The crew of the Explorator vessel “Veiled Horizon” had a reasonably notorious status in the Koronus Expanse. Though their declared interests were merely to find and analyse possible new colony planets for the Imperium, almost every soul on board was equally compelled by a heretical interest in Xenos technology, led by their fanatically obsessed Magos. Rumours of this secret agenda whispered across the expanse, though few were somewhat accurate and the closest of those were still essentially wrong. These rumours suggested that Veiled Horizon was making friends and allies of the filthy Xenos, openly sharing Imperial technology and secrets in exchange for much of the same.
The truth, however, was quite the opposite. Though Veiled Horizon did sometimes deal with other races while plumbing the depths of the Expanse for Xenos technology, they rarely tried to establish friendly rapports or maintain extended contact. In most cases, in fact, they would deceive, betray and otherwise undermine their trading partners, usually to the Xenos’ deaths, in an attempt to minimise impact and keep stories of this heresy from spreading. Obviously their attempts were unsatisfactory, though the rumours all remain unproven.
The Magos’ closest crew member and effectively a surrogate ship’s captain was a promising Void Master called Titus. In the few dealings made in Imperial territory, Titus was the face of the exchanges and in his typically arrogant way would introduce himself as “Born of Space itself”. This was, nonetheless, absolutely true. Titus’ entire existence had occurred in the void. Statistically he had thrown up more times than he had set foot on planetary soil. This lifestyle would drastically end when Veiled Horizon discovered a planet so fitting of their interests that they would colonise it with their own crew.
The Maiden World Veiled Horizon stumbled upon, known to the Eldar as Agaiss’Lavhrenuur (roughly translated to “Secret Salvation” or “Hidden Home”), augured to be so full of Eldar technology that entire generations could only study and reverse-engineer minute fractions of it. But it seemed clear on first arrival that like many Maiden Worlds this one hadn’t felt the bootprints of the Eldar in eons.
Thus the crew of Veiled Horizon made this world their home, with such certainty that they managed the arduous task of dismantling their beloved ship in components suitable for planetary entry. Veiled Horizon would never travel amongst the stars again. A fact that left Titus with mixed emotions. His entire life was space exploration, but his obsession with Xeno studies was a match for almost any of the Veiled Horizon’s crew. To this end, he left the fledgling colony for days at a time, wandering the ruins and wildernesses of “The Prophesised Land”, so they called it. He took to natural survival with remarkable skill and cunning, though his curiosity around the ruins could not be abated.
This would prove to be Titus’ undoing. His hands-on approach backfired when Titus was manipulating a particularly isolated Wraithbone pillar. It was adorned with many symbols and a single waystone, all of which could be turned in place. As he laid his hand upon the Waystone to touch one of the higher symbols, a pitched, wailing Eldar woman’s voice rung through is head as if she were screaming right next to him. His understanding of the Eldar spoken language had never been strong, despite his obsession, and was so long out of use that his first attempt at replying to the voice was met with silence for a few moments, which was replaced with slowly growing laughter.
As Titus grew more perplexed at this device’s behaviour he spotted something in the distance ahead of him. The few hills and local flora that stood between Titus and his home hid sight of the colony completely, but flocks of native bird-like creatures flooded into the air above. What had frightened them into flight reached Titus milliseconds later; a booming siren similar to a plasma drive’s deep hum but loud enough to shake the very Earth beneath his feet. With the briefest hesitation Titus ran in the direction of the colony, curiosity and fear manifesting in his chest.
His approach was mired by ancient, half buried or vine-covered webway gates cackling to life and spewing forth unfamiliar humanoids. He had to hide carefully as he watched and tried to describe these Xenos in his mind. He reasoned them akin to Eldar in technology, but not as bright or pure. Darker, sharper and considerably noisier. The sky above the Maiden world was full of clouds but behind them, bright flashes were lighting up the nimbi, broiling a storm in seconds, while small craft prows descended through the rapidly darkening sky.
By some miracle Titus reached the colony he called home, only to find it beset by brutal conflict. Arming himself with the discarded weapon of the nearest dead comrade he immediately joined the firefights. His efforts were valiant but in moments it was clear that the battles were largely one sided, despite Veiled Horizon’s meticulously gathered technology. Abandoning the fight Titus snuck his way further into the colony’s camps, searching for the lodgings he shared with his sister.
He found her there, roaring with fury and firing wildly into the darkening day, crouched in the doorway of their home. Titus managed to get her attention without getting shot and request she keep defending them while he darted inside. Amongst his many trinkets he pulled a small but intricate wraithbone amulet, crudely wired to a far larger piece of Imperial technology. This adaption, the only one of its kind that Titus had ever seen, served as a display and interface. It had cost him ten times the the number of trinkets that he now possessed, but the Eldar he had traded with insisted on the potential of the device. Arkivas Ketserrar, the Eldar Titus traded with, intimated that this device could interface with any operational webway gate. Titus figured any other place through the webway would be better than here.
What Arkivas hadn’t mentioned was the Imperial attachment was largely for show. The amulet was in fact a single use trip to a safe and unknown gate on a Death World (fortunately, one that was frequented by travellers). After sneaking their way through the fire and screams of the mid-slaughter colony, Titus was loathe to find out that the device also took a few moments to successfully activate the gate. As the pair valiantly defended their position, waiting to be sure they could dive through safely, a tall, silent and utterly terrifying suited figure paced through their fire and right towards them. Of all the details of this imposing figure, the one that stayed with Titus the strongest was a burning red symbol that gleamed from the figure’s helmet. A downward pointing triangle with three short tabs coming off each side.
Titus and his sister poured more ammunition on the foe, and it seemed to be impacting his armour and yet, not even slowing the figure down. Its approach seemed directed at Titus himself and within moments it was standing before the pilot. Before Titus could even reach for a bladed weapon to defend himself, one was given to him, a twisted edge plunged deep into his arm and catching on the bone. This intricately serrated edge was attached beneath the figure’s outstretched arm, likely attatched to the whole bracer and simply unwilling to part with Titus’ humerus. Titus’ sister dived in to oblige, catching a lucky monosword strike between the bracer and the other armour plates of the arm, removing it cleanly from its master. What Titus assumed was a long string of curses came from the helmeted head, and with an effortless swing, another unseen blade gleamed forth, slicing Titus’ sister cleanly in two.
Titus’ abject horror was cut off as the sudden release caused him to back into and fall through the open webway behind him. As he lay in settling dust on the other side, a sparsely decorated cave echoed his landing, the webway slowly closing before him. But just as it was about to shut, one last traveller fell through. His sister’s disembodied head, brutally removed at the neck.
The next visitor to the planet was a Rogue Trader of the Clawface dynasty. With his arm treated and the weapon hidden away, Titus was able to buy his way onto the ship with the now-useless Eldar trinket, and within weeks he proved his mettle as a void master once again, and with little else to flee to, asked for employ.
Stuff to come !
*My father “Barak” mysteriously disappears as titus was in his early teenage years !
*My mother “Fenria” the leader of the experdition to Veiled Horizon which titus assisted in with the help of our family strixus traiding friend (names in my book in the car cbf atm ! )