The Shilwulf Dynasty
Chapter 03 - Damage Control
|Present Location:||Deep void performing emergency repairs|
Battered by warp currents, the hull of the Emperor’s Hymn groans as it leaves the perils of WAV-314 behind. Though it feels like an eternity, a mere two days pass before the ship drops out of the Immaterium, finding itself sitting in the deep void and light years from the nearest star.
Lost in thought, Octavius stares through the floor to ceiling windows in the grand dining chamber. Like spider webs, cracks extend out from the xenos mine’s initial point of impact in the meter-thick armorcrys. Before him his ship lies gravely wounded, the long scar carved into the Hymn’s dorsal side visible only by the lumens of the void repair crews. His eyes follow the gash until it disappears from sight in the distant darkness, an unsubtle reminder of just how far from civilization they truly are.
He takes a long sip of warmed amasec from the fine crystal goblet he holds in his cybernetic right hand. The fact that the artificial limb doesn’t simply shatter the delicate glass is a testament to the augmetic’s superior craftsmanship. He takes a moment to admire the gleaming silver pistons within the adamantite housing silently adjusting themselves as he casually swirls the amber liquid. A high quality but nevertheless permanent memento of the last time he had almost greeted Death.
While serving as a captain in the Imperial Navy, Octavius was ordered to the Tygress system to defend against a Chaos incursion. The responding Imperial forces soon found themselves outnumbered by the powerful enemy vessels. As the battle waged on, half his squadron perished in mere moments to a battle cruisers broadside. Suffering heavy losses, the situation seemed hopeless as the Chaos ships cut through the overwhelmed Imperial fleet like a scythe. With reinforcements too far away to arrive in time, Octavius was left with few viable alternatives. Rather than face total annihilation at the hands of the Ruinous Powers or, far worse, suffer a boarding maneuver, he felt the time was right for decisive, if final, action.
Making his peace with the God Emperor, Octavius ordered his own ship to ram the Chaos flagship head-on. There are few if any crewmen that would follow such an order without protest, but Shilwulf’s bridge crew did just that. An eerie and solemn silence fell over the men as they executed their captain’s final order. Even as the Chaos cruiser approached, the bridge was a scene of calm. That is the kind of man Octavius Shilwulf is – his crew followed him not out of fear or duty, but respect and confidence.
The armored prow of the Imperial vessel slammed directly into the enemy’s bridge. Though nearly destroying his own ship in the process, by a miracle of the God Emperor the bold action effectively decapitated the leadership of the Great Enemy’s fleet. Their central command obliterated, the Chaos ships quickly fell into disarray and were routed by the remaining Imperial forces.
The events of that day resulted in Shilwulf’s promotion to Lord Captain and the subsequent award of the Dynasty’s Warrant of Trade, all for the cost of an arm. This time, however, the price of survival seemed much greater than the loss of a mere limb. There was no glorious victory celebration, no accolades were won. They had barely limped away with their lives and it had been at a tremendous expense. The rogue trader turns away from the windows, but it doesn’t stop the unforgettable image of thousands of the Hymn’s crew tumbling into the void – a vision that has replayed in his mind countless times over the past few days.
Octavius sniffs the air as he refills his glass from the crystal decanter nearby. The sharp scent of frigid cold burns his nostrils, compelling him to utter silent thanks to the God Emperor and the Imperial Navy for the woolen officer’s greatcoat he wears. As most of the ship’s power is being diverted to essential systems, the ambient temperature sits just shy of freezing. Most all of the Hymn’s inhabitants have donned long coats, thick robes, or layers of whatever clothing they can scrounge. Even so, he fully realizes the crew on the lowdecks is suffering most of all. The conditions they live in are unpleasant at the best of times, but now are assuredly miserable.
‘Plasma scythe seems a very appropriate name, wouldn’t you agree?’ he says as he checks his pocket chrono. Being a man of few words Hob simply grunts an acknowledgement, figuring the situation speaks for itself. Enginseer Libram sits at the dining table close by, ensconced in his numerous data slates, rolls of parchment, and damage reports too engrossed to respond. The Hymn is much like a child to Libram, the damage sustained during the battle paining him on a level only a parent can truly fathom.
Surrounding the exquisitely carved table are twenty high-backed mahogany chairs, their plush cushioning the vibrant blue of House Shilwulf. The black marble floor has been polished in such a way that it almost seems to disappear completely. Reflecting the thousands of twinkling lights from the chandeliers above, the effect gives one the feeling of walking among the stars themselves.
‘Are we certain the readings are correct on decks 23 through 34?’
‘Yes, Lord Captain. It would appear that my efforts to isolate the critically damaged sections of the ship initialized some hidden security protocols, hence the warning message Doctor Marastraza and Master Hob heard. I have been assured by Acolyte Brendon that the tech-priests have identified the malfunction and have performed the proper cleansing rites.’
‘I imagine that gave the Doctor quite a scare,’ Octavius frowns, casting a knowing glance at the Mortressan. Ethan pauses for a moment as he recalls the situation, nodding slightly before returning to his schematics.
‘I would agree, Lord Captain. By the time I arrived, Master Hob was trying to pry the blast doors open with his bare hands – a pointless effort for someone without cybernetic augmentation. I believe the doctor was … praying. Neither had any way of knowing there was no actual danger of depressurization.’
’Better’n just waitin’ to die,’ Hob mutters under his breath.
The Lord Captain cringes at the thought of Annatolla being thrust into such a hopeless situation with no chance of escape. Even a heart as battle-worn as his feels a pang of regret at the memory of the last time the young woman had been faced with such finality.
It’s not your time yet, Annatolla, he thinks to himself. Not before I make things right.
‘It would appear, Ethan continues, ’that there were short bursts of communication originating from the xenos mines once the Hymn changed course. The signals increased in frequency as the ship penetrated deeper into the field. From the information our augurs were able to gather, it is my theory that the mines were working together as a collective force.’
‘Quite curious to be certain, Enginseer. However, pondering those heretical devices will have to wait. I am far more concerned with our current status.’
‘Of course, Lord Captain, my apologies for my digression. I dispatched several servo skulls into the ventilation systems to better assess the damage. As you can see on your data-slate, Sunseer laser turret II-A has been completely destroyed and we have moderate hull damage on our starboard side. However, the dorsal rupture is the most pressing matter. It has compromised the structural integrity of the hull and several internal sections are still exposed to the void.’
‘So this is why so few casualties have been coming into the medicae ward?’
‘Yes, Lord Captain. Currently 12,223 of our total compliment of 22,100 are unaccounted for and presumed deceased, though there is evidence of some trapped survivors.’
‘Guess that’s double rations for the rest of us, eh?’ Hob chuckles. His mirth is only slightly subdued by the disapproving expression Octavius shoots his way.
‘Most seem to be concentrated in Manufactorium VI and the adjacent brig. However, these survivors are inconsequential in comparison to the concern I have for the hull. I strongly caution against re-entering the Immaterium until my tech priests and I have had a chance to reinforce the breach. We were quite fortunate that we didn’t encounter any strong warp currents once we left WAV-314. I fear that if we had the Hymn could very well have been ripped apart.’
‘What is your recommendation?’
‘If structural integrity was not a concern, my suggestion would be to expel the affected sections. The probability that any crew in those areas were exposed to the Warp is quite high. Many, if not all, have likely succumbed to the twisted power of Chaos. However, at this point I fear that the depressurization would result in the hull being catastrophically compromised.’
Octavius could swear he hears a hint of sadness in the Enginseer’s mechanical voice, though it is undoubtedly at the thought of the Hymn itself being destroyed rather than the loss of additional crew.
‘So we’ll need to clear those sections of hostiles in order for your tech acolytes to begin repairs in these areas?’
‘Affirmative, Lord Captain. While I cannot provide a completely accurate risk assessment, the team you choose to secure the area will need to be prepared for the certainty of a direct confrontation with Chaos.’
‘Captain Shilwulf.’ As if appearing silently from the ether, the harsh familiar rasp of Janus Aldos, the Hymn’s lead astropath, carries across the spacious dining chamber. Though physically a wisp of a man, Aldos exudes an unsettling aura of power. In his presence it is clear to understand why Malakai chose him to take his place. Even Ethan, notorious for being completely oblivious to changes in human emotion, briefly glances up.
The hunched astropath hobbles forward, leaning heavily on his staff as he makes his way to the table. Viscous, blue-black liquid slowly trickles down his cheeks from his hollowed eye-sockets, a result of looking upon the God Emperor himself during the Ritual of Soul Binding. Most astropaths politely conceal their disfigurement, but Janus finds a great sense of pride in displaying the evidence of being judged worthy in His eyes. His phlegmy breath rattles in his chest as he takes his seat at the Captain’s table.
Navigator Leere arrives shortly after, his long midnight blue dress robes brushing the floor as he moves. Overshadowed by a thick cowl, only the lower half of his handsome face is visible. A personal attendant hovers near the Navigator’s side, a data slate clutched in its skeletal fingers.
‘Lord Captain,’ Leere bows his head respectfully. Octavius isn’t the only one haunted by the memory of their lost crew. Moments before translating to Warp in WAV-314, the Navigator was assaulted by a much more disturbing vision of the crewmen’s fate. In fact denied the sweet embrace of Death, thousands of dying men and women were instead twisted by the Warp into a singular terrible monstrosity. To have watched them perish is certainly terrible, but to witness the birth of such an abhorrent bastard child of the Ruinous Powers is a horror unto itself.
Quartermaster Kiv Harzon bustles toward the table, wearing his usual look of impatience. His impeccably clean Administratum robes swish as he sits, taking the time to arrange his three data slates on the table symmetrically. He is a man who strives for order in all things, a futile endeavor when under the employ of a Rogue Trader. The Quartermaster only nods curtly to Octavius before immersing himself in his slates, deeming the others unworthy of his valuable time.
Assigned by Octavius’s older brother Eisen, the Lord Captain has his own theories on why Harzon was sentenced to his own private hell aboard the Hymn. By all rights the Warrant of Trade should have fallen to Eisen, and he had been less than pleased when his military hero brother became rogue trader. Since the crash of the Invictus, Eisen has taken a keen interest in Dynasty affairs, insisting that Harzon be placed on the Hymn’s roster soon afterward.
‘The information you requested, my lord,’ Thurman Devalt announces as he presents two rolls of parchment to Octavius. Unlike Leere and Harzon, Devalt wears a black customized body glove. As mysterious as the man who wears it, the armor sports numerous modifications – their function a secret to all but the wearer. Though relatively young, it is clear from Devalt’s appearance that he has seen his fair share of trouble. The right side of his face is severely scarred, his ruined nose and cybernetic eye standing testament to whatever trauma he endured. His fearsome countenance combined with the Inferno pistol holstered comfortably on his left thigh make Devalt look like the walking epitome of the phrase ’Don’t frak with me’.
Octavius glances once more at his pocket chrono before tucking it away, a hint of annoyance playing at the corners of his eyes. ’Let’s get started, gentlemen. As you can-’
’I’m sorry!’ Anna’s voice interrupts as she rushes into the dining room, hurriedly taking a seat across from the quartermaster.
‘You are late, Doctor Marastraza.’
‘I apologize, Lord Captain. I was very busy in the medicae ward and-’
‘Was anyone’s life in danger?’
‘Ah, no, Lord Captain.’
‘Do not allow it to happen again, Doctor.’
‘Ye…yes Sir,’ she stammers, unaccustomed to the tone of unquestionable authority in his voice.
‘Seneschal, what were your findings?’
‘Mumblings of mutiny in the underdecks,’ Devalt begins. ‘Nothing substantial. They are unaware of how significant the damage to the ship is, but they’ll figure it out soon enough. However, they do know we’re sitting in the deep, and that makes them nervous. Being so far from a star system is an ill omen, the quicker we’re underway the better.’
Octavius nods, tapping his steepled fingers against his lips in thought. ‘Have a round of double rations and spirits distributed as soon as possible. Perhaps full bellies and something to take the edge off will abate their fears until we can sort this out.’
‘Sir, I must advise against such action,’ Harzon interjects, tapping one of his data states. ‘Our supplies are quite limited and we cannot be certain how long we will be here.’
‘It shouldn’t take longer than a week to reach Tanstar 88,’ Leere offers. ‘Provided there are no Warp storms, of course.’
‘If there is a Warp storm I am certain our repairs will be insufficient to hold the Hymn together.’
Octavius spreads his arms, shrugging. ’It’s settled then.’
The Seneschal nods, making a note on his dataslate. ‘As far as analyzing the augur scans, the presence of so many ork vessels in one system is alarming.’
‘Agreed. Enginseer, what is the current status of repairs?’
‘The onboard forges and foundries have been instructed to produce what parts they can to reinforce the stressed areas.’ Ethan reports. ‘But as it stands we are only able to perform minor patches. Stopping at Tanstar 88 will allow us to make significant improvements, but in order for the hull to be fully repaired we must visit a forge world. When that is complete, the damaged hexagrammic wards can be replaced.’
‘Our dynasty relations on Omnicron should give us a better position in the queue for repairs,’ Devalt offers. ‘Though we should contact your brother Eisen to keep our obligations in order. I do not foresee us assuming our usual order of business until the Hymn is void-worthy again.’
Octavius rubs his bearded chin in thought. ‘Janus, have the astropaths send a message to the Imperial outpost near Tanstar 88 informing them of our arrival. I am certain the Navy will be quite interested in curtailing a possible ork invasion of the nearby systems.’
‘I will require augur scans be performed in two key sections before we can safely re-enter the Immaterium.’ Ethan gestures toward the parchment schematics on the table. Rough sketches detail the areas he has performed sweeps on, even going so far as color-coding the rooms green, yellow, or red. ‘The green indicates chambers that have confirmed survivors present while the yellow represents areas of uncertainty. The red rooms have definite evidence of the taint of Chaos.’
The Enginseer taps one of his metal fingers on the largest of the two red rooms marked on the map, Manufactorium VI.
‘Here there is some kind of monstrosity. Unfortunately, the servo skull investigating the area was destroyed before it could provide a good image. From what little I could ascertain, the creature is quite large and fast. Next to the Manufactorium is a brig which could possibly contain several hundred survivors. However, I believe the monstrosity will make short work of them if it hasn’t already.’
‘Can you be certain there is but one abomination?’ Devalt inquires.
‘No, Seneschal. There could very well be others.’
‘Then we should open those sections to the void and be done with it,’ Quartermaster Harzon suggests. The old man’s spectacles sit perched on the end of his beak-like nose as he apathetically examines his data slate. The way he sips his warmed amasec with such an air of aloofness seems to add a frigidness all his own to the room.
Ethan moves to speak, but Octavius discreetly motions for him to keep silent. The Enginseer’s still-flesh brow knits in confusion at why the Lord Captain would allow such an unnecessary conversation to continue but nonetheless remains quiet.
‘And what of the possible survivors?’ Anna asks, her soft voice barely perceptible in the cavernous room. Harzon glances over his data-slate at her with a look of disdain.
‘My dear child, they don’t know it yet but they’re already dead,’ he replies flatly. ‘Hence my recommendation that we simply void that area and wash our hands of the matter.’
‘I feel that would be unwise, Quartermaster,’ Devalt offers. ‘If we don’t at least make an attempt to save the people in those chambers the morale of the crew will likely drop even lower than it is now. If they perceive the command staff as being unwilling to take a risk for them, what motivation do they have to do their jobs during the next crisis? They will be focused on saving their own hides because they cannot count on us.’
‘Their motivation, Seneschal, is continuing to serve aboard a rogue trader’s ship rather than being stuck in whatever underhive slum we managed to scavenge them from.’
‘How many cells are there?’ Anna asks, glancing at Ethan.
‘Five hundred cells, Doctor Marastraza. 427 prisoners in addition to 30 arbites on record at time of incident.’
‘Do you have any idea what 457 low decks crew mean to this ship, Dr. Marastraza?’ Harzon asks. Anna shakes her head.
‘Absolutely nothing. Void the section.’
‘Does the crew mean so little to you, Quartermaster?’ Anna asks. Octavius smiles to himself, recognizing the subtle but distinct underlying tone of challenge in her voice. It is one he has become quite familiar with over the years, and he almost pities the Quartermaster. Almost.
With an exasperated sigh Harzon glances at the Seneschal before turning a scowl of annoyance on the doctor, very much resembling how a parent might look upon a pestering child.
‘Madame, I realize you are new to void travel, but lowdeck crewmen are numbers, nothing more. Most were pressed into service from the dregs of Imperial prisons, and this bunch couldn’t even keep their noses clean as a low decks crew. It would be difficult to find a more worthless lot, it is a waste of our time and energy even considering them.’
‘Might I remind you, Sir, that we are all children of the God Emperor,’ Anna replies, shaking her head in disbelief at the Quartermaster’s utter callousness. ‘We would be remiss to deny our own crewmen the gift of His grace, especially in this hour of darkness. Be they one or one thousand, I am going in there, on my own if need be.’
‘You know nothing of matters such as these-’ Harzon counters as he puts his dataslate down. The frown on his face makes it clear he is not accustomed to his advice being questioned.
‘I know nothing of matters such as these?’ Anna replies, her voice wavering with barely contained anger. She fixes her fiery-eyed gaze firmly upon the obnoxious Quartermaster, a slight sneer pulling at the edge of her lips. ‘I know that over 400 of our crew are trapped in an area with a warp-spawned monster. I know they are terrified and feel forgotten. And I know that you, Sir, are a damned coward.’
‘How dare you!’ Harzon slams his fist on the table as he stands angrily, Anna rising to meet him. For a few long moments both Doctor and Quartermaster stare daggers at one another, neither willing to give ground.
‘We will see to the prisoners in due course.’ The Lord Captain’s words break the silent stand-off. Everything about him, from his facial expression to his body language, suggests complete calm. He doesn’t give either of them a second glance as he continues to peruse Ethan’s recon data as if nothing is amiss.
‘I see, Captain,’ the Quartermaster replies, smoothing the front of his administratum robes in an effort to compose himself. ‘Very well. Risk your lives to save 400 worthless prisoners. Obviously common sense will not prevail when this siren is around.’
In an instant Octavius is on his feet while, to Anna’s amazement, Hob moves behind Harzon seemingly in the blink of an eye.
‘Sir, you forget yourself,’ the Rogue Trader warns, staring the other man down with an ice-cold glare. A hush blankets the room, only the barely perceptible thrum of the Hymn is heard as moments of tense silence pass. Unable to withstand the Captain’s stare for long, Harzon breaks away, looking at the table in defeat. ‘Hob, please escort the Quartermaster out of this meeting.’
Once the bodyguard returns to his master’s side, Octavius sits back in his chair, continuing on as if nothing had occurred.
‘If we enter at this location,’ he points to a section of the Manufactorium, ‘We can deal with the monstrosity and clear the way for the tech acolytes to scan for structural breaches. Then we will move on to the brig and check for survivors.’
‘Please keep in mind, Lord Captain, as we discussed before this section is under incredible stress. Try to keep heavy weapons fire to a minimum or you run the risk of rupturing an internal wall.’
‘You knew the entire time we couldn’t simply void the section?’ Anna gasps in disbelief. ‘Why didn’t you say something?’
A roguish grin spreads across Octavius’ face as he watches the young doctor’s skin flush crimson with embarrassment. ‘I was about to actually, before you so elegantly took the matter into your own hands. I commend your initiative.’
‘Shame he didn’t take a swing at you, Doc,’ Hob rumbles regretfully.
Anna stares in open-mouthed shock at the bodyguard’s suggestion.
‘Then I’d have an excuse to put my boot up his ass,’ the Mortressan shrugs.
‘Easy, Hob,’ Octavius cautions. ‘Eisen would be quite cross if his spy met with such an unfortunate end.’
‘Spy?’ Anna inquires.
‘Indeed, Doctor,’ Seneschal Devalt nods. ‘Eisen insisted he be put on staff shortly after the crash of the Invictus. I have suspected him of espionage for quite some time, though there is little proof to support such an accusation. Yet.’
‘My brother’s machinations are the least of our concerns at the moment,’ Octavius points out. ‘More pressing is how do we get into the Manufactorium?’
‘We could use void suits to get through the breached sections,’ Devalt proposes.
‘Far too risky,’ the Lord Captain shakes his head. ‘And time consuming. The longer we sit in the deep void the worse off we are.’
‘If I might make a suggestion, Lord Captain, the teleportarium is operational.’
‘The teleportarium?’ Anna asks.
Ethan’s eyes light up at the chance to discuss one of the marvels of the Hymn. ’Yes, Doctor. The Omnissiah blessed our ship with a fantastic example of His wondrous gifts.
‘Can we depend on it for extraction?’ Devalt inquires.
‘No, Seneschal. Once the teleportarium is activated it will take some time to re-configure it to receive. Though I believe by the time you clear the manufactorium and brig my team will be in place to scan the area. Of course if you are unable to contain the abomination I cannot guarantee extraction will be available before substantial casualties are suffered.’
‘Then I suppose we’ll just have to contain it,’ the Lord Captain says with a serious look. ‘It seems we have little other choice in the matter. Hob, bring a few of your Mortressan soldiers, Doctor Marastraza will accompany us in the event medical support is needed. Seneschal, organize a team of arbites standing by with Ethan’s acolytes to secure and escort the survivors once transport is complete.’
‘I believe my abilities will serve well in this endeavor, Lord Captain.’ Nearly always first to volunteer for anything out of the ordinary, Leere’s voice contains more than a hint of excitement at the prospect of taking part in potential adventure, the riskier the better. Doomed to a life of eventual grotesque mutation, he seems eager to experience all life has to offer before his assured fate comes to pass.
‘It would be best for you to sit this one out,’ Octavius explains. ‘If we lose you we’ll be-’
’Frak’d,’ Hob says flatly. Then he catches the frown on the rogue trader’s face. ‘What? We’re expendable, Navigator isn’t. Simple.’
Octavius sighs as he pinches the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. The huge Mortressan seems totally oblivious to the look of obvious unease on Annatolla’s face.
‘I defer to your judgement, Lord Captain,’ Leere nods. ‘I will await the order to translate at your discretion.’
‘Everyone else report to the teleportarium in one hour,’ Octavius orders. ‘We will be going in armed and ready.’
He looks on as everyone but Hob files out of the room in somber silence, the ominous task before them weighing heavily on their minds. If he wasn’t so practised at keeping his emotions hidden, he doesn’t doubt he’d be wearing the very same look.
Getting too old for this, Shilwulf, he thinks to himself, downing the last of the amasec in his glass.
‘You sure Doc should go with us? She’s not even through basic trainin’, not real sure how she’ll handle herself in combat.’
‘Not all women can be like Mortressan females,’ the rogue trader chuckles. When he notices the bodyguard stiffen, he immediately regrets his choice of words.
Many years ago, Octavius’s predecessor had permitted Hob to take a wife. At the time it was unheard of for a Shilwulf-owned slave to be granted such a luxury, but Hob had proven himself to be quite a boon to the Dynasty. After returning from an extended mission, Eisen revealed that during his absence both his wife and son were lost during childbirth. Following their native tribal custom, Nia’s body was honored and laid to rest a day after her passing. The infant, however, had suffered some kind of hideous mutation and Eisen was forced to order the body cremated immediately.
It is rare occasion when Hob speaks of his wife and son, but he still wears the bone pendants he carved in anticipation of Ayr’s birth. Mementos meant to mark an auspicious day instead became constant reminders of loss. A burden he chooses, the reason known only to him, to carry everyday.
’I’m sorry, old friend. I meant no disrespect.’
‘None taken, Cap’n.’
‘I assure you Annatolla is much stronger than she appears. However, after we clear up this situation I will insist she make the time to pursue her combat training more seriously.’
Anna enters the small chapel, her feet lost in a sea of thick, cold vapor swirling over the floor. Her steel-shod boots clink softly on the obscured deck plating as she makes her way across the chamber, genuflecting briefly, hand on heart, before a figure of Saint Mina.
Before her arrival on the Hymn there had been no sanctified shrines. In addition to establishing the medicae ward, she took it upon herself to encourage a more prominent presence of the God Emperor. Following her firm belief to allow her flock to express their adoration for His Holiness in their own way led to many small chapels such as this one all throughout the ship. In fact this very shrine, dedicated to Anna’s patron saint, was created in the Doctor’s honor.
Like statues, her “Brothers” stand at rest in arched recesses in the wall behind the altar. As she rises her eyes immediately settle upon Michael. She stands on her tiptoes to gently stroke the still-human side of the servitor’s face, his left eye staring dully into the distance. Her fingers run over the deep scars gouged into his flesh, silently wondering how much suffering he has endured.
Tendrils of pain stab deeply into her soul as she is reminded that travelling the stars alongside Heinrich and Octavius had once been her fondest dream. Sadly, in a chamber long forgotten by time, Anna had been forced to make a terrible choice, one which destroyed any hope of such a dream coming true. Like a chisel upon stone, the weight of that fateful moment is forever etched into her heart.
With silent reverence, she gently presses her fingers against the activation runes of Michael, Gabriel, and Uriel. Their internal power cores surge to life with a deep hum as the Brothers awaken. The small green flames of their cybernetic eyes blaze to life before they step forth from their berths.
‘WHAT IS THY BIDDING, SISTER?’ Michael drones in his deep, mechanical voice.
‘Defenders of the God Emperor, I am in need of your aid. The corruption of Chaos has tainted this place, it is our duty to see it cleansed in His name.’
Michael places his chainsword against his broad chest in salute. ‘WE STAND READY TO SERVE.’
Empowered by the presence of her guardians, Anna stands a bit taller – resolute to face what lies ahead.
‘Then let us go forth and bring a light to this darkness, my brothers.’
We were still playing on Google Wave, so things were progressing slowly. This was mostly a planning session before diving in to deal with the Chaos beast in the brig. I had a total of six players (soon to be seven) plus some other high ranking NPC’s but Snowmoon and I decided to cut most of them from the story. Cranky old Malachai didn’t make the cut. :(
Another major difference is Lazarus Leere’s still handsome face. Randall had plans for Leere to be a suave lady’s man and thrill seeker, but the dice saw fit to deny him the opportunity. He had earned so much bonus xp from player assignments and creative contribution that he bought his second navigator power. Unfortunately, he failed his toughness test and rolled Inhuman Visage before we were even done with these “tutorial” sessions. Hopefully we can do the concept justice in story format. :)