transmission from: Impiety’s Penalty+++
+++Location: Magoros, Koronus Expanse+++
+++Destination: DATA CORRUPT+++
+++Author: DATA CORRUPT+++
+++Thought for the Day: The Emperor Abides.+

The Impiety’s Penalty docked at Port Wander for routine resupply and repairs to the main docking bay; damage sustained during the recovery of Arch-Militant Karak {{Trace: Transgen, Firax, Tenesaile }} necessitated putting in at a port traditionally avoided by the Dynasty’s fleet. Intercepted missives to the Penalty included one addressed directly to Lord-Captain Argustus Clawface from one Orbest Drey {{Trace: Emperor’s Testament}} requesting an audience within the Court of the Dead, to which the Captain agreed.


Making contact with Drey amongst the teeming masses of Port Wander’s trade district, the Explorers were initially offput by Drey’s tattered void-suit, pungent aroma of amasec and tendency to scratch himself. These concerns were put to the side when Drey uttered the rites of service, proffering an elegant wooden chest which popped open at the touch of Argustus’ fingertips. Orbest then revealed how it came into his possession, explaining that he had been a deck officer aboard the Emperor’s Testament, a vessel that had belonged to Free Captain Vos Karlorn and part of the Clawface Dynasty’s fleet in the days of Argustus’ great-grandfather.

During a violent Warp storm, their vessel was blown far off course, coming to rest in a strange and uncharted system. The ship’s Astropath reported a faint message, a cry for help from a lost Imperial vessel. Tracking the salvation beacon proved that the message was in fact tens of thousands of years old belong to the fabled treasure ship the Righteous Path.


Having little interest in legends and fables, the Explorers pressed Drey for more concrete details; Drey continued with his own story; Karlorn, as a loyal member of the dynasty, chose not to pursue the treasure ship then and there, instead returning to Port Wander to make contact with the Rogue Trader. Months passed with no sign of his return, so Karlorn vowed to return to the Expanse and find him. Drey was entrusted with the map, to keep it safe until he returned. Karlorn’s vessel was never heard from again. Since that time, Drey had done his best to fulfil his duty, awaiting the return of his patron to the Port.


At this point, Magos Aesteban’s augmetic sensors registered a rapidly-approaching object from above, and raised his boltgun in time to fire off a single shot at the psyber-eagle that had swooped down to grab the memnolith from Argustus’ hands. Trailing smoke, the creature was able only to travel a few metres before dropping the stone and flapping away with a metallic screech of frustration. Thale and Titus called out to the others, spotting a loose ring of a dozen soldiers closing around them, while Echo registered a psychic burst from the raven’s frame indicating a powerful psyker had managed to read the stone.


In the ensuing fire-fight, civilian casualties (retrieved from Adeptus Arbites logs) were placed at 23 as both parties fired with little regard, with weaponry ranging from bolters, large-caliber shotguns to hand flamers, while structural damage reached over three million thrones, a bridge and several carts bearing foodstuffs for beasts of burden were set alight. Arch-militant Karak was noticed to remove his helmet several times during the fight, letting out a roar that cowed onlookers and combatants alike. After barely twenty seconds of fighting, two-thirds of the soldiers had been slain, another two were babbling wrecks curled into the foetal position at Karak’s feet while the last two were doing their best to flee through the crowd. The Adeptus Arbites appeared at this point, and a short exchange between the Rogue Trader and one Sergeant Takar ensued. Audio was not available, though Tarak was noticed to salute and issue his squad to clean up the battlefield.


Back aboard ship, the memnolith was given to Navigator Viril, who identified it as an image of the Magoros system, one of the socalled ‘Founding Worlds’ of the Koronus Expanse. Pausing only to acquire a supply of photo-contacts from elsewhere on the Port, the Penalty quickly set forth through the Maw. The Frigate Fell Hand was noticed to depart the port shortly before them. Upon reaching the shard halo marking the boundary between the Maw itself and the Void, Navigator Viril requested an audience with Argustus, pleading that one of the Maw’s colossal warp storms was just leaving the only safe path through, and would make piloting difficult for both navigator and pilot. Argustus refused to be slowed down, giving the order to advance at full speed. With urgent voxes between Navigator and pilot, the Penalty made it through the storm with barely a flicker of her Gellar Field, Emperor’s Light be blessed.


After several days in the Warp, the Impiety’s Penalty dropped out of Warp in the Battleground, halfway point between Port Wander and Footfall. Astropath Echo detected the echo of a salvation beacon coming from the pilgrim ship Penitent Traveller. Scans determined that its augurs and main drive had both been damaged. The crew elected to get closer and attempt a rescue of any survivors; their efforts were stymied by a sudden burst of energy coming from the ship; scans by Titus identified it as a leech mine, cobbled together from xeno technology and thrusters from the debris in the area. At the same time, their shields were rocked by macrocannon shells as a pair of frigates came out of silent running and began firing on them. The combat that ensued left one of the attacker’s vessels crippled with another attempting to flee while Argustus was rescued from a failed boarding attempt gone horribly wrong, his guncutter’s engines failed and in an uncontrolled flight directly for the largest asteroid in the field.


A salvage crew sent aboard the Penitent Traveller made contact with the surviving crew, who pledged to serve Argustus if the pilgrims were taken to Footfall to continue their journey. Argustus agreed, though made no intimations of when this debt would be discharged. Censured at the time lost with this trap, he spurred the crew forward to Magoros directly, sailing right past the free port of Footfall.


Another few days passed in the Warp, until their vessel finally erupted into the Magoros system. Scans revealed it to be of little immediate worth; a shard halo surrounding the nominal border of the system, a single habitable world with a moon and a small planetoid scorched black by the periodic flashes of hard radiation emanating from the dying star.


Electing to begin their search on the largest planet, a quick scan exposed vast alien ruins covering much of the surface, which Titus determined as belonging to the long-dead Egarian Dominion. The largest alien city had a large crystalline structure in the middle, emanating pulses of energy detectable even from orbit. Flying down in one of the remaining guncutters, they quickly found that it would be impossible to land close to the tower, finding the ionised air fouling their sensors and inducing odd errors in the machine spirit of the mighty ship.


Landing several kilometres away, the Explorers heard a faint, chilling echo on the wind as it whistled through the abandoned city; that of an Ork waaaaagh. Forewarned, they proceeded through the alleyways and empty chambers, constantly on the lookout for orks. Their caution was rewarded when they emerged into a vast colosseum, at the centre of which was a firefight between a female figure hurling blasts of psychic fire at the orks surrounding her and several soldiers wearing the same armour as those who had attacked them back on Port Wander. The mercenary Thale attempted to get revenge for this slight on his employer, firing off a pair of shots from his bolter at the psyker, though both went wide and bounced harmlessly off orkoid armour-plate. Deciding discretion was the better part of valour, the rest of the Explorers edged around the conflict, ducking under a low wall ringing the fighting pit. Upon reaching the tower, the Explorers heard an even louder Ork yell; assuming that the psyker and her guards had been slain, they hurried into the tower, hopefully to find some clue to the treasure they were seeking.


As each passed over the threshold of the door, they found themselves immersed in white light, incoherent flashes of solar events, ship battles and alien faces assaulting their senses. Karak and Thale found no difficulty focusing their wills, gaining a precise view of a moment in the past; tumbling from a rent in the void, the treasure-laden Righteous Path was observed to crash into a cluster of asteroids out among the Shard Halo. Moving time back to the present, they saw the craft waiting there still, frozen and waiting beneath the ice, though even as they watched, they detected the arrival of small ships flitting around the icy behemoth, lascutters boring holes into the glacial container.


Furious at the potential of losing their loot, the Explorers quickly ran out of the tower, straight into the wild yelling and roars of a group of orks. Showing no fear, Echo was among the first into combat; ancient shock-staff whirling madly above his head. Unfortunately for him, bravery is no substitute for armour, two brutal slashes from an ork choppa cleaving straight through the astropath’s power armour. The other Explorers took a ranged approach to the problem, laying down a withering hail of fire while Magos Aesteban’s servoskull prepared a trap with bomb-spray. After several minutes of fighting the horde was finally repelled, allowing the Magos to attend to Echo’s grievous wounds, which revealed an oddness to Echo’s form which eluded Aesteban’s efforts at identification…


Returning to the bridge of the Impiety’s Penalty, the Explorers made best possible speed back to the Shard Halo, there to retrieve the treasure of the Righteous Path.


+++Message continues in cipher+++
+++03.234278% decrypted, total anticipated decryption: 03.4326%+
+++Surveillance will cont<indecipherable>ew current signs of C<remaining>+++
+++MESSAGE ENDS+++

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