The Licenian Heresy

Assaulting the Big Gray

(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Before departing the Solemn Hall on Ichabarr with their newly requisitioned Deathwatch, Inquisitor Promethea and her Throne Agents decided a bit of research on the subject of the planet they were to assault was in order. After all, Exterminatus 88837222020, known as The Big Gray, was mostly a mystery. They knew only that it was one of the first planets to suffer exterminatus since the Calyx Expanse was taken in the Angevin Crusade, and one of the first uses of biological virus-bombing before it became the standard method of exterminatus among the Inquisition.

Magos Attilan’s knowledge of the techniques of virus bombing made it clear why it was considered a “test case”. As one of the largest terrestrial planets ever discovered, its gravity would normally make human life impossible. But the Big Gray is a surprisingly light world, its crust composed of porous low-density materials. This permitted the possibility of high-gravity human habitation, but the sheer size of the world would stress the design parameters of the virus bombs used.

Sister Castita ultimately learned why the planet was purged. When discovered by the Crusaders, they found a vast population of short, squat humans, adapted to the high gravity, living in a fairly primitive state. It became clear to the crusaders, however, that this civilization was compromised in some fashion. It would appear that the porous rock of the planet was suitable for a slime-mold-type fungal infestation that was capable of parasitizing all other animal life. The planet-wide fungus was also, to some degree, sentient and psychic. Rather than permit it to extend its control into space, the decision was made to destroy all life on the planet, an act that caused the world-spanning fungal mind to lash out devastatingly to the orbital ships.

Under the theory that perhaps some of this fungus may still survive deep beneath the surface, Inquisitor Promethea and her agents ensured their armor was sealed against contaminants, and warned their Deathwatch contingent to ensure the same.

Inquisitor Promethea also raised Kayleigh Vandilus, loyal servant and cell leader, to the rank of Interrogator within the Inquisition, charging her with leading her cell aboard the newly-reacquired Cromwell’s Fury to hold back and provide backup to the Inquisitor herself and the Azure Rose in case something should go awry.

After a month in the warp, the two ships arrived at the Big Gray. They avoided the derelict orbital stations and their resident slaugth-infested squatter populations and found once more the continent below which, in tunnels a mile below the surface, vast slaugth energy readings could be detected by Magos Attilan’s custom-built scanners. Trooper Davos combined his superior knowledge of military tactics with Assassin Hiberna’s talent for using shipboard scanners to plot a likely location in the tunnels for teleportarium use. The Inquisitor, her retinue, and two squads of Deathwatch space marines then entered the Logician-built teleportarium and descended to the planet below.

The first thing they noticed was that the tunnel through porous rock was practically dripping with slime mold. It hung in ropy tendrils from the ceiling and slicked the walls and floor. Inquisitor Promethea detected that it was all one superorganism spreading out as far as her percipience could permit, and it was an immense psychic mind, although not, perhaps, notably sentient. It did not appear to immediately note their presence, but the air was filled with its spores.

They moved through the tunnels until they faced a choice. The chamber with the slaugth energy readings was ahead. One path was more direct, leading through a large antechamber first. The other was circuitous, taking far longer, and potentially necessitating the use of the mining equipment Magos Attilan brought, but allowing more effective defense. They opted for the direct route.

The large antechamber, it turned out, was filled with a couple hundred degenerate, squat humanoids, yellowish-green with fungal infestation, some having had parts of their bodies replaced by the blasphemous bio-cybernetics of the slaugth. When the force of arms arrived at the entrance to the chamber, the lights they bore sparked the horde into screaming, gurgling motion.

Two-hundred fungus-infested assailants may well have been the end of the Inquisitor and her entourage if not for the disciplined ranks of the Adeptus Astartes, who cut them down in droves with heavy-flamer, assault cannon, storm bolter, and the pyrokinetic talents of their Salamanders-chapter Librarian. Even so, the Inquisitor’s team acquitted themselves well with fire bombs, flamers, hellgun fire, and the Inquisitor’s own psychic abilities which cowed the derelicts with the Word of the Emperor.

Such combat, however, woke the planet to their presence, and it began to work its way into their minds, seeking to subvert their wills and guide their hands to remove their helmets and thereby be exposed to fungal infection. Magos Attilan’s medical knowledge was sufficient to fight back the fungus pulsing through the veins of the one Space Marine to have his armor penetrated, but the psychic assault on their minds was harder to fight. Inquisitor Promethea called upon her own force of will and assailed the very soul of the planet itself, causing such agony that it recoiled from them, leaving them to continue their mission unmolested.

A few short minutes later, they entered another chamber, this one bathed in a nacreous yellowish light. They had emerged on something of a ledge above the floor, which was one vast seething morass of necrotic maggots. At the other end of the chamber, about 60 meters away, was an immense arch made of bio-mechanical slaugth technology, through which could be seen an entire world covered in a sea of slimy worms. The maggots upon the floor of the chamber, then, were visibly an extrusion into our world from whatever blasphemous realm the slaugth originate from.

Legionairre Corvus rallied his fellows and they advanced down into the well of maggots, seeking carve a path to the archway through force of arms. The mass extruded tentacles of maggots, dripping with necrotic slime, to repulse them. The marine injured from the previous battle was grasped, armor and flesh dissolving into death, but suddenly Sister Castita called upon her powerful faith in the divine god-emperor of mankind and the marine rallied, pulled from the brink of the Emperor’s embrace to fight on. She accompanied the force of arms into peril while Magos Attilan activated the powerful jump pack engines built into his mechanized frame. Trooper Davos leapt upon the Magos who flew through the air of the cavern. Slaugth flying constructs came down from the ceiling, and with Davos’ guns, and Bastion’s maneouverability, they made it to the portal arch where the Magos clamped himself to investigate and hopefully shut it down.

The Inquisitor and the Assassin hung back, seeking advantage in the situation. Some aerial constructs engaged them in battle, doing great harm to Assassin Hiberna before Sister Castita, fleeing her own injury at the oozing mass of maggots that nearly pulled her to her demise, rushed to her medical aid, calling once more upon her faith to speed healing.

The mass of maggots spoke, offering the Inquisitor and her agents knowledge and power if they would serve. Needless to say, nobody listened to such blandishments.

The battle, then, proceeded in three parts. At the portal, Magos Attilan analyzed the slaugth technology with an eye and an expertise that was uncanny. He rapidly determined that although the portal had no conventionally moving parts to sabotage, it could theoretically be poisoned. Wielding a plasma cutter, he rapidly penetrated the skin of the vast device and injected a large quantity of holy machine oil into the pulsing innards of the construct, whereupon it began to tremble and sweat foul fluids. As he worked, Trooper Davos fought off the flying constructs that sought to prevent them in their work, sending their destroyed pieces into the morass of maggots below.

At the entrance to the room, Inquisitor Promethea wielded her sword, robbed of all psychic impact, but deadly nevertheless, to slay hovering constructs while Castita worked to heal Dido. Castita then aided in the defense with her hand flamers.

Upon the floor of the cavern, the Deathwatch carved a vile path through a sea of necrotic maggots until the mucus ran in rivers reaching their thighs. Armor and flesh began to rot but still they fought, holding back the mass, preventing it from spawning slaugth maggot men who would otherwise be free to assail Magos Attilan or the Inquisitor. A techmarine from the Iron Templars chapter was ensnared and nearly liquified before, once more, Sister Castita called upon the Emperor to resurrect him from near certain death. Nevertheless, even stout hearts such as theirs were hard pressed to fight back the slimy sea.

Magos Attilan’s poisoning of the gate, however, had an immediate effect. As he and Davos flew back to rejoin the Inquisitor, the maggots began to pulse and flow back through the portal, desperate to flee our world before the machine ceased function. This alleviated somewhat the pressure on the Deathwatch. The portal did, in fact, explode dramatically, whereupon, robbed of whatever force permitted its presence, the remnants of the slaugth, necrotic mucus and all, evaporated into nothing.

With the oppressive weight of their energies departing, the Inquisitor found she could once again access her psychic abilities. She, alongside Sister Castita, Trooper Davos, and the Deathwatch medic, saw to all wounds. They evacuated the planet in such a way as to ensure quarantine, sterilizing themselves and all equipment of fungal spores in the teleportarium-chamber of their vessel, taking no chances of spreading its foul influence. As they did so, Interrogator Vandilus and her ship shot down the various derelict orbital stations, destroying in the fires of re-entry any remaining agents of the slaugth in the system.

Thus ended the threat of the slaugth and their puppets in the Ixaniad Sector for at least a century. This victory cemented Inquisitor Promethea’s reputation within the Inquisition, and led her to serve a long and storied career. Although she never rose high in the ranks politically, she was accorded a great deal of respect as a field-Inquisitor. She focused much of her attention on establishing more and better schools for psychers, utilizing rigorous discipline and training principles so as to ensure a greater percentage of survival and utility in the graduates.

Assassin Hiberna stayed as one of her most valued agents for much of that career, although she ultimately fell prey to a fate that is sadly not unusual for assassins of the Temple Vanus, that of dissociation.

Trooper Davos married Elizabeth Starling, using his Inquisition influence to ensure that the Starling Dynasty stayed true to their bargains, and also securing his own legacy.

Magos Attilan spent many decades hunting down Hiram Vain, using his Inquisition contacts as well as those of the Adeptus Mechanicus to find the rogue Logician. His success or failure is beyond the scope of my knowledge.

Sister Castita soon after retired back to the service of Cardinal Solaris where she used her extensive social contacts at all levels of society in the Ixaniad sector to be a vital intelligence resource for both the Ecclesiarchy and the Inquisition.

This, then, concludes this chapter of my biography of Inquisitor Promethea and her favored throne agents. I will outline the Inquisitor’s efforts against the Yu’vath in volume II.

Preparation for Assault

600 + GM
(Brian, Jane, Peg, Doug)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Upon capturing Garvus Slynt and transferring his criminal empire to Lady Captain Elizabeth Starling, whilst sending astropathic communication to Callidon Rees and their allies on Ichabarr for swift action against the other two thirds of the Amaranthine organization in the sector, Inquisitor Promethea and her agents were left with an unfortunate question of timing.

Although they had no evidence that slaugth mind-control maggots had any particular capacity to communicate across interstellar distances, the Inquisitor and her agents had to assume such a thing in order to effectively strategize their assault on Exterminatus 88837222020, a.k.a. “The Big Grey”, the planet where the slaugth “Director” of the syndicate could be found. According to their navigator, the Big Grey was an estimated two weeks by warp travel away, while Ichabarr was, the vagaries of the warp permitting, more than two months away.

The concern was this: that the slaugth, being extrusions from some other dimension or reality, can readily pack up and depart in advance of any potential assault. The agents carefully analyzed their memories of anything that may have been said in the presence of the worm-infested adept, and came to the conclusion that, under the assumption that the slaugth know everything it knew, that they may be concerned that a “certain group” knew so much about them, but nothing gave them away as actually inquisition. The adept himself saw little except the inside of a shuttle while the Inquisitor took Slynt’s ship.

The crux of the debate was whether or not to attempt storming the slaugth stronghold alone, or whether to requisition the aid of the Deathwatch. Although they came to another means by which the Deathwatch could be alerted that was only about a month away, conversation with Elizabeth Starling saw a new plan hatched.

There was a chance that the slaugth would assume that the whole fall of Slynt was a treacherous plan orchestrated by Starling, seeking to claim Slynt’s place within the Syndicate, not as a betrayal. The possibility existed that if the Inquisitor and the Lady Captain made best time to the Big Grey, they could contact agents of the slaugth on the derelict orbiting station and convince them that this was just a mundane power-grab, no need for concern, no need to retreat to their own dimension. Should this deceit succeed, the Inquisitor would have the three or more months necessary to return to Ichabarr, report to the Inquisition, requisition the Deathwatch, and return to the Big Gray.

They put this plan in motion, the Inquisitor and her agents taking on the roles of hired mercenaries in the entourage of Lady Captain Starling. They went aboard the derelict station that the Director uses for meetings with his managers and other high-level covert action. It became clear that the squatters living there were all infected by slaugth cranial maggots, used as a combination of cover and security. They met with one of these men, who spoke for the Director. Starling engaged in her deceit, but the Director wished a more concrete demonstration of her loyalty, demanding that she use one of the slaugth disintegration rods on Inquisitor Promethea.

Things very nearly went to combat, but the quick, distracting speech of Dido, supported by the false reactions of Davos and Promethea themselves, laid the groundwork for the lie that they were just mercenaries, and killing any number of them would prove nothing. Magos Attilan covertly mentioned to the Lady Captain that perhaps offering to sever her own arm would be a suitable replacement.

Much can be said for the steely resolve of those who would be Rogue Traders. Lady Captain Starling stared down the agent of the Director, returned his rod, drew her power rapier, and cut off her own left hand.

This appeared to surprise the man, but after a moment, he recognized her gesture and much to everyone’s surprise even returned her hand. He gave to her all the top-level Amaranthine Syndicate “goals and missions” as well as pertinent data she would need to run Slynt’s operations, and they all retreated to their ship.

Magos Attilan and Inquisitor Promethea arranged to re-attach the Lady Captain’s hand. They did a covert orbit around the Big Grey utilizing the scanning methods pioneered by Magos Attilan, discovering a deep facility of enormous size veritably reeking with slaugth energy emissions. It was deep enough as to be safe from the casual bombardment the planet regularly receives, dug deep into the porous rock of the planet. They left Lady Captain Starling to run the Amaranthine Syndicate’s pirate operations as a placatory cover while they all returned to Ichabarr to gather their forces.

Fortunately, the Inquisition gets the best navigators, and they made good time to Ichabarr where Inquisitor Promethea reported on her efforts and successes. During their journey, Callidon Rees and his cell of acolytes had successfully taken down his cousin Cordelia Rees and the Cold Trade Emporium on Rashan, doing it in such a fashion to leave the local noble houses in a state of fractious warfare sufficient to keep any such network from arising again anytime soon. Inquisitor Purusha had, meanwhile, arranged the arrest of Lyza Blue and the syndicate’s legitimate mercantile operations out of Ichabarr, and had a number of them in cells awaiting further interrogation at Inquisitor Promethea’s convenience.

After a discussion with the Lord-Inquisitor for the Ordo Xenos, Inquisitor Promethea was given command of two Deathwatch squads of the Adeptus Arbites, led by Legionnaire Corvus of the Silver Ravens. They gathered to discuss tactical assault. Magos Attilan got mining equipment for insertion into the natural tunnels that riddle the Big Grey. Two squads of space marines are certainly effective in close-quarters, and the children of the Emperor arranged for weaponry to suit the battlefield. Magos Attilan, calling upon the resources of the entire group, also requisitioned a tarantula heavy weapons platform and a lascannon.

The plan was to use the twenty beacons for their advanced teleportarium to transport them all, plus the Deathwatch, plus the heavy weapon platform, into the slaugth tunnels, using the mining equipment for retreat or to open deadfalls as necessary, and lay waste to the slaugth as swiftly and surgically as possible before they retreat back to their realm. The goal was not extermination, as that was unrealistic. The goal was the destruction of their technological capacity to extrude themselves into our reality in that location, necessitating long and difficult movement of agents and materiel to rebuild.

Now, with a plan of action, Inquisitor Purusha pulled Inquisitor Promethea aside and revealed the existence of a secretive faction within the Inquisition, along with an offer to join. Lady Purusha told Promethea of the existence of the Vanem Umbrae, an organization that strives for cross-disciplinary information exchange amongst the three Ordos in fighting subtle threats to the Imperium, threats that may not be what they immediately appear to be. Having members of the Malleus, Xenos, and Hereticus sharing information makes it far more likely that threats will be accurately identified and that tools are available to fight them. Inquisitor Promethea joined, and came to the Vanem Umbrae vaults where she once again met me. She left in my care the technological specifications that Magos Attilan used to detect slaugth emissions against future need, as well as some interesting reports involving the autopsy of a heretek performed by Magos Attilan.

I’ll take a brief moment to discuss this matter. Slynt had in his entourage a tech-priest who had integrated all manner of xenos technology into his physical form. In addition to a slaugth disintegration rod, a stryxis ghostlight riftle, an odd piece of children-of-thorns tech in the form of a black mirror with a thorned frame, this heretek had installed a strange cylinder that, when made transparent, revealed a yu’vath crystal hanging in suspension. Assassin Dido interrogated the crystal utilizing her own unique methods and certain additional information about the yu’vath were revealed, namely that they are somehow completely incapable of perceiving the slaugth, even memories of the slaugth. It was known that the heretek helped install the slaugth device on Slynt’s ship, and that the yu’vath crystal was invading the heretek’s mind, yet the crystal had a strange blind spot where anything slaugth related existed. This added weight to the hypothesis that the slaugth had, either naturally or artificially, adapted to exist as parasites within the yu’vath slave empire.

Needless to say, the sentient crystal was destroyed, and the other parts of the heretek catalogued and shipped to the Great Mechanism.

Armed with knowledge, and with two squads of Deathwatch, Inquisitor Promethea and her Throne Agents set forth once more to the Big Grey to finish off the Amaranthine Syndicate in this sector, and their slaugth masters.

The Fall of Garvus Slynt
Ixaniad Sector-Spinward quadrant

700 + GM
(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Lady Captain Elizabeth Starling informed the Inquisitor and her Agents that the meet had been arranged. The Inquisitor’s agents took great precautions. Among the unusual characteristics of their Logician-modified ship were emergency decompression lockers in every bulkhead containing enough vac-suits for every member of the crew. It seemed an extravagant waste of space and resources, considering vac-suits are harder to get than new crewmembers, but in this instance the heretical quirks of the Logician cult were of benefit. Magos Attilan arranged for a potent narcotic gas to be released into the life-sustainers at need as a precaution against teleportarium boarding actions, with their own crew rendered immune through vac-suit use. They feared that Garvus Slynt would opt to simply take the Azure Rose by force rather than proceed with any planned negotiations.

They arrived in an obscure system filled with asteroids and other rubble. The wildcat miners and pirates lurking amidst the rocks did not bother the Inquisitor nor the Starling dynasty vessel accompanying them. Ultimately, Garvus Slynt’s flagship, along with three raider-class vessels, arrived in the system. Both sides scanned each other, and it became clear that Slynt’s ship was thoroughly augmented and upgraded, although his companion vessels were fairly ordinary. The modifications Magos Attilan had made to the deep-void augur arrays were able to detect the presence of Slaugth-tech energy signatures somewhere in the heart of Slynt’s vessel.

Lady Captain Starling invited negotiators from both sides to her own ship to discuss the transaction over dinner. Inquisitor Promethea, along with her trusted agents, and her acolyte Cormorant Tybaltus, acting as their figurehead “pirate captain”, took a shuttle to Starling’s vessel, opting to conceal the capabilities of their ship’s teleportarium. They left their remaining acolytes aboard the Azure Rose to arrange the release of the toxic gas, and to stand ready for treachery.

Slynt’s vessel also sent a shuttle, and both sides met for dinner. It became immediately apparent that Slynt was not himself present. He chose to negotiate via an underling dressed much as Tybaltus was, in ostentatious “pirate” garb. This negotiator, Lyle Gray, sat across from Tybaltus while the Inquisitor, in her role as thuggish bodyguard, and the remaining Agents, made the acquaintance of their counterparts. Gray had in his company a tech-priest dripping with obvious xeno-tech upgrades, a navigator of House Visscher, an adept of few words, and three low-class if murderously skillful thugs.

Dinner concluded and the two “pirate captains” withdrew to discuss the sale while the Inquisitor and her Agents learned what they could from their counterparts. Tybaltus managed to bargain all three of Slynt’s accompanying raiders as the price for the Azure Rose and both parties departed in their shuttles.

The Inquisitor and her agents briefly debated their course of action, recognizing that the process of investigation and transfer of command of four ships would take days. They realized that they would get back to their ship before Gray and his companions would get back to Slynt’s ship, and if they hurried, they could use their teleportarium to take the bridge, capture Slynt, and perhaps return before his capable retainers could come to his aid.

They grabbed a squad of ten crew, who had been trained by Davos in the use of the Logician combat armor and splinter rifles, and made this plan a reality.

They surprised Slynt on the bridge of his vessel. Magos Attilan’s attendant cybernetic creatures effectively sealed the bridge preventing a flood of reinforcements while his combat servitor charged Slynt himself. Sister Castita, utilizing the vox-caster implanted into her servo-skull, implored the bridge crew to stand down in the name of the emperor. So powerful was her command, that all complied except for the tech priests and the servitors working the bridge stations. These were handled with fire and combat hounds from Magos Attilan. Davos and the Inquisitor herself assaulted Slynt, who proved most adept at avoiding blows. He was able to give a command to initiate Protocol Omega 573, which caused the Slaugth technology in the heart of his vessel to translate the entire ship somewhere… else. In this place, the Inquisitor, and Temple Vanus Assassin Dido, found their psychic powers utterly negated, as if such concepts could not exist.

Slynt informed the Inquisitor that if she ever wished to return to the galaxy of man again, she would stand down and leave him alive. She informed him, conversely, that he should seriously consider how badly he might want to live. Looking into the eyes of a member of the Emperor’s Holy Inquisition, and seeing no fear of death, and great murderous intent, he capitulated, surrendering himself to her. At this point, the sealed door to the bridge simply… melted… and a Slaugth entered in the full might of his power. A gesture from his strange sceptre liquified three of the squad they brought, while his merest touch nearly did the same to Magos Attilan. Concentrated fire from Guardsman Davos, the Magos’ servitors, and even Dido ultimately slew the beast, although Magos Attilan’s valuable combat servitor was destroyed in the process.

They then, with their prisoner, made their way through the ship, haunted by the screams of the dying at the hands of stalking slaugth. They managed to avoid their hunters and made it to the Enginarium, where Magos Attilan was able to deactivate the slaugth device. Upon returning to our galaxy, they all, with their prisoner, returned via teleportarium to their ship.

In their absence, the Inquisitor’s acolytes were able to prevent Slynt’s allied ships from starting any trouble. Upon the Inquisitor’s return, they were able to convince Slynt to cause his people to stand down and depart the system. The three raiders he brought did so at his instruction. The Inquisitor caused the shuttle containing Lyle Gray and his companions to be brought aboard, and then instructed Lady Captain Starling to destroy the dozens of escape shuttles being used by the crew of Slynt’s ship, doubtless fleeing the horrors of the slaugth. Both ships then fired upon Slynt’s vessel, disabling it, and sent it on a trajectory into the system’s star, destroying it utterly.

The interrogations then began.

Slynt was entirely cooperative. He gave up details of the pirate empire he was building on behalf of the Amaranthine syndicate, including his growing network of spies and agents that had infiltrated all manner of Imperial organizations, mostly with an eye toward aiding pirates in avoiding capture. His branch of the industry was in “growth” mode, as he sought to bring more and more pirate activity under his aegis and influence. The device on his ship was a means by which slaugth could intrude on our reality, and was the method by which “the Director” conveyed his orders. In addition to a vast array of data on the structure and activities of his branch of the Syndicate, Slynt revealed the location of the Director: a secret base beneath the surface of the planet Exterminatus 88837222020, known as “the Big Gray.” This world had been virus-bombed during the Angevin Crusade by order of the Inquisition, and is now notable only as a place for naval fleets to practice planetary bombardment. It would appear that the base remains well hidden, and that the slaugth technology on Slynt’s ship was installed from one of the seemingly derelict stations in orbit.

Interrogation of the other agents revealed lesser variations on the theme. Lyle Gray knew he worked for Slynt and the Syndicate, but was unaware of alien influence. The House Visscher Navigator seemed similarly unaware of the slaugth. The xeno-here-tek had helped install the slaugth device into the ship, and had incorporated one of their disintegration rods into his mechadendrites, but otherwise had little direct interaction, but a great deal of technical and theoretical knowledge of their dimension of origin and technology.

The silent adept, however, proved more curious. On a hunch, the Inquisitor asked Slynt about the possibility of possession or corruption. Assassin Dido recalled, of course, the strange behavior on Ymir-3 that had caused them to speculate that the slaugth could somehow corrupt or control minds. Slynt passed all medical examinations they could think of, including attempts to psychically purify his body. Slynt himself was convinced that his slaugth masters kept tabs on him through covert spies and agents that riddled the Syndicate as direct eyes and ears.

The silent adept proved to be one such agent. Under medical examination, it was discovered that he had a single maggot burrowed into his forebrain. His original knowledge and personality was maintained as a sort of… illusion, a mirage of self, but the man’s soul had been consumed and a dark intelligence guided his flesh like a puppet.

Upon being exposed, the maggot secreted necrotic fluids, and dissolved, ultimately evaporating back to whatever realm it came from. The Inquisitor and Magos Attilan worked to develop means to detect such agents, realizing that the slaugth now know that THEY know about the existence of such agents, and anticipating a counter-attack to silence them from spreading that knowledge among humanity.

The Inquisitor and her Agents then handed all of Slynt’s knowledge over to Lady-Captain Starling, enabling her to seize control of his pirate empire. They then prepared to plan the next stage of their covert war against the Slaugth.

Pirate Raiding
Rubrica, Ixaniad Sector-Spinward quadrant

700 + GE
(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Inquisitor Promethea and her throne agents departed Port Echo. They brought with them the cell of acolytes who had done such excellent work in defeating the Pale Throng, as well as the former leader of that organization, the rogue psyker Annabelle.

They put their new crew through their paces, led in the pious exhortations, and entered the warp for the lengthy journey to the other side of the sector. They learned more about their ship and its strange, Logician technology. They discovered that Hiram Vain’s people had installed a very advanced form of teleportarium. Unlike the the finicky ancient devices occasionally recovered from antiquity, this one appeared to be newly constructed from first principles, smooth and quick to recharge… an enormous advantage in any ship-to-ship engagement.

The majority of the new crew of the Azure Rose had never been in the warp before, and so keeping morale in check for the months-long translation was a challenge, but Davos took charge of the training and physical conditioning regimine and Sister Castita held services in a newly created temple-shrine and the crew held to their sanity for the duration.

They arrived in the vicinity of Rubrica, the homeworld of Inquisitor Promethea, as well as the primary holding of the Rogue Trader Dynasty Vallenti. Their aim was the return of the body of Inquisitor Gaius Vallenti to his family.

They were welcomed by the Principate Gaius Ichabarrius Valentius, the current planetary governor on behalf of the Dynasty, who accorded the Inquisitor and her entourage all due honor. The funeral procession and rites for the fallen Inquisitor were, perhaps, a shock to many in Promethea’s entourage, as the people of Mortalis, the capitol, were still quite primitive in their technological base and their beliefs. The temple of the Great Sky Emperor held to blood rites and rituals of divination that some among the formal Imperial Creed would find offensive. Nevertheless, their rites honored the Emperor in their own way, and the Inquisitor’s people respected the rituals of her homeworld.

The wake was held in the style of the wealthiest families on Rubrica, with a feast and an orgy, which some among the Inquisitor’s entourage participated to greater or lesser degrees.

Finally, the Inquisitor spent some days with her own family, who held her up as a shining example of what those of her lineage could achieve, doubtless inspiring the next generation.

Inquisitor Promethea then embarked upon her second task. She formally declared herself a member of the Polypsykana faction of the Inquisition, and she and her agents called upon all their resources and connections to divert significant funds and faculty to swell the Scholastia Psykana school on Rubrica. Previously, it existed mostly to supervise the planet’s tithe in psykers, but Promethea had a vision to transform it into a premiere school for the training of the gifted to serve the imperium, rightly presuming that Rubrica’s local customs of training are sufficiently rigorous as to satisfy normal entrance requirements. Once she had set in motion a significant increase in funds and resources, she prevailed upon the Choirmaster to accept as a student the rogue psyker Annabelle. While he was horrified at her power, in light of her lack of training, he accepted the risk to himself and his school in the hopes that she could be taught greater control, and become a great boon for the Imperium.

Having accomplished these goals, Promethea and her agents set about the task of playing the part of a pirate ship in the hopes of ingratiating themselves into the faction of the Amaranthine Syndicate led by Garvus Slynt.

They found a fat merchant vessel and attacked it, knowing that these actions were for the greater good of the Imperium. They took great pains to minimize loss of life, however, utilizing their superior teleportarium to seize rapid control of the vessel with minimal harm or loss of life. They took the cargo, consisting of supplies for the VIII Ixaniad Guard Battalion stationed on Karysmos. They then sought a pirate haven to sell their gains, and cement their cover.

They discovered a planetoid known to the locals as “The Roc’s Roost” and docked. They sold their cargo, and caroused in the local establishments, cementing their cover as a new pirate crew with significant wealth, perhaps the indolent scion of a Rogue Trader house, or a noble “slumming it.” They set up their Acolyte, Cormorant Tybaltus, as their “pirate captain” and he took to the role with gusto.

They learned rapidly that all pirates operating in the spinward quadrant of the sector owed twenty percent of their take to “The Boss” in exchange for information on which systems had been picked over, which were rich pickings, and where the Imperial Fleet was at any given time. It would appear that, as anticipated, the pirates of this part of the sector were organized. They quickly got a meeting with “The Boss’s” lieutenant on the pirate port, Captain Lazuli, a retired pirate captain who now oversaw both the tithe, and all trade on the planetoid. They paid their tithe, as required.

Some of them noticed, however, that they had been spotted. Orion, the seneschal to Elizabeth Starling, was present, and they soon discovered that Starling herself was newly operating out of this station. This seemed like an unusual coincidence until they got her aboard their ship and spoke to her.

It would appear that matters back in the Licenian subsector had changed dramatically, and that Imperial control was assured. Furthermore, the Rogue Trader House Aguirre had become aware of House Starling’s secret connection, much to Elizabeth Starling’s annoyance, and so they were backing away from that quadrant of space. Since the Amaranthine Syndicate were her primary backers, she and her ship moved spinward to help Garvus Slynt acquire new technologies, mostly by using her Warrant of Trade to salvage the Merides cluster for abandoned or damaged Logician technology. It would appear that Slynt, and the Syndicate, were seeking technological advantage in their dealings.

It occurred to the Inquisitor and her agents that they were flying around in a Meritech-Shrike class ship filled with advanced Logician technology. After some negotiations, they convinced Elizabeth Starling to set up a direct meeting with Garvus Slynt with the aim of selling the Azure Rose to him. Their real plan was, of course, to attempt his capture. To that end, they further arranged that Starling herself would, should violence break out, come down on their side, effectively betraying the Amaranthine Syndicate. She rightly pointed out that should the Inquisitor fail in her goals, this would effectively destroy the Starling Dynasty, and so in exchange she asked that should the Inquisitor succeed, that she be permitted to take over the Syndicate’s organized pirate operations, and that her “brother” Lazar be granted formal title over the Syndicate’s legitimate holdings on Ichabarr, currently run by Lyza Blue.

The Inquisitor agreed, even knowing that such a thing would suddenly catapult House Starling into significance, under the theory that having the pirates organized under a catspaw to the inquisition would be an excellent source of information on any aliens, daemons, or heretics that flourish at the edges of Imperial law.

Promethea and her agents put a number of other things in place, preparing Callidon Rees on distant Rashan to ready his cell to move against the Amaranthine Syndicate’s cold trade emporium, and preparing to have Imperial authorities seize the assets of “Vain Mercantile Consortium” from under Lyza Blue.

They then trained their crew as best they could in counter-boarding actions while Magos Attilan sought to fabricate a defense against the possibility that Slynt might have a teleportarium of his own, and may seek to take their ship by force.

With all these plans in motion, they awaited Elizabeth Starling’s word that the meet had been arranged.

Port Echo

700 + GE
(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Data on the events following the procurement of the Azure Rose, and the necessary requirements to get her operational again is somewhat sparse.

We do know that Inquisitor Promethea, her throne agents, and a cell of Acolytes entered the black tomb of the ship and encountered enigmatic incorporeal warp entities that assailed them. These entities could, apparently, possess the thousands of frozen corpses that floated through the vessel, and so the Inquisitor ordered a systematic sequestration of corpses into the cargo holding areas and the clearing of a safe path to the Enginarium. This was done with fire and faith until they reached the cold, dead engines, whereupon they encountered something unusual. The plasma drives were there, of course, but also a strange and immense machine that the warp entities seemed to avoid. Magos Attilan was able to speak to the machine spirit of the device and discovered, somewhat to his horror, that it was a cogitator system of such advanced nature that it very nearly bordered on the heretical silica animus.

It would appear that Lord Captain Finn had kept this Meritech Shrike-class vessel and used his connections with Hiram Vain to upgrade its already heretical systems. This cogitator system had spread its sinister systems through every aspect of the ship allowing a larger degree of automation, and a much faster rate of reaction and processing. There were also a number of other… experimental systems… attached, including one intended as an emergency purge should daemonic infestation breach the gellar fields. Mago Attilan activated this system, which appeared to work as designed, sending the remaining warp creatures screaming back to the immaterium.

Further investigation revealed that the ship was full of Logician tech, including an armory filled with the same advanced personal armor and weapons that they had encountered on Vain’s bodyguards. After some soul-searching, Magos Attilan determined that this technology would improve the ship’s chances of being taken for a pirate vessel, and therefore opted to keep it undamaged for their mission to find Slynt.

Some weeks passed while the ship was cleared of corpses, the plasma drives brought online, and the new crew assembled and put into place. Ultimately, however, the Inquisitor was ready to depart on her mission to track down the most elusive of the Managers of the Amaranthine Syndicate in the Ixaniad Sector.

Return to Port Echo
Port Echo

700 + GE
(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Upon the conclusion of Inquisitor Gaius Vallenti’s trial and execution, Inquisitor Promethea and her throne agents conferred about what to do next. The acolyte cell led by Callidon Rees had been given enough help to put them well on their way to tracking the Cold Trade Emporium. Lyza Blue’s location on Ichabarr was public and known. That left, among the Managers of the Amaranthine Syndicate, the pirate lord Garvus Slynt. They had no idea how to go about tracking him down however.

They decided that they needed to check in on their other acolyte cell on Port Echo, and perhaps while there, to arrange a “pirate ship” upon which to install that cell in order to get them close to Slynt. They arrived under their previous well-worn guises as the entourage to Lady Dido. Gallus Rees, owner and operator of the casino they had set up under their cover previously, was happy to see them and put them up in a vip suite of rooms. They then made contact with Kayleigh Vandilus, leader of their local acolyte cell.

They learned that their cell had been doing excellent work. Operating in tandem with Lady Captain Surma of the station, they had instituted a “clean streets” program where the poor and disenfranchised of the Gray Holds would be granted weaponry and basic training to form a general militia with the aim and purpose of cleaning the station of “undesirables” (namely mutants) in order to earn a place as useful and functioning members of the station’s society. Those who excelled in this task would be prime recruits for those naval ships now passing through with greater frequency. The hope that life aboard a warship as a common rating would be better than life in the slums of Port Echo was sufficient motivation for many, and the Pale Throng had been quite successfully beaten back. The mutant leader had been assassinated by Acolyte Birbo, and only the powerful renegade psyker Annabelle was left to kill or take into custody before the acolytes could consider their ask complete.

Inquisitor Promethea took control of the operation and they cornered Annabelle in the Black Holds. There, they sought a somewhat unusual resolution. Promethea revealed herself as an agent of the Inquisition and offered Annabelle a place at the scholastia psykana on Rubrica if she would surrender. Seeing no other option, the potent unsanctioned psyker placed her life and her future in the Inquisitor’s hands.

Aside from this last matter of business, Acolyte Toby had new information for the Inquisitor from Elizabeth Starling. Knowing the Inquisitor’s interest in the Syndicate managers, Starling had been tracking pirate movements and had data that Magos Attilan was able to use to discern the general part of the Sector that Garvus Slynt would likely be haunting, as well as his likely movements from there. It seems that Slynt would be spending some time at the Spinward edge of the Sector near the vast and lawless regions of space separating it from the Calyxis sector. This region has a poor reputation, of course, as the vicinity of the Merides cluster evokes memories of the Meritech War, but it continues to be a haven for pirate clans. This location had the good fortune to be relatively near to Rubrica, the Inquisitor’s homeworld, where she was honor bound to return the remains of Gaius Vallenti.

The only remaining question was how to ingratiate either herself or her cell as pirates. Fortunately, Lady Captain Surma herself had some aid to render. It would appear that the Meritech Shrike-class raider the Azure Rose that Lord Captain Finn had retreated to when transforming into the creature that the Inquisitor and her agents ultimately destroyed was still docked to the underside of the station. When Lady Dido had shut down the plasma drives, killing the crew of 15,000, the ship had remained, a sealed tomb, difficult to sell or otherwise dispose of. The Lady Captain indicated that the ship could be theirs. All they had to do was clean it out, install new crew, find a way to restart the plasma drives, and procure the necessary specialists, navigators, and astropaths for it to be spaceworthy.

The Inquisitor and her agents were able to procure astropaths, navigators, specialists, and even ratings (to be dredged from the aforementioned Clean Streets Program), but finding a Tech Priest with the particular knowledge of ancient plasma drives proved more difficult than expected. Fortunately, Surma’s Master of Commerce, Roan, was able to point them to the Rogue Trader, Lady Captain Evelyn Lin. The Lin dynasty was immensely powerful, with holdings across the Segmentum Obscurus. Her presence in the Licenian subsector was a cause for much speculation, but generally explained by the presence of the massive, salvaged Grand Cruiser belonging to her distant ancestor, the Arch-Missionary Vargas Lin. It would appear, to all viewers, that her sole interest in this sector of space was the recovery of this ancient vessel belonging to her family, and that her ongoing interest was in its repair and refurbishment at Port Echo. With Roan’s aid, the Inquisitor was granted an audience with Lady Captain Lin aboard her light cruiser the Star Heron.

Lady Captain Lin was the essence of etiquette, diplomacy, and regal grace, as befits a woman of her vast wealth, power, and status. She accorded the Inquisitor all due deference, and granted to her, as a gift, a referral for one of the Tech Priests engaged to aid her in her own refurbishment operations.

Having secured all they needed to theoretically get the Azure Rose functioning, all that remained was cleaning out the tomb of a ship, dealing with any strange or unusual alien technology that Finn may have stashed, and making the ship safe for all these new employees. They gathered their weapons and their resolve, and prepared to enter the ship they themselves had made a tomb.

The Trial of Gaius Vallenti
Rashan / Ichabarr

700 + GE
(Doug, Jane, Peg, Randy)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

On Rashan, Inquisitor Promethea met with the six acolytes recruited by Callidon Rees to infiltrate the Emporium. Two of them were star-crossed lovers of rival minor noble houses who had kept their love a secret for seven years. Such skill and subtlety made them most effective at navigating the treacherous climate of Rashan’s ruthless politics. One was a member of the lower classes, convinced of his noble legacy, who was actually a low-level employee in the Emporium already. One was a dull but intimidating woman more muscle than brain. One was a misused Administratum adept who spent his spare time investigating crimes for the Adeptus Arbites, and the last was a young cleric of impeccable breeding who sought valuable service in the Emperor’s name.

The Inquisitor inducted these six officially into her service. In the process, the talents of her own throne agent, Lady Dido, detected a greater than usual degree of spiritual corruption in the female noble, one Lydia Dao, that prompted greater investigation.

They discovered that House Dao, as well as a few of the other minor noble houses, were involved in a sinister cult dedicated to a chaos entity known as the “Dark Hierophant,” a being summoned by dark rites of debauchery, degradation, and sacrifice. Lydia herself had left the cult, perhaps for love of her secret beau, but the mark of those black rites had stained her soul. She confessed all to Sister Castita, and was shriven, knowing full well that such confession might bring low her entire family.

Callidon promised to keep an eye on Lydia, and to alert his own secretive associates to the existence of the cult so that it could be traced and culled. The Inquisitor and her agents spent a week aiding their acolytes in various subtle ways before returning once more to Ichabarr.

The black cells aboard the Cromwell’s Fury were nearly complete as promised by Inquisitor Purusha. In thanks, Inquisitor Promethea informed her Ordo Hereticus peer of the cult discovered on Rashan. Lady Purusha had, apparently put a similar cult to the sword on Rashan merely fifteen years before. The was most grateful for the news that it had regrown or flowered anew in such fertile soil.

They discovered that Inquisitor Gaius Vallenti of the Ordo Malleus had been brought to the Solemn Hall to face charges of Phaenonite heresy in a formal hearing that might well result in an edict of Excommunicatus Traitoris. Upon speaking with Inquisitor Distaff, the formal accusor, Inquisitor Promethea discovered that Distaff had utilized Rogue Trader assets to procure the means by which to rob Vallenti of his daemonhost companion. In so doing, Vallenti had attacked Inquisitor Steendahl and his agents before ultimately being apprehended through extreme violence. Distaff also conveyed to Promethea the proxy of Inquisitor Steendahl, and a dataslate containing much greater detail of Vallenti’s crimes.

While they waited for the trial, Sister Castita spent the time well making connections among the Ecclesiarchy of the Capitol, including a meeting with Cardinal Alahr. Magos Attilan spoke with Magos Biologis Fortran and discussed the methods whereby Gaius Vallenti was kept alive and functional, as well as arranging a bargain for the construction of a potent combat servitor. Inquisitor Promethea and Lady Dido spent their time researching Inquisitorial precedent in anticipation of the trial.

The day of the hearing came. Only Inquisitors were allowed within with the exception of specialists necessary for evidence or service to the hearing itself. Sister Castita was named Ecclesiastical officiant. Magos Attilan was brought in as a technical specialist. Lady Dido was included as having material information relevant to the proceedings.

In all, 15 Inquisitors made it to the first hearing of Excommunicatus Traitoris in 120 years.

Inquisitor Distaff formally accused Inquisitor Vallenti of adherence to the Phaenonite Heresy. Inquisitor Vallenti, missing an arm and visibly weak from his recuperation, employed the unexpected tactic of openly acknowledging such adherence, but claiming that the philosophy should not be deemed heretical, and should rather be embraced as an accepted, if Radical, viewpoint within the Inquisition.

This put Vallenti’s foes on a back foot as he proceeded to make an impassioned defense, citing the existence of Neumos, and calling it the culmination of all the lore and power of ancient humanity, a psychic machine capable of elevating an individual to power equivalent to that of the Emperor himself. To counter the accusation that his Phaenonite beliefs precluded worship of the Emperor, he claimed that the Emperor himself had never desired worship, that the Emperor was a great and powerful man, the greatest psyker ever produced by humanity, but that he never claimed to be a god. Vallenti claimed that his philosophy was not a disrespect to the Emperor, but rather one of emulation. Vallenti, in short, sought to follow in the Emperor’s footsteps and bring about another Great Crusade, a renaissance for the Imperium.

The question and answer that followed tread on dangerous ground. Inquisitor Promethea and Inquisitor Distaff did not want to reveal too much about Neumos to all assembled, but Vallenti seemed insistent that the planet was central to his plans, and one could not rightly accuse him without understanding why. Vallenti also broke with precedent and summoned his own former daemonhost to testify on his behalf, an act that condemned him in the eyes of many.

Nevertheless, it was clear that there were some, particularly among those Inquisitors who claim the Recongregator faction, that some of what Vallenti said struck home. Although all assembled adjudged him guilty of Phaenonite heresy, some few saw merit in aspects of his philosophy.

It was not enough, however, to come even close to saving him, and it appeared as if he fully expected that it would not. He accepted his judgement with admirable calm, and when given the option to name the method of his execution, opted for beheading by Inquisitor Promethea according to the ancient customs of Rubrica.

This she did, in her role of priestess of the Fire Temple, militant, and executioner of her people.

The Emporium
Ichabarr / Rashan

(700 + GE)
(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

After her meeting with the High Inquisitor, Inquisitor Promethea was troubled by matters of Inquisitorial politics. She gathered her people who, in turn, brought together their own gathered information on a variety of subjects.

Lady Dido continued to puzzle over the inconsistencies in the tales surrounding halo devices while Magos Attilan perfected the arcane adjustments that would permit an auspex or other scanner to detect the malign energies of slaugth technology.

A hale and intimidating agent of Reliquary 23 arrived with forbidden tomes, granting them to the Inquisitor to peruse on the subject of the banned and excommunicated Phaenonite philosophy. Inquisitor Promethea studied them with some care.

Ultimately, after conferring with her Throne Agents, the Inquisitor opted against confronting Lyza Blue in her offices on Ichabarr, and the group boarded the Cromwell’s Fury intended to sail the empyrean to the hive world of Rashan, there to find their former companion, Callidon Rees, and see what he had learned of his cousin, the Amaranthine Syndicate manager Cordelia. They were concerned, having not heard much from their former associate, that he may have been in trouble or compromised and so they opted against sending a detailed astropathic message. They did, however, alert him to their arrival via commercial astropath once they arrived at the planet.

They secured a suite of rooms at a hotel suited for visiting and wealthy nobles. Shortly they found themselves disturbed by a pair of individuals who rapidly proved to be acolytes to the Inquisitor, recruited and sent by Callidon to ensure that his “friend from Rubrica” was, in fact, the genuine article before Callidon himself appeared.

Callidon debriefed the Inquisitor on his efforts thus far to untangle the web that was the Cold Trade Emporium on Rashan.

It would appear that the Emporium was not a physical place, and so could not be visited or raided. Such a thing would be impractical on an Imperial hive world, even one as sprawling, tangled, and riddled with intrigue as Rashan. The Emporium was a complex network of blinds, counter-blinds, agents, and intermediaries all arranging for sellers to do business with buyers while maintaining all necessary protection and anonymity for both parties. To participate in the Emporium one needed to “know a guy who knows a guy” in the local parlance, and engage in a convoluted process of negotiation, all to protect the parties involved from the Inquisition.

Rashan is a world that thrives on intrigue. It’s dozens of noble houses have developed an elaborate dueling code. The Emporium had existed for centuries, although previous to Lord-Captain Finn’s rise, it had been a more diffuse black market effort. Finn introduced a significant cold trade element, and now, under Cordelia Rees, that element had come to dominate the Emporium’s profits.

The Inquisitor also learned that Cordelia Rees arrived at the top of this shadowy network through the usual methods… betrayal and assassination… all backed by Amaranthine Syndicate money and information.

The Inquisitor prepared to meet with the rest of her local acolyte cell to ensure that the suitable rituals of loyalty were upheld, and thenceforth to consider how best to deal with the Emporium.

Inquisitorial Factions
Port Echo / Ichabarr

(700 + GE)
(Brian, Doug, Jane, Peg)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Having secured the aid Elizabeth Starling, Inquisitor Promethea and her Throne Agents awaited Starling’s information by throwing another party at the House Rees casino for the power-players of Port Echo. They monitored the shifting politics and fortunes of the various Rogue Trader dynasties and Imperial functionaries and met Commissar Kenshi Ogawa who had been delegated the task of overseeing Lady-Captain Surma’s transition to respectable Imperial station-commander.

True to her word, Starling provided all the information she possessed on the Amaranthine Syndicate whereupon Magos Attilan and Adept Dido applied advanced data analysis to look for patterns and conclusions. It appeared to be true that the Syndicate had gone from nearly no presence in the Sector to a nascent but significant one in a frighteningly-fast period of time. The Syndicate was the one who purchased both ships used by the Starling dynasty, as well as funding their operations in the Licenian subsector. In exchange, the Starlings were to provide transportation for Syndicate personnel, as well as introductions to elements within the Cold Trade and legitimate trade.

The Inquisitor and her Agents were chilled to note that their own actions in demolishing the Council of Nine were capitalized upon by the Syndicate, who purchased Cold Trade assets at a steep discount from Council members, absorbed Lord-Captain Finn’s pirate and Cold Trade network, purchased outright Hiram Vain’s legitimate mercantile empire, and through the simple expediency of knowing the right people and picking up the pieces, had become in the span on months the pre-eminent brokers in the Ixaniad Sector Cold Trade as well as gaining a strong foothold in legitimate trade and piracy, respectively.

The Syndicate, it appeared, was run by anonymous “Directors” who give orders to various capable and individually powerful Managers who each have significant portfolios of responsibility. Due to the inconveniences of long-distance travel from the Calyxis Sector, it seemed highly likely that at least one Director was personally overseeing operations in the Ixaniad Sector. Starling knew for a fact that there were three Managers.

Garvus Slint was placed in charge of all the Syndicate’s pirate interests. He operates out of a raider-class vessel with significant technological upgrades known as the “Void Kraken” and interfaces with the various pirate groups who had once been loosely affiliated with Lord-Captain Finn.

Lyza Blue was the Manager in charge of Vain’s Mercantile Consortium. She operated openly out of Hiram Vain’s former offices on Ichabarr, and was now in charge of all the Syndicate’s legitimate trade.

Cordelia Rees was placed in charge of the Syndicate’s Cold Trade interests, operating out of the emporium on Rashan.

Inquisitor Promethea and her agents took into custody the two Pale Throng psykers who had surrendered, and they planned to depart. They made Ichabarr their first destination so as to drop the psykers off at the Scholastia Psykana, but also to look into the matter of the two Halo Devices now known to be present on the capitol world, and to see what might be learned about Lyza Blue. Their plan was to subsequently take the journey to Rashan to see if their associate Callidon Rees and the cell of acolytes he had been charged with building, had made headway, especially considering the fact that the Cold Trade was being run by one of Callidon’s relatives.

They arrived at Ichabarr where the Inquisitor opted to stop by the Solemn Hall, headquarters of the Ixaniad Sector’s Inquisition. There, she met with Inquisitor Purusha who offered to aid Inquisitor Promethea in procuring the necessary resources to have black cells installed on the Cromwell’s Fury. Inquisitor Promethea provided to Inquisitor Purusha the information on the Halo Devices, and left the latter to pursue that investigation.

While Acolyte Dido perused the Inquisition’s library looking into other reports of Halo Device usage, Inquisitor Promethea was summoned by High Inquisitor Alexandre Daro.

What was spoken of in that meeting is unknown to this humble scholar, but it involved disturbing political shifts within the Sector’s Inquisition which resulted in a more concerned and careful Inquisitor Promethea.

The Mystery of Elizabeth Starling
Ymir-3 / Port Echo

(700 + GE)
(all present)

From the Archives of Archibald Fanning, Vanem Umbrae

Although learning the ancient history behind the Yu’vath was of great interest, Inquisitor Promethea and her throne agents could not allow it to distract them from their most pressing concern, namely the enigma of the Slaugth and their allied (or, perhaps, controlled) human syndicate. They knew that the Starling Rogue Trader Dynasty was deep in the Amaranthine Syndicate’s pocket, and that Elizabeth Starling had visited Port Constance, that nest of Slaugth filth, and transported mysterious cargo to the Yu’vath controlled Promethium refinery known as Installation 23. What was the connection between these two vile xenos enemies of humanity? How much does Elizabeth Starling know? Why would the Slaugth, a deeply anti-psychic species, have any interest in the Yu’vath, a species that is nothing BUT a psychic gestalt-mind?

The current theory posited by the Agents was that in the era of the Yu’vath empire, before the coming of the Angevin Crusade, the Slaugth found easy hunting. The enslaved human populations that served the Yu’vath were excellent sources of ready food for an extra-planar species that was effectively invisible to the Yu’vath themselves. The Inquisitor and her agents decided at last to return to Ymir-3 to procure the only piece of extant Slaugth technology they knew about, the Royal Sceptre of Praxia, in hopes that studying it might permit Magos Attilan to develop the means to detect such devices in the future.

They traveled to Ymir-3 where they discovered that the unification of the planet under the new Imperial Governor, Lady Nadir of the House of Fera, was progressing well. As a culture that fetishizes their political leaders as religious figures, converting the populace was reasonably easy after rival houses, kings, mayors, and whatnot were eliminated either politically or by force. With the might of the Imperium backing her, only a single Kingdom on the continent of Abraxus was still holding out.

Governor Nadir met the Inquisitor and her Agents, remembering them merely as a band of Imperial witch-hunters under the leadership of Sister Castita. Still, she remembered them well, as potent friends who avenged her mother’s death and set her on her current path to rulership of her entire planet, and so did them the honor of meeting them informally in her chambers. It was clear that notwithstanding a certain discomfort at the pomp and stage-management of leadership, she was doing quite well, and she demonstrated effective Imperial etiquette due, no doubt, to Sister Lyra, a member of the Ordo Famulous who rapidly became acquainted with Sister Castita, promising to maintain ongoing correspondence. Governor Nadir was presented with a facsimile of the royal sceptre created by Magos Attilan, but she politely refused it. Apparently she had retired that symbol of office, not wishing to contaminate her new role as the Emperor’s servant by continuing to utilize a piece of xenos technology. She would have destroyed it had her Prime Minister not cautioned her to, instead, store it in a vault against future need.

The Agents recollected that the Prime Minister, Trice, had been a somewhat shady fellow when last they were there, and it may well be his motives in this were also somewhat shady, but they were useful, and so they said nothing as the Prime Minister was summoned to fetch the sceptre from the vaults. Guardsman Davos ensured no funny business. For once, a seemingly innocuous errand proved to be just that, and the Inquisitor and her agents departed with the Slaugth object.

Careful study by Adept Dido, the Inquisitor, and Magos Attilan revealed some astounding details. The sceptre had no internal mechanisms or apparent power source, being instead a rod of solid matter incorporating seemingly incompatible base elements bound together by a mysterious energy that did not seem to originate from any particular source. Activating the object apparently required contact with bare, living flesh, and drew somewhat from a body’s natural bioelectrical field to activate the yellowish energy blast that seemingly disintegrates all it touches. They developed a darker theory that the matter is not disintegrated, but rather transported to whatever alien reality the Slaugth inhabit. Magos Attilan began the long process of learning how best to use this knowledge to detect more and greater Slaugth technologies.

The Agents opted to return to Port Echo to check in with their Acolyte cell and other assorted matters. Their acolytes reported progress with the Pale Throng, having successfully recruited two of the Throng’s rogue psykers away with the promise of legitimate training, and having organized and armed the poor, destitute, and criminal who live in the Gray Holds to stand firm against an enemy that the acolyte’s propaganda painted as a horde of subhumans who hate all legitimate humanity. Their plan was wait as support for the Pale Throng eroded, and the strength and resolve of their rag-tag force increased. They also hoped to successfully assassinate either of the Throng’s leaders, the rogue psyker Annabelle, or the hulking mutant Mog.

The agents also opted to procure, using their various contacts and resources, some upgrades for their ship, Cromwell’s Fury. They build and installed a glorious Temple Shrine to the God Emperor, featuring small shrines to Saint Serena the Conscripted, Saint Castor the Obviate, and various others. They also procured, via an assortment of means, the mechanisms and forbidden information necessary to make an in-depth study of esoteric artifacts such as the Slaugth sceptre. Guardsman Davos bought a higher-quality cyber-arm.

The Inquisitor’s agent aboard Lord-Captain Lazar Starling’s ship, known to her only by reputation and the name Sparrow, managed to contact her via clandestine means. It would seem he had attempted to file a number of reports, but the Astropaths aboard the Starling vessel may well not have sent them. He managed to smuggle a datapad into the Inquisitor’s hands which detailed Starling activity. He had found no overt cold-trade or Slaugth related activity. Both Lazar and his rather more mysterious sister Elizabeth seemed to alternate stays at Port Echo with the exploitation of the distant planet of Phyrr. It would seem the Starling Dynasty had laid some claim to that world, using derelict Adeptus Mechanicus satellites and equipment to attempt the safe exploitation of this extremely deadly world. After some discussion, the Inquisitor and her Agents decided that the time had come to act decisively to plumb the mystery of Dynasty Starling once and for all.

They waited for the limited window when both siblings’ ships were in port at the same time. Adept Dido once again utilized her feminine wiles and contacted Elizabeth Starling for another romantic and intimate evening while Inquisitor Promethea and the others waited silently in the other room. They arranged for Lady-Captain Surma to confound any attempted departure of either Starling vessel, and took all manner of precautions against the potential for exotic poisons procured from Phyrr.

Lady-Captain Elizabeth Starling arrived to what she clearly expected to be another session of initimate carnality with her noble and decadent acquaintance, whom she expected her subtle perfume of xenos substances might continue to place under her influence. Adept Dido did not disappoint her in the intimate arts, however in the aftermath, as Starling attempted conversation, the Adept utilized the exotic implants and talents trained in her by the Data Redacted to attempt to plumb the very depths of Starling’s mind.

At this point, Elizabeth Starling revealed a stunning display of acrobatic prowess, nimbly crossing the room unclothed to retrieve her power-rapier to defend herself. The Inquisitor and her other agents burst into the room and an altercation ensued. Starling revealed herself to be a consummate swordswoman, as well as the recipient of many top-quality biological augmentations. Ultimately, however, a ruse by Magos Attilan, mimicking Lazar Starling’s voice, coupled with Inquisitor Promethea taking his physical form, prompted Elizabeth Starling to surrender herself to the custody of the Inquisition.

Adept Dido’s mental interrogation, confirmed by verbal interrogation, discovered that nearly a century ago, a member of a distant branch of the Aguirre Dynasty named Dorothea made dark bargains with the Children of Thorns to recover the lost Warrant of Trade of the Starling Dynasty, wiped out by those self-same aliens. Dorothea changed her name to Dorothy Starling and embarked on a very long-con to resurrect the Starling Dynasty and ensure the wealth and power of her descendants. Her daughter, Elizabeth, became the instrument of Dorothy’s intentions, studying all manner of exotic arts of warfare and commerce, working with her mother to cement alliances and funding so that when the Dynasty made its comeback it would have the ships and resources to defend itself. Elizabeth Starling was 83 years old, preserved via arts chemical, biological, and xenos in her current youthful form and figure. Lazar Starling was not her brother, but rather her son, taking on the face of the “head” of the Dynasty while Elizabeth, and behind her the even more shadowy figure of Dorothy, continued to plot and manipulate.

They learned that the Amaranthine Syndicate has long supported and funded the rise and return of the Starling Dynasty, and that neither Elizabeth or Lazar had any inkling of any links to the horrific xenos Slaugth until the Syndicate asked Elizabeth to sail into what was thought at the time to be impassable warp storms to the lost Port Constance. The storms had, of course, abated, and Elizabeth’s ship was perhaps the first to discover this fact. It was aboard the derelict Port Constance where she came face to face with the horrors of the Slaugth, and realized the potential error of her path, and the danger into which her fledgling dynasty was plummeting. Nevertheless, she knew that she could not disobey or she and her son would be destroyed. She transported the mysterious cargo for the Slaugth to Installation 23, where it was expected, implying an active alliance between Slaugth and Yu’vath that the Inquisitor had hitherto not expected. Elizabeth Starling then claimed, and her memories supported her, that she had no further direct contact with the xenos. She did, however, continue to aid the Amaranthine Syndicate in their expansion into the Ixaniad Sector, but simultaneously began forging alliances and contracts with other, more upstanding Imperial organizations, in the hope that she may someday be able to extricate herself and her Dynasty from Syndicate control.

No amount of ignorance or good intentions can fully excuse collaboration with xenos like the Slaugth, nevertheless, Inquisitor Promethea offered Elizabeth Starling her life, and her continued operations involving Phyrr, which were apparently a legitimate attempt to exploit a resource and sell the product to the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Imperial Guard. The secret of her false lineage would also be maintained. In exchange, however, Elizabeth Starling was to provide all information about the Amaranthine Syndicate that she possessed, and continue to provide more as it became available. Starling seemed genuinely grateful for the leniency and the opportunity to preserve her son and the future of her family. She accepted the deal and promised the first encrypted data-drop with a few days.


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