A belated Merry Christmas to all fans of the House Dureen saga. As Marvin says Lord Spatula has now completed the write-up from the game, which we're all proof-reading and error checking. We've also been having fun as a group working out that aftermath chapter Lord Spatula refers to. All I'll say is... watch out for that Major Kimenth!
Trust me boys and girls, this one will be worth the wait.
As for whether there'll be any more from House Dureen... well who knows. I think Marvin originally planned to complete his 40K RPG trilogy with a Deathwatch campaign, but some of us players are definitely petitioning him to return to House Dureen at some point, or what's left of it at least.
AKA Kilgrim Hartek, Oath-bonded Warmaster and Trader Regent of House Dureen.
Sorry for the delay, life got in the way of things again, here is part 1!!!
Segment taken from the official history of the Dureen Rogue Trader Dynasty
Current Location: Meltorn Tria, Meltorn System, The Malfian Subsector, The Calixis Sector
Malfi had been declared the Sector Capital after Scintilla had been cut off by warp storms almost a decade earlier so it was in the Malfian System that the combined forces dedicated to the defeat of the Tyranids had gathered. As it was, the ships of the House Dureen fleet after their diversion to Tantalus were amongst the last vessels to arrive. The system, unsurprisingly, was on high alert, and the new arrivals were challenged almost immediately the transited out of the warp, and were then escorted in system to Malfi itself. On the way in, it soon became clear the sheer size of fleet that was being deployed to face the xenos; there were thirty Imperial Navy vessels, twenty of which were Destroyer or Frigate class, nine were Cruisers, and a single huge Battleship. In addition, almost three hundred civilian ships had been pressed into service in one capacity or another, and of these three hundred vessels, fully a third were armed coming as they did from the fleets of other Rogue Traders or having been hastily modified to carry basic ship-class weaponry.
Inquisitor Atellus departed to the planet surface to complete some "Ordos business" whilst the rest of the Dureen crews continued to train hard; the reality of the situation focusing the minds of all involved. During this period, Brother Castagir requested a meeting of the Command Staff, and invited Magos Vyakai to attend. He put forward a suggestion that now they had the genetic markers of the Tyranids, they focus resources towards modifying bio weapons so that they would be more effective against the Hive Fleet Dagon genetics that the xenos had been identified as having; at worst, it was suggested that this would make the creatures slower to react, and in an ideal scenario cause a lethal reaction. He suggested that the toxin could be used in ammunition as small as modified bolt rounds, or as a warhead in an anti-ship torpedo. Magos Vyakai nodded in agreement, saying that should the resources be available, it was something he could work on, and Hartek immediately gave him the backing of House Dureen, telling him to begin the research and production of the targeted toxin.
Castagir paused, and then spoke again; "The Inquisitor also spoke of a "secret weapon". He believes that he has discovered a device that blocks access to the power of the immaterium, something that effectively cuts psykers off from the source of their power. He also believes that this will also block the way that the Tyranid Hive Mind controls its subordinate creatures, making them revert to uncoordinated instinct and become far easier to destroy." The Marine paused, and watched the people around the table realise the importance of his words; "However, to ensure that the device is effective, it would need to be deployed as close to the Hive Mind as possible, and in reality that means that it would need to be deployed either inside, or on the hull of the Hive Ship." Castagir smiled tightly at the rapid collective intake of breath that greeted that statement and then continued. "This is further complicated by the size of the device. It is large; thirty metres in diameter, and takes the form of a silvered metal wring inscribed with runes..." Castagir paused, and looked round the table. "Some of us have seen the runes before, in that strange pyramid Temple-Tomb, where we encountered Eldar who warned us not to proceed." He saw those that had been on the mission nod in remembrance. "The device seems to be of the same construction, of Necrontyr origins, at least that is what the sages call that dead race, and little more is known of them than the myths and folklore that those that travel the void pick up. It is clear that the Eldar know more, yet in their arrogance they will not pass that intelligence on..."
As he finished speaking the room remained silent as they those present mulled over his words, however Brother Castagir had further information to disseminate.
"I have received reports with regards to the numbers of our enemy. Reconnaissance has indicated that the splinter we face has divided into two, with specific targets. Of these smaller splinters, one is heading here, towards Malfi, the seat of power for this Sector, and the second is heading towards the Meltorn system, the home system of my..." Castagir stopped speaking suddenly, as if catching his words, and then found his voice once again; "The home system of the Hell Bringers Adeptus Astartes Chapter. The splinters seem to be evenly split, and each consists of around five hundred bio-ships, three hundred and fifty of which would be analogous with Escort class vessels, and one hundred and fifty analogous to Cruiser class vessels. Each is led by a single Hive Ship. The Hell Bringers have decided to divert the majority of their forces to Malfi to protect the Sector Capital, leaving minimal strength to defend their own holdings. In fact the only naval forces remaining in Meltorn will be a pair of Strike Cruisers, four Rapid Strike Vessels, Captain Locke's Aegis, and the attached Cruiser Squadron and escorts. There are also roughly one-hundred civilian craft, of which forty are armed in one way or another. In terms of ground forces, the PDF have deployed to prepared positions, but less than two companies of Astartes remain, and these are reduced in number."
Castagir could tell from the expression on the faces of those around the table that the others had already reached the same conclusions that he had when he received the intelligence reports. "It is my belief that the Hell Bringers are hoping for a quick, overwhelming victory against the xenos in Malfi, and then plan for a rapid redeployment of the surviving forces to Meltorn to defeat the enemy there too. " He paused. "It is also my belief that the forces left in Meltorn are insufficient to hold the Tyranids back for enough time to give this plan a chance of success. The Astartes are sacrificing their Chapter and its holdings to protect the rest of the sector. You have a choice. Do you add the power of the House Dureen fleet to the forces defending Malfi in an attempt increase the speed of victory here, or do you take it to Meltorn to aid the defence of that system; a course of action with far greater danger, and no guarantee of success?"
Rogue Trader Hartek spoke up; "Brother Castagir, I noticed you were not including yourself in the decision making process..."
"I was not." Castagir agreed. "I intend to travel to Meltorn, and make a stand there. All the visions I have had over the years have placed me there, facing the Tyranids. I have already spoken to Captain Locke, and if you decide to add to the defence of Malfi, I will travel with her. I believe, however, that House Dureen will have a greater impact on events should they deploy to Meltorn."
Hartek nodded. "Major Kimenth?"
"I agree with the Space Marine, Sir." Kimenth spoke slowly. "We will have a greater say in the defence if we fight at Meltorn, and will not be tied down by the rigidity of command here..."
Hartek turned to face Lieutenant Commander Ivanov. "Mister Ivanov?"
Ivanov came to attention; "Our forces have repeatedly proven themselves in a war of manoeuvre, and we would be restricted to fleet missions if we stay here. I say we head to Meltorn. The risks are greater, but so are the rewards."
"I am inclined to agree..." Hartek mused. "Our fleet is not insignificant; it would almost double the fighting power of the fleet at Meltorn. Captain Locke is deploying to Meltorn, and we all know how hard she fights. My gut tells me to head to Meltorn."
Castagir smiled. "In that case I journey with you for a while longer, Rogue Trader!"
The Dureen ships announced their intention to the Fleet Command, and although the decision was met with surprise from some quarters, and complete incredulity from others, including Rogue Trader Jeremiah Blitz, who laughingly declined the invitation that Hartek extended to accompany them to Meltorn. The ships however were completely resupplied in preparation for their redeployment, and during that time Brother Castagir appeared on the bridge and asked that a message be passed to the Sub-Sector Governor, Jendroum Kaffiq, requesting an audience.
The Naval Communicatorum Officer on Malfi openly laughed at his counterpart on His Undying Will, and the embarrassed man turned to Castagir to tell him so. Castagir simply gestured for the link to be connected to the terminal he was standing by, and waited for confirmation that it had been done so. Even as the link was transferred he could hear the Naval Officer still laughing and openly talking to the staff around him; "Some damned Rogue Trader, with ideas above his station no doubt. Well, I for one won't waste the time of the Subsector Govern-"
The Space Marine picked his moment to interrupt. "This is Brother Castagir Arl of the Deathwatch aboard the Dureen Dynasty vessel His Undying Will. Respond."
This time it was the turn of the Communicatorum Officer of His Undying Will to laugh as the sudden silence at the end of the vox link.
Brother Castagir repeated his greeting, and this time received a gabbled response. "My Lord Astartes! How- how may I be of assistance?"
"You have already had the request for an audience with Governor Kaffiq." Castagir pointed out, with exaggerated patience.
The voice at the other end of the vox regained some of its confidence. "Ah, but My Lord, the Governor is a very busy man, and even for an Astartes, I doubt he will be able to find the time..."
The Marine spoke with unusual curtness. "He will for me. Make the request. I will keep the link open and await the reply. Do not make me come and see you personally." By now the exchange had got the attention of all on the bridge, and hundreds of pairs of eyes watched the waiting Space Marine.
Less than thirty seconds later a contrite voice was heard over the vox; "My Lord Astartes, I have a response from Governor Kaffiq. He has ordered me to repeat it to you word for word so there is no understanding. It reads; "My friend Castagir has no need to request an audience, I await him at his convenience." Message ends." There was a pause. "My Lord Astartes, I meant no disrespect. Please accept my most humble apologies."
Brother Castagir ignored the man and cut the link, and turned to a grinning Rogue Trader Hartek. "Rogue Trader, may I borrow a guncutter and crew?" Hartek nodded, and Castagir strode from the bridge leaving many wondering how the Battle Brother had gained the ear of the Sub-Sector Governor.
Hartek turned to a surprised looking Major Kimenth, "It would seem that Brother Castagir still has the capacity to surprise us, and I would love to hear the story behind that...!" The Rogue Trader got to his feet, and called after the Space Marine. "I will travel with you; I have some people I wish to speak to on the surface too..."
Uncharacteristically, Hartek was unable to persuade Brother Castagir to tell the story of his friendship with the Governor during the descent, and they went their separate ways from the shuttle pad.
Castagir met Governor Kaffiq in his private audience chamber and after exchanging pleasantries and stories of their recent history, Governor Kaffiq suggested they walk along the palace walls and inspect the defences as they spoke. Smiling, the Space Marine agreed and Kaffiq waved away his attendants so they could walk alone. As he viewed the massed forces preparing to defend the planet, should the xenos make planetfall, Castagir passed on the intelligence that House Dureen had recently gleaned regarding the origins and potential vulnerabilities of the Tyranids, and then handed over a dataslate for the Governor to pass on to the Tech-Priests.
The Governor paused and then spoke sadly of the political in-fighting that was sadly evident between the different Imperial organisations preparing for battle, with the Admiral of the Fleet and the Imperial Guard General particularly wanting to pursue different strategic options.
Castagir nodded and spoke quietly; "Governor. Ultimately you are responsible for this sub-sector and the defences, are you not?"
There was a sigh, and the Governor nodded, subconsciously rubbing at the hideous burn scars that disfigured his face.
Castagir frowned with concern, before continuing; "Then rein them in, threaten to replace them, appeal to their sense of duty to the Emperor. You are the word of the Emperor here; do not let them forget that!" Kaffiq smiled grimly, nodding, and the Astartes spoke again, his voice softer. "Your scars. Do they still give you pain?"
"My scars?" Kaffiq asked, surprised. Then he realised he was rubbing his face and self consciously dropped his hand to his side, and paused, remembering the failed assassination attempt that had disfigured him; an attempt that had failed because of the actions of the then Interrogator Atellus, his cadre of acolytes, and Brother Castagir. "Not so much, but I welcome the pain, it reminds me that I must remain vigilant, and that a price comes with the power I wield." He paused again and looked up at the Marine. "And a few scars, that is a minor price indeed compared with what saving my life cost you…” He paused, and then continued. “The Daemon, you-"
Castagir interrupted; "That is in the past Governor, and is best forgotten." Kaffiq grunted, and Castagir smiled. "I should be returning to the ship. We leave for Meltorn soon."
The governor nodded. "Returning to your Chapt... To the Hell Bringers home-system will be difficult for you won't it? I was kept informed of what happened..." Kaffic glaced and the pauldron of Castagirs’ armour, which was plain black where a Deathwatch Marine would normally display his Chapter insignia.
"It will be no more difficult than any other duty." Castagir shrugged. "And had events not passed in the way they did, then it is doubtful that I would be in a position to fight the xenos with the knowledge and experience that I now have. The Emperor has willed it so, the Primarch watches over me, and I have done my duty. I cannot ask for more."
The two man grasped forearms in a warrior handshake, and Governor Kaffiq spoke in to his vox bead, ordering the commanders of all the forces assemble in his briefing room on the hour. Brother Castagir smiled at the iron in his voice, and the Governor smiled. "Do you remember Major Locke?" The Marine nodded. "The Ordos Xenos have been using the mans uncanny knack of surviving the Tyranids - he served on the Eastern Fringes I understand - anyway, he wishes to speak with you before you leave..."
Major Vincent Locke was waiting by the guncutter on the landing pad, and after nodding a greeting, Castagir again outlined the data that the recent encounters with the Tyranids had revealed. The Major thanked him, and then spoke of a technique to combat them which his patron Inquisitor had used to good effect in their previous encounters with the xenos; fight to defend a world, but as soon as the Tyranids had landed enough force to make it a lost cause, fight a withdrawing action, and let them expend their energies suppressing the local flora and fauna, and then, before they could begin harvesting the resources launch exterminatus. That way the creatures gained no benefit for all the biomass expended, and the hive fleet was weakened and slowed.
Castagir nodded his understanding, but it was clear that neither man particularly liked the idea of sacrifice worlds just to slow an enemy.
Major Locke shrugged; "Desperate times call for desperate measures Brother Castagir..."
The Battle Brother nodded. "May the Emperor watch over you, and this world Major Locke." The shook hands and Castagir turned and strode to the waiting guncutter.
Rogue Trader Hartek was no longer wearing his Dynasty uniform, and aside from his small stature looked unremarkable in plain workers clothes, so he attracted little interest as he headed away from the central spires of Malfi and found himself outside a familiar, small restaurant. He made to walk straight in, and was satisfied when the security on the doors stepped aside smiling widely, calling out to the people inside. "Boss! Boss! That little guy, the Rogue Trader who's looking after Mr Antonio is back!"
Hartek paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the gloom as he entered, and sitting at the same table as the last time they met, several years previously was Don Mario Fenducci.
The Don stood, smiling and opened his arms to embrace Hartek, then gestured towards a seat.
Hartek sat, and spoke; "I bid you good-day Don Mario!"
A pleasure to see you Rogue Trader!"
"Ah. Yes, I see you've heard of my promotion..." Hartek smiled widely.
Don Mario nodded. "I've been watching the fortunes of your house carefully. And have benefitted greatly from the goods you send my way. I have heard many things about you!"
"Most of them aren't true, I assure you!" Hartek's smile grew wider.
Don Mario laughed appreciatively. "How's my boy doing?"
Serious now, Hartek met Don Mario's eye. "The boy has gone. There's a man there now. He has served loyally and bravely, and has been by my side during the worst of times, and I have ensured he has learnt all of the lessons he needs to fulfil all of his duties."
"Excellent." Don Mario nodded. "Very good indeed. You have my thanks. A toast!" He poured two glasses of finest amasec, and shouted to the barman; "Get the special stuff out!"
The barman brought a small carafe of golden liquid, and added a few drops to both drinks. The two men raised their glasses and Hartek spoke; "Confusion to our enemies!"
Both men downed their drinks, and the Rogue Trader smiled widely as he recognised the enhancing effects of the juice of the Hartek fruit that had been added.
"That's travelled well!" Hartek, nodded his thanks.
Don Mario smiled again. "Yes! It's become quite popular with the rich and the nobility... I hear you have quite the strangle-hold on it!"
"It does help to be the only trader who knows the source..." Hartek agreed.
"Indeed... Our association has been good... And business is only improving; the panic about the xenos certainly helps...!"
"You're not concerned?" Hartek asked.
"Me? No... Not at all... We are well defended, and I now own significant portions of several of the major spires. People will panic sell at the slightest hint of doom! I have invested in the future - I'm going to go legit. Mostly."
Hartek outlined his plans to go to the aid of Meltorn, and Don Mario whistled in admiration. "I heard that those Astartes still there were as good as dead..."
"Some would say they always were, bred for war as they are. But I have a debt to pay, and in my experience they are more resilient than even the vids would have you believe..."
"Ah... I approve of men that honour their debts...!" Don Mario chuckled, and Hartek joined him in the laughter.
"Even so," Hartek continued; "Should the worst happen, my successor will require the same support you have given me, and I want you to know that from the perspective of House Dureen, all agreements will remain in place."
Don Mario, face serious spoke again. "That is good to know Rogue Trader. And anything you, or your successor needs, House Dureen needs only to ask."
The conversation drifted on for several minutes more, then Hartek took his leave and returned to the guncutter, to find Brother Castagir waiting patiently inside. The two men sat in silence, each consumed in their own thoughts as the craft powered out of the atmosphere and returned to His Undying Will.
Just prior to leaving Malfi orbit, the Squats aboard the venerable Grifner's Hammer requested that a Command Liaison Officer be allowed aboard His Undying Will to help co-ordinate their actions. Hartek readily agreed, and the next day a shuttle docked, and Gartek Fiendhammer stepped onto the deck of the launch bay, bellowing his greetings to the Rogue Trader.
"Ahhhh! Kilgrim me boy! How fare ye? I've brought some fine squat ale with me so you don't have to drink the piss the manlings like!"
Behind him, Hartek could see a number of Squats wearing exoskeleton loader suits moving large silver barrels. Suddenly, his attention was caught by one particular Squat, and with a start her realised it was the female he had seen being beaten in the vid-broadcast when the servants of the Ruinous Powers had been attacking the Squats old home-world. His attention was so focussed on her that he barely registered the words that Gartek continued to bellow in his direction.
Suddemly the older Squat stopped talking, and glanced in the direction of Hartek's gaze; "What? Kilgrim? Kilgrim? Oooohh... I see now... You horny little bugger!" Gartek grinned. "Don't forget, you're just a pup compared to some of us, and Squat women, well when they choose a mate, they generally go for experience!" He paused. "And why are you blushing...?"
"I saw her on the vid-screen, the Chaos scum were beating her. I thought she was dead!" Hartek blurted.
"Oh. Well, I'm not sure of her past..." Gartek shrugged. "We've found a number of our women on the ship during the journey. It looks like they sneaked on and hid before we left, and it was too late to take them back. As for that one, all I know is she refused to be left out of liaison group. It was simpler to let her have her own way. If you're looking over there, you've no idea of the trouble you're going to get yourself in! Helga has a temper on her they say, and a good right hook...! Squat women can be stubborn, and she's worse than any other I've met..."
Hartek, eyes still fixed on Helga, asked "Does she already have a mate?"
"I heard she scared the last one away!" Gartek laughed, slapping Kilgrim on his back. "Anyway, let’s go and have a beer!" Gartek steered the unresisting Rogue Trader out of the landing bay, their path taking them past Helga in her exoskeleton loader. As she turned to watch them, both men had to take avoiding action as the lifter arm nearly knocked them down.
"Gartek!" She shouted. "Get out o’ the way ye idiot!"
The older Squat glanced at Hartek and raised an eyebrow, and quietly muttered "Fiery...!" Just loud enough for Kilgrim to hear.
The journey to the Meltorn system was uneventful, although the Astropaths and Psykers on board complained of the shadow on the warp that the Hive Fleet was casting. The journey was consumed with last minute preparations and training, and Inquisitor Atellus spent the journey closeted with the Tech-Priests working on the xenotech "secret weapon". Most of the officers and crew were glad that he was occupied, and not spending his time watching them.
As the House Dureen fleet translated from the warp back into real-space, a half dressed Helga stormed out of Hartek's private quarters, turned, shouted "Idiot!" and reached for a vase which she to hurled at Harteks' head. The Rogue Trader, ducked to avoid the ceramic missile and smiled, muttering "Fiery!" to himself. The cabin door slammed and his grin got wider as he got dressed.
Hartek was called to the bridge as the ships were challenged by outlying piquet vessels, and then given leave to approach the central system, and he spent some time going over the data package provided on the system.
+ + Data-pack Alpha-78923-01, The Meltorn System, Malfian Subsector, Calixis Sector. Prepared for Rogue Trader Kilgrim Hartek.
My Lord Hartek,
Within this data-slate is the information summary of the worlds of the Meltorn System in the Malfian Subsector.
Meltorn, the home system of the Hell Bringers Adeptus Astartes Chapter is centred on a Binary Star, and consisted of seven major planets.
• Meltorn Eis: Closest to the star and designated as a Feral World. A Desert planet, and the harsh conditions which the population has had to adapt to makes it an ideal recruitment sources for the Hell Bringers. The population long ago regressed to primal savagery, after a long period of isolation. The technological level remains pre-black powder, and the population consists of hunter-gatherer societies using primitive tools and weapons, and in almost all cases human culture is based around the interactions of various tribes, and the societies tend to follow the ancient Terran desert nomad traditions. The planetary population stands at around 4,800,000
• Meltorn Dis: A jungle covered Death World, where the native flora and fauna has evolved into naturally aggressive and dangerous forms. These eco-systems are finely balanced between continual destruction and lightning-fast reproduction, which, as with Eis, presents harsh conditions which makes it an ideal recruitment sources for the Hell Bringers. The technology of the planet stands at around the Iron Age level, and once again, the population consists of hunter-gatherer societies using primitive tools and weapons, and in almost all cases human culture is based around the interactions of various tribes. In this case, they fight to co-exist with the deadly jungle creatures, which live among the kilometre high trees. The tribesmen on this planet tend to tattoo themselves to mark milestones in their lives, with the most significant events warranting facial tattoos. Dotted around the planet are a number of bio-research stations, seeking to learn some of the secrets of highly aggressive life forms native to Meltorn Dis, and perhaps utilise them in the struggle against the enemies of the Emperor. The planetary population is around 8,500,000
• Meltorn Tria: An Agri-World, devoted to food production, Meltorn Tria is also the home base of the Hell Bringers Chapter of the Holy Astartes. The majority of its surface is given over to producing food. The planet is unusual in that there are a number of larger settlements, and a small amount of industry. All of the development is in direct relation to, and support of Chapter activities, as is the majority of the high-technology infrastructure. Food production is much higher than the norm; it appears that the different light frequencies produced by the systems two suns, promote rapid crop growth, with Meltorn Tria providing as many as five harvests a solar year. The population levels are much higher than an average Agri-World, standing at around 12,000,000, discounting the Astartes themselves. The weather is generally temperate and hospitable, and the planet is lacking the more aggressive wildlife of the others in the system, whether due to a quirk of biology, or because of eradication efforts, is unclear.
• Meltorn Tetra: An ocean planet, that it could be argued, like Tria, is also an Agri-World. Weather cycles are similar to Tria although the average temperatures a lower. Indigenous technology levels are non-existent, as the planet surface is completed submerged, so there is no population. There are, however, a number of huge floating, fishing platforms on the surface taking advantage of the abundance of sea life. This results in a population of around 100,000 with a modern technology level.
• Meltorn Penta: Penta is a strange planet, there is no atmosphere, and surface is covered by extinct volcanoes, which rise out of a sea of solid, crystalline rocks. There is no natural life, but it was discovered that when refined the crystalline rocks provide very high quality power crystals for Imperial laser technology, and, also can be converted to very tough, very strong, transparent sheets ideal for use as armour-glass. Accordingly there are a number of small refineries dotted around the planet surface, and around 200,000 miners and workers living there, usually inside the hollowed out volcanoes. These volcano-homes have been nicknames "ant-hives" by the workers, because of the similarities to naturally created ant-hills, and man-made hive-spires present on Imperial Hive Worlds.
• Meltorn Hex: A Forge World, run by the Hell Bringers Master of the Forges, Mikkel Damasene in conjunction with the Adeptus Mechanicus. The planet is totally devoted to industry and has close links to the Cult Mechanicus. The majority of a forge-world's solid ground surface is covered in thousands of years of built-up, massive industrial complexes: great machine factories, production centres, huge volcanic furnaces, sky-scraping chimney vents, abyss-like quarries and great workshop-fortresses. The Hell Bringers Fleet shipyards and repair docks are in orbit around this planet. The result of the planet's complete industrialization means its ecosystem has been completely destroyed. The air is saturated with toxic gases and rivers flow with toxic run-off from factories. In many cases, even seas and oceans have been dried up to make room for more factories. Present on Meltorn Hex are a number of legions of Skitarii, the Mechanicus's cybernetically-enhanced soldiers, who also serve as the forge worlds' military forces, and on occasion train alongside the system PDF's and the Hell Bringers themselves. The planetary population stands at around 2,700,000,000
• Meltorn Hepta: A Feral World, with a snow and ice covered surface. As with Eis and Dis, the harsh conditions make it an ideal recruitment sources for the Hell Bringers. The planet is constantly in winter, the temperature drops so low people can freeze solid in a matter of hours. There are oceans, but these are permanently frozen, so for all intents and purposes it is permanently land-locked. The population is one of largely nomadic barbarian tribes, constantly seeking to secure territory as they follow prey herds around the surface. As a result skirmishes and feuds over land between rival tribes are common. The people are hardened to the changes in temperature and extremes, and so is the fauna. The technological level remains pre-black powder, and there are a number of tribal traditions, all with a common theme, where warriors prove their prowess by killing and skinning the largest, fiercest predator, in this case the Hepta Ice Bear, and then wear a part of that pelt in the belief that the creatures fierceness becomes their own. The planetary population stands at around 3,200,000
My Lord, I hereby conclude my summary.
For the Glory of House Dureen and the Imperium, and in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. + +
As the Dureen Fleet moved in-system, His Undying Will was hailed by the Aegis, and Hartek grinned as the holo-tank was filled with an image of Captain Locke. Her eyes seemed to twinkle as she spoke; "Ahh... Nice of you to join us Rogue Trader!"
"Well, I was reminded of a certain Captain who made a habit of not being where she was supposed to be..." Locke's icy feature broke into a small smile, as Hartek spoke. "Anyway, it seemed only fair to return the favour...!"
"I would be lying if I said that we weren't glad to see you. If you'd like to bring your fleet-" Locke paused, looking at the returns on the sensorium just out of range of the narrow holo-view, and her face twitched with a slight smile again. "Yes, if you'd like to bring your fleet into orbit around Meltorn Tria, we can plan to get it integrated with the rest of the defence. Also, the Chapter Master of the Hell Bringers has stated that he would like to meet you..."
Hartek paused. "Of course Captain, it would be my honour. We will contact you again as soon as we are in position."
Over a week and no comments? Gee whillakers, Mr Arvn. I guess nobody wants to hear how our little game of lets-pretend finished, after all!
we are waiting for the end!
Suffer not the rule Lawyers just enjoy your self!!! - Slaneesh Acolyte
I will infect you with my views!!! - Nurgle Rule Lawyer
Oups... I must have read it wrong, was it not like that before? Anyway doesn't mean all those game you lost are now forfeeted... - Tzench Liar
BECAUSE IT CAN'T HAPPEN!!!!!! The book says so!!! I hate you all, I quit this shit. - Khorne rule gardian and whinner!
Well Crisarion and I are hanging in here. I was going to wait for the 'final episode' complete before commenting, but your lack of faith in your fans has forced me to say...
I've been reading this for a long time guys, House Dureen has been has been a highlight of these forums for me and I've always looked forward to the next installamnent. I'm not sure why you don't seem to have a bigger audience because this has been, well, I said it already, awesome.
Idolatry is worse than carnage.
Charater sheets. Yes.
I would very much like to see the character sheets. Any plans to post them here?
Idolatry is worse than carnage.
It's just like commenting a movie just before the conclusion ... you don't comment before you see THE END somewhere :P
It's just like commenting a movie just before the conclusion ... you don't comment before you see THE END somewhere :P
...except perhaps to lean over and whisper "AWESOME!"
Idolatry is worse than carnage.
Thanks for all the kind words, life overtook me again and I didnt have the chance to post the last part sooner.
I hope you all enjoy the conclusion to our campaign and I must say as the gm ive had a blast running the game and would like to thank all the players and loyal fans/fellow gm's/players for sticking with the game.
Finally, a special shout out goes to Lord Spatula, who's excellent session reports have allowed the rest of you to enjoy the game.
Segment taken from the official history of the Dureen Rogue Trader Dynasty
Location: Meltorn Tria, Meltorn System, The Malfian Subsector, The Calixis Sector
The Command Staff of the Dureen Dynasty and the Captains of the Ships of the Fleet, along with a small honour guard, descended to the surface of Meltorn Tria, and on the flight got their first clear view of an Astartes home-world.
The capital city of the planet surrounded the Fortress Monastery of the Hell Bringers, and it was spectacular. It was raised on high plateau and was built as a fortress into the side of a huge mountain; high walls bristling with defensive emplacements surrounded the elegant towers and spires which reached into the clear air of the world, and although there was delineation between the Fortress Monastery at the heart of the city, it was clearly integrated into the normal human city. Overall, an impression of order, efficiency and modernity was engendered in the eyes of those looking, something that was rare in other Imperial settlements that they had journeyed to.
Waiting for them at the spaceport were a number of functional, well made transports, and a smartly dressed human guide for each vehicle.
The road from the spaceport to the city was flanked by huge marble statues of past leaders and persons of note; the majority were obviously Astartes, some wearing ancient marks of power-armour, however, surprisingly there were a number of ordinary humans granted the honour of a position on the avenue of statues. The route took them past fields were the population was at work gathering the harvest, and some of the group were shocked to see a number of giant figures of what could only be Space Marines helping in the labour. As they entered the city, the visitors could see that a proud history that spread over several millennia was obvious; shrines to fallen warriors were evident, and the achievements of non-Astartes celebrated in a similar grand fashion. Strangely, however, there were a number of areas where damage that looked to be relative recent and as a result of battle was evident, although repair work seemed to be well in hand.
Throughout the journey while the others absorbed the sights and sounds of their surroundings, Brother Castagir kept his gaze firmly ahead, and a strange tension seemed to emanate from his rigid form.
Soon, the vehicles passed through an inner gate, and stopped deep within the boundaries of the Fortress Monastery itself. As they disembarked, the visitors were greeted by a number of human dignitaries, flanked by a pair of Astartes, wearing their distinctive power-armour. The colour scheme was unusual, being predominantly yellow, but with patches of orange, deep reds and browns, giving the impression to those looking at the warriors that they were clad in the flames of a furnace.
One of the humans stepped forward, and greeted the "honoured guests", and invited them to follow him deeper into the citadel, which the group did, viewing their surroundings with increasing awe; the architecture was designed with the size of an Astartes in mind, so the high arches and wide passages dwarfed the non-Space Marines even more than Imperial architecture normally did. Statues of ancient heroes stood in alcoves, and banners depicting great victories hung hundreds of metres from domed ceilings to marbled floors. Ancient weapons and trophies of battles adorned pedestals, and inscriptions to the Emperor were illuminated on marble panels. As they moved down the corridors, they passed a number of Space Marines, some armoured, some wearing robes. Several spared the visitors a glance, but all seemed unsurprised by their presence.
Finally, they were led through two massive doors into a huge main chamber, it was vast, perhaps half a kilometre square, and looked like it could hold an entire army, and felt like it probably had done at least once over the years. The visitors crossed the room, and were led towards a raised dais, on which a huge plain, chair stood; it looked like it was hewn from the local rock. Its very ordinariness and lack of ornamentation seemed incongruous given the surroundings, but sitting on it, and flanked by three other Astartes was a figure that could only be the Chapter Master.
The Chapter Master had the bulk common to the Astartes, and his hair was dark, but closely cropped. His face was scarred and weather beaten, and embedded in his forehead were five gold studs. He watched the visitors carefully as they were led towards him. To his left the other Space Marines were talking in low voices; one was encased in black armour, with his helmet in the form of a skull, a second was clad in blue armour, and his helmet was missing, although a hood of fine cables and ceramite covered his exposed head. The third figure was not wearing the full battle-plate that the others wore, instead was clad in lighter armour that seemed to shift in colour as it attempted to match that of his surroundings. He was smaller than the others, but seemed older than all save the Chapter Master, and as he turned to watch the visitors, particularly seeming to focus on the Deathwatch Marine, four gold studs could be seen embedded in his forehead. The others noticed him watching the visitors, and they too turned to face them, the conversation coming to a halt.
The Chapter Master stood, and nodded to the visitors’ guides, who bowed, and left the chamber. As the guests watched them go they saw an Astartes warrior clad in ancient battle-plate and holding a pole-arm style weapon standing as still as a statute in each corner of the room, obviously acting as an honour guard.
With a deep, booming voice the Chapter Master spoke; "Welcome, allies and guests. I am Chapter Master Angrim Phoenix of the Hell Bringers. Please feel the welcome of my hall."
Rogue Trader Hartek stepped forward, and raised his voice in reply. "Well met Chapter Master. House Dureen greets you and comes in fellowship to stand beside you in your hour of need."
Chapter Master Phoenix gazed down at Hartek and spoke, with a grave tone evident in his voice. "Your aid is welcomed with open arms Rogue Trader. This is a dire time for my Chapter, this world and the system." He paused to let his words sink in, and then asked. "Forgive my bluntness, but what brought you here, when all other Rogue Traders chose to stay and defend Malfi?"
"Fate, I think." Hartek shrugged, and glanced at Brother Castagir.
Phoenix barked a laugh. "As good an answer as any, I think!" He turned an indicated the figures standing to his left. "These are my advisors. Chief Librarian Niall Benjamin." The blue armoured figure nodded a greeting. "The Master of the Tenth Company, and Master of my Scouts, Brother Captain Jonas Nightingale." The smaller, more lightly armoured figure grinned cheerily. "And finally, Chaplain Confessor Tobermory." The skull helm fixed its gaze on the group of visitors.
Hartek nodded, and in return introduced those who made up the officers of the Dynasty, who offered their own greetings when indicated. The Rogue Trader turned to Castagir who began to remove his helmet. "Finally, on detached duty from the Deathwatch may I introduce Brother Castagir who has been our military advisor for the last few years."
Brother Castagir, now helmetless turned to face the Hell Bringers officers. Chaplain Confessor Tobermory glared at Castagir, anger obvious in the tenseness of his stance, and the Deathwatch Marine met the impassive gaze of the skull helm evenly, before turning and saluting Chapter Master Phoenix.
"Brother Castagir. What a surprise!" The Chapter Master returned the salute.
Despite the tension that was evident, Castagir's tone was relaxed. "Chapter Master, I doubt very much that my presence is a surprise to you..."
Phoenix smiled; "Indeed. Let us just say that the brave..." The Librarian laughed, and the Chapter Master paused a second; "...Inquisitor warned me of your presence. Anyway, enough of this let us be about our work."
Phoenix turned back to Hartek. "Rogue Trader, if you and your staff would like to accompany me to War Rooms. We need to discuss our plans and see what we can do to defend this system."
Hartek and Ivanov joined the Chapter Master, several other Space Marines representatives of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Imperial Navy and the Planetary Defence Forces in an ante-chamber. As the Chapter Master entered the room fell silent, and he stood at the head of a huge holo-tank, waiting for the others to take their places, and then he spoke. "All those that have gathered here today to help is in our time of need, you have the thanks of my Chapter. Know that we do not forget, and the friendships forged here in this storm of fire will last longer than the years of our lives." He stopped, and met the eye of every individual present be for speaking again. "So what do we have?"
Deployments were discussed, with current dispositions of troops shared with those Commanders present, and when field commands were discussed it was clear that the control of the battle as a whole, and command of the ground forces would fall to Chapter Master Phoenix, however, as the majority of the Hell Bringers Chapter Fleet was at Malfi, along with its' command, the discussion turned to who would command the Naval forces. Phoenix freely admitted that although over his centuries of service he had fought void-battles, there were others more qualified to effectively fight the enemy in space, and Hartek immediately suggested Captain Locke for the Fleet Command.
Immediately, a Naval Officer commanding the civilian flotilla spoke up. "With all due respect, Captain Locke has been given strict instructions not to take any command beyond the Aegis, my Lords."
Hartek nodded slowly. "Very well. In that case, as the leader of the most powerful single force here, after the remaining Astartes ships, I will take command." A feral smile crossed his face as the Naval representatives nodded their agreement; they had all seen the after action reports of the many Dureen void-actions, and once the agreement had been secured Hartek spoke once more. "Captain Locke. Would you care to view the battle from my Flag Bridge? And I can assure you that any insights you would be able to provide supporting MY command would be most welcome...!"
The group of Naval Captains looked uncomfortable, and obviously opinion was split, several seeming to sympathise with Hartek's tactic.
A quickly suppressed smile flashed across Locke's face; "Thank-you Rogue Trader. I could, but then I would have to leave the Captaincy of my ship, and at this time I am not sure that a command change is the best course of action. I will, of course, offer any advice you require from the Aegis, as you command..." She paused, and then spoke bothering to hide the smile this time; "...My Lord Admiral."
Hartek smiled in appreciation, and then Captain Locke turned her gaze in the direction of Lieutenant Commander Ivanov, an unusually warm smile on her face, and continued. "In any case, Admiral, I believe that there is someone on your own staff who is more than capable of controlling the fleet and advising your command..."
There was a snort of laughter from the Rogue Trader, who leaned forward. "If any of us survive this, Captain Locke, that offer of a Command Throne within House Dureen still stands...!" He sat back again. "Very well. Mister Ivanov. It looks like you have the job of running Fleet operations...!"
Ivanov stood and bowed. "Rogue Trader, Chapter Master. It would be my honour."
Chapter Master Phoenix had held his silence until now, but finally chose to speak "Now, we have the matter of the Inquisitors' xenotech device..." A faint look of distaste was evident on his face.
Discussions regarding the deployment of the device consumed the next hour, and the Tech-Adepts delivered the unwelcome news that for it to be transported via teleportarium a number of modifications would need to be made to the archaeotech device rendering it useless for any other task until it was returned to its previous state. Still, a plan was formulated which involved teleporting the xenos-device and then getting it to auto-anchor using harpoons built into a base to anchor itself to the Tyranid vessel before activating. The decision was made to modify the teleportarium on board the Furnace of Redemption, leaving those few Astartes Vessels with similar devices free to rapidly redeploy troops as necessary. It was felt that the Frigate was best suited to closing with the enemy, and importantly, had a better chance to escape afterwards, so Hartek ordered the changes made.
The minutiae of the command structure and preparations for battle followed, and took the rest of the day, but there was little further disagreement, all present embracing their common cause with professionalism and focus; very little was left to do other than wait for the arrival of the xenos.
Brother Castagir had headed to one of the Hell Bringers training areas, and, ignoring the fact that a number of the Hell Bringers Astartes who were present left as he arrived, settled down into a series of katas and routines designed to hone his already impressive combat abilities. At a loss for anything else to do Major Kimenth followed at a distance, intrigued by the reactions of the Hell Bringers to the Deathwatch Battle Brother, and she settled down on a viewing gantry to watch Castagir train. She found that she was not alone with her interest, as below her were a knot of other Space Marines, obviously in heated discussion. She shifted position so she could better listen to their words.
"...he was banished - and should have been executed and should not be allowed back!" One voice declared.
Another answered; "Yet the Chapter Master welcomes him, as do the Deathwatch. All of us aspire to serve with the Deathwatch. He was declared free of taint by a Daemonhunter of the Ordos Malleaus, and by our own Chief Librarian. Brothers, who are we to doubt their word?"
A third voice argued. "He broke the strictures of the Chapter. We know that if we step beyond those, ruination and damnation will follow..."
The second voice responded. "And yet he saved the life of the Sub-Sector Governor and prevented a power struggle on Malfi. He did what others could not do, and sacrificed himself for the safety of others, and for the good of the Imperium. Is that not what we have sworn to do?"
"Enough!" The first voice barked. "He allowed himself to be possessed. A daemon. A representative of the Great Enemy took possession of his form! That cannot be justified, no matter the reasons!"
The second voice responded. "And yet he was declared free of taint. I would only hope I would have the courage to show his strength, and then when rejected by those he called Brother, to continue his service to the Primarch and the Emperor unabated. I admire him, and I pity him..."
Several voices could be heard grunting, some in agreement, others not, when the third voice was raised again; "Careful Brothers! You speak of Heresy, and we all know where that leads!"
Suddenly, Kimenth heard a heavy tread behind her, and turned to see the smiling face of the Hell Bringers Chief Librarian, Niall Benjamin. She quickly sat back and focussed on Brother Castagir again, as he cut through a number of combat drones that seemed programmed to attack from random angles and at unnatural speed.
Benjamin stepped to the edge of the viewing gantry, and his deep voice boomed out; "All of which is very interesting Brothers..."
The voices below cut off sharply and she heard the third voice speak again. "Apologies, My Lord Librarian. We were simply discussing-"
"I heard what you were discussing Brothers." The Chief Librarians' voice was infused with authority. "But is not for any of us to question the word of the Chapter Master." He looked at each of the Space Marines in turn. "The xenos are nearly upon us, and you stand gossiping like the wives of the human farmers. Be about your duties and prepare to receive them!"
A chorus of apologies and acknowledgements followed, and Major Kimenth heard the group of Astartes walk away, silent except for the tread of their feet.
The Librarian turned back to the Major, and fixed her with a stare of his piercing eyes. She paused, and then stood, but the huge man gestured for her to sit once again. Nodding, she did so, and then he sat alongside her, both their attention focussed on the Deathwatch Marine still working through his drills.
After a few seconds the Librarian spoke, his voice quieter, less harsh, than it had been. "He has grown stronger, faster, than when I last met him... You have fought alongside him."
It was a statement, not a question, but the Major answered anyway. " I have My Lord. On several occasions. I once saw him destroy a Titan..."
The Librarian smiled. "Yes. We all have read that report." Kimenth looked at him with surprise. "The Inquisition have kept us informed of his movements. It was one of the concessions they were forced to make when we... released... him to them." He sighed. "The Chapter Master has had several Brothers request permission to challenge him to an honour duel. To the death." He glanced at the Major whose expression had changed to one of shock. "He has refused point blank, all such requests."
Kimenth held the Librarians' gaze; "Brother Castagir is a very capable warrior, and I believe he would take the risk if he felt it would help clear the air. With all due respect, I don't believe he needs the protection, Sir."
The Chief Librarian laughed. "Major, the duels were not denied to protect Castagir! Like I said we have received the reports of his actions. Our Chapter can ill afford to lose Battle Brothers at this time, and believe me, few in the Chapter could stand before him. Certainly none of those who were rash enough to request the challenge..." He sighed, his attention back on the Deathwatch Marine, still training hard. "Such a waste for the Chapter... He had- has, such potential... Still, you now know how divisive his presence is, and particularly after recent events we cannot risk that..."
Kimenth looked at a loss for something to say, so stayed silent.
The Librarian stood, and turned to leave. "Our Chapter owes House Dureen a great debt, and we do not forget those who stand with us. Thank you." He began to walk away, and then turned to face the Major again. "Tell Brother Castagir that I have not forgotten what he has sacrificed for the good of the Chapter."
"I will, My Lord."
The Librarian smiled, "Thank you Miss Kelter." And left.
The Major was so wrapped up pondering the things she had just heard, that it was several minutes before she realised which name the Chief Librarian had just used.
As many of the standing population of the worlds under threat were evacuated to the Capital World, leaving only fighting troops and militias behind, although the most pessimistic of the evacuees seemed to believe that this relocation would only serve to delay their destruction under the chitinous waves of Tyranid creatures. The days passed and were filled with constant drilling, both of ships and ground forces, and the experience gained by House Dureen fighting the xenos was disseminated amongst Astartes, Mechanicus and human troops, although it was noticeable that the Hell Bringers shunned the company of Brother Castagir and his role developed into that of a tactical leader of the non-Astartes forces on the worlds of the system. If he noticed, or was worried by the coldness he was shown by his former Brothers, he did not let it show, although many of the PDF Officers and soldiers silently took offence on his behalf; they had warmed to him, impressed that he saw his role as vital to the defence of the system, thankful of the experience he was passing on, and pleased by the genuine concern that Castagir expressed in their wellbeing, particularly insisting that they knew of their extraction zones, and the time that they would have to reach them from their defensive positions. They took to referring to the Deathwatch Marine as "Our Battle Brother" and whole formations took to painting small patches of black onto their armour to match the colour of Castagir's battle plate.
Part way though the following week Tyranid vanguard ships were detected entering the system, and the fleet took their opportunity to destroy as many as possible with massed firepower, before dropping back, regrouping and repeating the process. After action analysis suggested that ten of the escort class and three cruiser sized bio-ships were destroyed and no losses were suffered in return.
The enemy grew in numbers as the hive fleet began to arrive en masse, and the defenders were forced back, inflicting losses as the fell back until a huge Tyranid vessel gained orbit of Meltorn Hepta, and the assault on the world began. On the ground resistance was fierce, and well organised, with the soldiers falling back to a plan, and losses were remarkably light, even so thousands died. Brother Castagir led a small team of the best warriors, engaging and destroying as many of the larger synapse creatures as he could, and transported around the world by a flight of House Dureen guncutters, the team made their presence felt, finding the knack of intervening in locations where the fighting was most fierce, and the defence was most in the balance. Indeed, when the withdrawal order was given, Brother Castagir was the last to leave the world, much to the discomfort of the crew of his guncutter.
As soon as he cleared orbit, the Astartes vessels transferred an Exterminatus weapon to the Furnace of Redemption, which edged through the defensive picket, and launched, before sprinting clear. Within hours, all life on the planet had ceased to exist, leaving only a barren, scrubbed rock with an atmosphere that had been scorched away. For those in the fleet who had never witnessed the death of a world, it was a sobering sight, but as an Astartes Captain pointed out, "The Tyranids gained nothing from us here, and it cost them much. It is a victory. A terrible one, but a victory non-the-less."
Major Kimenth had paused from drilling the ship-board troops, and watched the destruction from orbit. "I never thought watching planets die would become a regular occurrence..." She found herself whispering.
"Pardon Ma'am?" She had forgotten the Sergeant standing at her shoulder, and snapped her attention back to the task at hand. "Nothing Sergeant. Squad Theta were sloppy clearing that last chamber. If any Tyranids had been present they'd've cut us to pieces. Run the drill again."
The Sergeant nodded; "Yes Major!" She turned away and began shouting at the unfortunate Squad Theta leaving Kimenth to her thoughts.
As the fleet pulled away from the ruined planet they scanned the enemy fleet, but there was still no sign of the main Hive Ship, so they set themselves into a defensive line screening the next world in the system, Meltorn Hex. The Tyranids had become more cautious, and skirmished carefully as they approached the defensive fleet, and Ivanov requested that the Sword of Justice an Astartes Rapid Strike Vessel based on a Sword Class Frigate hull go stealthy and attempt to scout the location of the enemy hive ship. The Captain acknowledged the request, and his ship curved gracefully away from the fleet rapidly building speed before disappearing from the sensorium screens.
The Tyranids tactics had changed, and they moved to overwhelm smaller sections of the fleet, forcing them back quickly and dispersing their bio-spores into the atmosphere. Four of the armed civilian ships, and a naval escort fell to the xenos as they broke the line. Once again, Brother Castagir deployed to the surface with his hunter team, and this time Rogue Trader Hartek and Major Kimenth accompanied him through the polluted atmosphere of the Forge World. It appeared that Hartek's relationship with Helga was in one of its more fiery phases and he had elected to face the Tyranid swarm "to get some peace and quiet..."
Once again, the defence was well organised, but this time the Tyranids rapid deployment had caught the defenders on the back foot, and the Adeptus Mechanicus forces suffered greatly; hundreds of thousands died in the first few days. Some semblance of order was reached as the defenders were forced back into a smaller cordon, and it was there that the House Dureen officers and Brother Castagir added their strength to the defence, with Hartek, Kimenth, and her dedicated specialist storm-troopers, controlling and instilling a strength of will in the defence that had been missing from the early days. Once again, Castagir hunted the synapse creatures, often destroying them in full view of the defenders, bolstering morale as he did so.
In orbit, the fleet rallied from its earlier setbacks, and the xenos suffered, losing significant numbers of bio-ships to the defenders as the tactics changed again; seven Cruiser class and twenty-nine escort class bio-ships fell to gun, lance, torpedo, and air strike. The armed civilian ships took the brunt of the Imperial losses with ten being destroyed, as was one of the Aegis's sister Light Cruisers and two escorts that had valiantly attempt to screen them as they withdrew. Two Astartes Rapid Strike Vessels that had heroically powered forward to cover the retreat of the fleet as it disengaged were also lost; their sacrifice was not in vain as a co-ordinated and orderly withdrawal was enacted, thanks to the extra time that had been bought with the blood of the fallen. There was still no sign of the Hive Ship, but at least the route inbound had been confirmed as the hive fleet streamed further into the system.
The ground extraction went smoothly as swarms of xenos rolled through the defenders, but was bloodier and closer than the extraction from Hepta. Once again, Brother Castagir was the last to leave the world, and once again, Major Kimenth found herself watching a world burn from orbit as the ships fell back to defend Meltorn Penta. This time, however, the strategic impact of the loss was huge; with the loss of the Forge World, rearming and re-equipping troops would be more difficult, and the defenders would need to rely on the mega-tonnes of stockpiled equipment on the surviving worlds of the system.
As the small population of Meltorn Penta had already been evacuated and the planet was effectively a dead world already, it was decided that it would only be loosely defended. The orders given to the Fleet changed from the dogged holding of the line to rapid hit and fade strikes. The hope was to offer some tactical surprise to the Tyranids and mean that the Hive Mind would not become accustomed to a single strategy. The plan was effective and heavy losses were inflicted on the xenos with sixteen escort class vessels and six cruiser class bio-ships destroyed, but nine of the armed civilian ships and another of the Naval Cruisers were lost to the guns of the enemy. Of her Squadron, only Captain Locke's Aegis now survived. The House Dureen Cobra Class Destroy, the Aelinos Eternus was lost attempting to support the Naval Cruiser.
As the defenders regrouped around the ocean world of Meltorn Tetra, a data-burst message was received on the bridge of the House Dureen flagship; the Sword of Justice had detected the Tyranid Hive ship. The Sword of Justice had exposed herself to detection when she broadcast the message, and the Captain of the Astartes ship announced that a number of the enemy were closing, and with his last transmission, passed on the approach vectors of the enemy command ship. His message was appended with "The Chapter must survive. We will do our duty, and take as many of these xenos scum with us as we can. Make them pay."
Rogue Trader Hartek voxed Lieutenant Commander Ivanov on the Furnace of Redemption; "Mister Ivanov. We have the location and vectors of the Hive Ship. You are now on detached duty."
"Aye Sir. What are your orders?"
The Rogue Trader smiled a grim smile, and relayed the simple command. "Make the Hive Ship disappear! That is all."
Ivanov laughed. "As you command, My Lord" Communication was broken.
"Major Kimenth?" Ivanov turned to his right, and looked the commander of the stormtrooper detachment, Kilgrim's Killers, in the eye. "Prepare the troops for battle. We may well have to repel boarders!"
"Aye Sir!" The Major acknowledged, and hurried away.
Finally, he settled into his command throne and turned to the communicatorum Officer; "Contact the Tech-Priests in the teleportarium, and tell them to start preparing the device. We move to engage!"
The Officer acknowledged his instructions, and then turned back to Ivanov. "Sir, we have a guncutter approaching. Brother Castagir requests permission to come aboard."
Ivanov smiled. "It seems everyone is keen to die today!" He nodded. "Permission granted."
The Fleet formed up in its normal defensive formation, however, as it did so the Furnace of Redemption, accompanied by the three surviving Cobra Class Destroyers of Squadron Hartek, and the Dureen Light Cruiser the Scourge of Tyrants slipped silently away, and disappeared from the sensorium arrays of the other ships as they switched to silent running, before setting up an ambush along the approach vector of the xenos Hive Ship.
As the defenders waited patiently for the enemy to arrive, the efficient running of His Undying Will was interrupted by raised voices and a flurry of insulting expletives as Roger Trader Hartek ordered the Squat woman, Helga, put off the ship and transported back over to the Star Galleon, Grifner's Hammer. Although the unfortunate soldiers detailed to the task succeeded, each one of them found himself battered and bruised after the eventful mission, and consequently suffered the jokes of their squad-mates - at least until a bootleg vid taken from the landing bay security cameras was passed around the barracks, and their comrades saw what they had had to deal with. It was generally agreed that they all deserved medals.
It was left to Gartek Fiendhammer, and a number of other Squats to placate Helga on the guncutter, just in case she decided to focus her anger on the pilots. As he went to board the vessel, he turned and winked at Hartek; "See lad, I said yer were playin' with fire with this one!"
Hartek laughed. "And you're right Gartek, but I need her safe. She can't be on this ship."
The older Squat became serious as his face took on a sombre cast. "Yer a good lad. I will make sure she's safe, you have me word!". He paused, and looked at his boots, seemingly embarrassed. "You make sure we get chance to meet again so we can share some more o' my proper Squat ale!"
"I'll do my best Gartek!" Hartek spun on his heel and quickly left the docking bay before anything more could be said.
Gartek watched him go, a sad smile on his face, then sighed, and boarded the guncutter steeling himself for the confrontation he knew was coming.
The detachment of Dureen ships hung silently in the void as the smaller Tyranid bio-ships streamed past their hulls; the seemed eager to close the distance with the main Fleet that was holding the line most effectively. Under the combined command of Captain Locke and Rogue Trader Hartek, the hard lessons learned over the last few weeks had obviously paid off, and the net of macro-cannon and lance fire cut through the enemy; thirty-three more escorts fell to the Imperial guns, as did eighteen of the Cruiser class bio-ships. The toll taken of the enemy did not come without a cost though, ten more of the armed merchantmen died, as did four Naval escorts. At the heart of the defence the Hell Bringers Strike Cruiser Golden Throne had become the focus of a pair of Tyranid cruiser groups and the venerable ship began to leak atmosphere as her hull cracked open, suddenly she powered her engines to full, her Captain broadcasting over the vox; "The ship is breaking apart. Sacrificing!" She slammed into the nearest of the massive bio-ships, and her plasma drives overloaded. Where seconds before a mighty warship had been, nothing but wreckage remained. Even in death she accounted for those that were responsible for her demise, the expanding globe of plasma destroying bio-ships many kilometres from the epicentre.
The sacrifice of the Golden Throne bought the defenders some time, and they regrouped, Captain Locke ordered a formation change to compensate for the losses, and the deadly fire continued to destroy the bio-ships, and the Tyranids attempted to close to finally silence the defiant guns. The Xenos Fleet found itself somewhat extended by the stubborn defence, and as the immense Hive Ship a bio-ship that dwarfed anything else in the system, moved to exert better control of its' subordinates it came within range of the silent, waiting, vessels of House Dureen.
At Lieutenant Commander Ivanov's word his detached flotilla plunged forwards, cutting though the escorts and evading the smaller ships that attempted to ram the ambushers. The weight of fire and ordinance carved a clear corridor through the void, and Ivanov activated the vox, and gave a single command; "Execute!"
Power was drawn from the non-vital systems on the Furnace of Redemption and the lights flickered as the modified teleportarium drew the energy required to transport its precious cargo onto the enemy vessel. The Tech-Priests made the final connection to the device, and the vessel shuddered. The vox to the bridge was suddenly alive with static, and then a Tech-Priests metallic voice could be heard.
"Lieutenant Commander Ivanov!" Ivanov acknowledged the incoming transmission, and the Tech-Priest continued; "The device seems to be activating, but the behaviour is anomalous to the projected results."
Ivanov paused. "You mean it isn't working?”’’ He asked
"Sir, it is working, but not as expected... What! In the Omissiah's name! What is that-" The squeal of increased static preventing anything further being heard from the vox.
Ivanov quickly pushed some control buttons on his command throne and vid-feeds from the teleportarium chamber were redirected to the holo-screen at the centre of the bridge.
The xenos device was sitting in the centre of the chamber, its strange icons glowing with a green light, and a nimbus of energy surrounded it. Suddenly, from the centre of it, a ball of energy rapidly expanded; it reminded Ivanov of watching a rock dropped in a pool of water, but from under the surface. As fast as it had expanded, the energy ball contracted, and then snapped across the centre of the device like a meniscus, and this fine surface trembled and wavered, and then appeared to settle down as the energy levels stopped spiking. The green light expanded from the centre of the device, and formed a diffuse hemisphere around it.
The static from the vox faded away, and the excited chatter of the Tech-Priests could be heard again.
"Tech-Priest!" Ivanov demanded. "Teleport the damn thing! We have limited time!"
An Enginseer could be seen rapidly working his hands over the teleportarium controls, but each time he attempted activation, nothing happened. Suddenly a new voice could be heard over the vox; it was the Sergeant in command of the guard detail in the chamber. "Sir. I can see movement..." He paused, and swallowed. "Sir. I can see movement within the device..." He raised his voice. "Guards! Stand to!"
Ivanov's head dropped slightly, as though calculating, then it snapped upright again. "Ladies and gentlemen, it has been an honour to serve with you. Full power to the engines, stand by to overload. Helm, steer us directly at the centre of the beast!"
The Hive Ship began to manoeuvre, realising the intent of the Furnace of Redemption, but for such a huge vessel to change direction would take time, and this was hindered further as the bio-engineered virus torpedoes launched by the supporting ships struck home. In the matter of minutes, it was noticeable that the Tyranids responses were far more sluggish and mal-coordinated than they had been, however, the Hive Fleet as a whole, answered the distress call from the Hive Ship and began to reverse course, with all bio-ships moving towards the command vessel.
The bridge crew, to their credit, snapped into action on their Captain's order, but those not directly involved found their attention focussed on the image of the teleportarium chamber as gunfire could be heard from there. From the centre of the device, a silver, skeletal figure emerged. It paused on the threshold and raised the strange green-glowing weapon that it was carrying and fired a burst of energy. A Tech-Priest was hit square in the chest, and the energy seemed to flay his body down to his skeleton, until finally that fell away to ash. The return fire that struck the mechanoid creature obviously damaged it, but then the wounds began to knit together and it soon appeared undamaged again.
Gun servitors turned their heavy weapons on the newcomer, and a sustained burst of fire knocked chunks from the mechanoid frame until it was flung backwards. Suddenly, the fallen skeleton phased out of reality. Then it was replaced by another of its kind that stepped from the centre of the device, quickly followed by two more.
Brother Castagir stood, and calmly strode over to the command throne. "Lieutenant Commander. May I suggest that you order the non-essential crew to the saviour pods?"
Ivanov shrugged. "Why? They'll just end up as helpless targets for the Tyranids! Personally I'd prefer to die in the plasma explosion when the ship goes."
"As would I..." Castagir nodded. "However, if what you intend succeeds, the Tyranids will be without central control, they will have no co-ordination, and I doubt that they will be interested in saviour pods. Give your crew a chance to survive. They deserve that!"
"Brother Castagir, thank-you." Ivanov smiled a weak smile, and gave the order. "I would suggest you get clear too."
The Space Marine shook his head. "I intend to stop those things interfering with your plans. My place is in the teleportarium."
The helmsman called out "On target, impact in ten standard minutes."
Ivanov shook his head. "There is too little time for you to get there, and I doubt our new friends will be able to do enough to stop us now. Get clear, and make sure Major Kimenth goes too."
Castagir paused, and then stood back and saluted the Lieutenant Commander, before turning on his heel and ushered as many of the crew as possible into the bridge saviour pods. He glanced up at the holo-screen and saw a dozen of the mechanoid skeletons on the teleportarium chamber, and behind them, through the green haze at the centre of the xenos device he could make out a large pyramid shape.
"Major Kimenth!" Castagir's voice boomed. "It is time to leave!"
The Major looked ready to argue, and glanced over to Ivanov, who shook his head slowly; "Major, look after my crew for me..."
She came to ramrod attention, and snapped off a parade ground salute, before nodding at him. Castagir checked the status of the saviour pods on a data-screen, and realised that the closest remaining were several minutes away, all those nearby having safely launched. He apologised, and slung Kimenth over his shoulder before setting off down the corridors at a full run. He explained, "We would not get there in time if we went at the pace of a human..." and the Major cut off her protests before they had begun.
On the bridge Ivanov ordered the launch of the remaining virus torpedoes from those ships that were armed with them, and then passed around a bottle of the finest Amasec, laced with the juice of the Hartek fruit, and made sure all that those who had remained with him received a generous shot of the precious liquid, before settling back into the command throne.
The chirp of an incoming message alert caught his attention, and Ivanov activated the vox. The tones of Rogue Trader Hartek sounded over the airwaves. "Mister Ivanov. What do you think you're doing?"
"Dying for the Dynasty, my Lord!" Ivanov couldn't help but chuckle.
Hartek grunted. "The idea isn't to die for the Dynasty, Ivanov, it's to make the other bugger die..."
"To be fair Sir, I am doing that too...!" Ivanov pointed out.
Hartek ignored him. "Kindly disengage and save your ship."
"Sorry Sir, I didn't get that..."
The Furnace of Redemption rocked and shuddered as her prow plowed into the Hive ship; her final weapons strikes burning a hole deep into the ships flesh, and then setting it alight. With a final jerk the Frigate came to a sudden halt as her powerful engines could drive her no further into the enemy vessel, and Ivanov, protected by the defensive fields of the Captain's throne looked around at the shattered bridge scattered with dead and dying crew. Suddenly he saw himself seated on the throne for the first time, when he had manoeuvred her in battle against a chaos cruiser, and then his thoughts snapped back to reality.
He smiled, and muttered under his breath. "It was worth it."
Pausing for a second, he thought, and a tight smile appeared on his face as he considered what the Rogue Trader would say if it were him commanding, and the flotilla received up the last vox-broadcast from the Furnace of Redemption; "For the glory of the God-Emperor and House Dureen! I will see you all standing by the Throne."
Then he pushed the button.
The last flurry of saviour pods were ejected from the rear of the venerable ship, and deep within the engine rooms a final link engaged and the massive plasma engines began to feed immense energies into in a feedback loop that would cause the plasma drives to overload. His final duty done, Lieutenant Commander Victrix Ivanov, Captain of the Dureen warship, the Furnace of Redemption relaxed and pulled out his pocket chronometer, opened the back and dropped the small leafy sprig contained within onto his hand. Gazing down his thoughts drifted away to gentler time. Crushing the sprig he lifted his hand, the sweet smell of jasmine filled his nostrils as the ghostly vision of his wife smiling looking up from their wedding bed.
"Heavenly torture, I smell you but can't touch you, Still I..."
Then the plasma drives detonated, and a miniature sun vaporised both the Furnace of Redemption and the Hive ship; the surviving ends of the huge bio-ship ruptured and burst in mass of organic wreckage and gore as chunks spiralled away.
On the bridge of His Undying Will silence fell as all eyes were trained on the tactical holo-display as the crew watched the Furnace of Redemption die.
Under her breath Commander Jasmine Montoya spoke, almost as a whisper; "Still I breathe you in..."
"Ma’am?" Commander Montoya looked into the puzzled eyes of her aide.
Montoya sighed, and quickly wiped away the single tear running down her cheek. "They did their duty Lieutenant Carstairs and so must we." She gathered herself up, and addressed the Rogue Trader in a shaky voice "Sir, I suggest we have the civilian ships aid the attack craft in recovery operations, while we deal with the remainder of the Tyranid fleet."
The piercing eyes of Rogue Trader Hartek studied her; "Make it so, Captain."
Turning back to her command board, she was pleased to see the highly trained bridge crew were already processing their orders, and passing messages to the rest of the surviving vessels. She took a deep breath and sat erect in her seat, and whispered to herself, ignoring the questioning look of Lieutenant Carstairs, "Wait for me my husband, my love."
Finally catching the eye of her aide she found something like her normal voice, "Eve would you please get me a cup of tea. Jasmine I think."
The seconds passed, and Hartek paused, watching the tactical display, grunting in satisfaction as the small craft raced towards the saviour pods, and then spoke gruffly to the now static filled comms screen; "Lieutenant Commander Ivanov, consider yourself put on report..."
The Tyranid fleet seemed to freeze, struck by a strange paralysis, and the defenders of the system took advantage of this, destroying dozens of the bio-ships of varying size before they began to react as if by instinct. Almost half the enemy fleet remained, but they were now far easier targets than they had previously been.
The smaller vessels and civilian craft began retrieving the saviour pods that now littered the void as the warships destroyed the xenos. As His Undying Will launched her fighter and bomber wings, as well as her complement of guncutters, the sensorium officer turned to Rogue Trader Hartek. "Sir, I'm picking up a strange reading..."
Hartek muttered "What now..." and then spoke louder. "Really? Route the images onto the main display."
"Yes sir..." The screen flickered to life, and the unusual readings coalesced into twelve contacts of unknown origin.
In the void, as if from nowhere, these contacts phased into reality, and the ships could be seen to be of crescent shape and of a silver colour. Brother Castagir and Major Kimenth saw them from closer range, as they appeared near the wreckage of the Hive ship and the Furnace of Redemption. Beams of green energy lashed out from the new ships, each hit cutting through a bio-ship with ease. It became clear that there were three larger ships, with pyramids mounted to the rear curve of the crescent, and these appeared to be the equivalent of a cruiser, and nine smaller ships, which looked and behaved like escorts to the larger vessels. Then a larger crescent ship emerged, far larger than the others, and probably of a similar size to His Undying Will.
The new arrivals seemed uninterested in the human vessels, and so Hartek ordered that the Fleet hold its position and not engage the newcomers, particularly as they still busied themselves hunting and destroying the Tyranid bio-ships. It soon became clear that the new arrivals were clearing the area around the destroyed Furnace of Redemption, and seemed to be flying in a search pattern. Finally they seemed to detect the target of their search; Brother Castagir watched with his enhanced vision as the ruined remains of the xenos-device that had been triggered on the Frigate was drawn aboard the large crescent ship.
With final energy blasts at nearby Tyranid vessels, leaving all but a handful destroyed, all but one of the cruiser sized crescent ships simply phased from reality, the last one turned on its axis and headed for the inner system at high speed. Watching from the viewing portal of the saviour pod Brother Castagir gasped. "No! It is... It is as it was in the vision!" and then stepped back, almost in shock. He turned and punched the nearest bulkhead leaving a considerable dent in the metal, and then did it again, and again, punctuating each ringing impact with a strangled "No!" Kimenth stepped back into the far side of the pod, and sat down staying as quiet and as small as she possibly could watching the Astartes with wary surprise.
The oncoming Xeno vessel was a sickly green blip on the Undying Will's tactical display. Glowing arrows showed its vector clearly heading directly for the Meltorn system's binary star. Across the display, blue dots indicated the location of the other Imperial ships in the system. Though relatively new to the arcane art of shiphandling, even Kilgrim could instantly grasp the grim story the display told.
"Sir, Rogue Trader Hartek, Sir!" the Ensign at the tactical station voice rang out over the normal chatter that accompanied a warship in combat "Fleet reports no other vessel is within intercept range of the Xeno ship."
"Very well, plot an intercept and bring us about. Weapons, give me a full volley of fire targeted on the Xeno vessel the moment it comes within range."
A civilian ship that crossed the projected trajectory of the crescent ship fared no better than the Tyranid bio-ships; a green beam arced out, cutting the vessel in two, before a second salvo destroyed the tumbling wreckage.
Kilgrim Hartek, Rogue Trader Regent and bonded Warmaster to House Dureen, hopped down from his command throne and began to pace the bridge. He was dimly aware of the presence of Inquisitor Atellus, who was wisely remaining mute after his promised "super weapon" had brought this new doom to the Meltorn system. Not for the first time, he found himself wondering if tales of Atellus's much vaunted psychic prowess could possibly be true.
"Didn't bloody well see this coming did you?" Kilgrim muttered under his breath.
If the Inquisitor heard, or read the thought, he gave no indication of it. There was a fluttering sound from above, followed by a faint cough and Kilgrim looked up to see the cherubim servitor, the final creation of the former enginseer Nicander Hak, and the resting place for the last remnants of the dead tech-priest's personality engrams. The cherubim looked down at Kilgrim with its huge baby-blue eyes and gestured frantically at the tactical display.
"Yes I know, old friend." Kilgrim replied. "The Astartes saw this didn't he? One of his visions of the bloody apocalypse, I remember him telling us. A fleet of Hive ships smashed, a new and strange xeno ship flies through the wreckage and launches a weapon into one of the twin suns. Supernova, and the death of an entire system. And after that joyride Atellus took us on last year, we have a name for them now. Necron, for their name is Death to all those who cross their path."
Just then the lights on the bridge dimmed slightly as the ship's Sunsear laster batteries lanced out into the void towards the oncoming ship. The seconds ticked by before the tactical ensign looked up once again. "Sir! sensorium reports three weapon hits on the Xeno vessel. No significant change in course or speed. Time to estimated launch point, twenty-five standard minutes."
That was it then. His Undying Will wasn't a ship of the line, but relied heavily on its complement of fighters and bombers for firepower. But those aerospace craft had already all been deployed against the Tyranids, and were even now engaged in mopping up and rescue operations in the swarm of life pods surrounding the wreck of the Furnace of Redemption. There was only one way the Necron ship could be stopped and the lives of billions on the surviving worlds of Meltorn saved.
"Very well. Helm, adjust course for physical interception. Update constantly, zero deviation. We can't let them wipe out this system." He paused for a moment. "Bosun, sound a Class Two shipwide evacuation. All non-critical and aerospace support personnel to the saviour pods."'' There would be confusion, and many lives would be lost in the panic, but at least some of the crew would have a chance to survive. "Communications. Vox the fleet and instruct all ships not immediately involved in rescue operations to make for the warp immediately. Just in case we miss."
Riding out the warp in the vicinity of a supernova would not be pleasant, but again a slim chance of survival was better than none.
"Well Inquisitor, it seems that you and I will..." as he turned back there was now an Atellus-shaped hole where the Inquisitor had previously been standing. Either rumours about his powers of teleportation were true, or he had joined the mad rush for the escape pods with unseemly haste and stealth. Hartek sighed. "...will not be having dinner in Airlock Four this evening."
Kilgrim turned wearily and levered himself back up into his command throne where he pondered as the minutes ticked away. He didn't fear death. For death had lived with him and been a constant close companion for all the years of his life. Over the years he had brought death to hundreds, maybe thousands of souls, and his own imminent demise held no mysteries or terrors, just a feeling of inevitability. But after a lifetime of destruction, in the last few years he'd finally had a hand in building something worthy of a legacy. House Dureen was firmly established, with a formally approved heir in waiting that would remove the taint of his own, slightly dubious elevation to the title of Rogue Trader. Though this battle had cost the house dearly in resources and personnel, that would be more than offset by the powerful alliances he had made. And the Squats would live on, their one surviving colony spread across the worlds of the Dureen Federation in relative safety. Kilgrim would not be the last of his kind. Unbidden, the thought of a certain fiery squat female crept into his mind, and he couldn't help but smile to himself.
"Sir! Estimated time to intercept two minutes." The voice of the Tactical Ensign broke Kilgrim from his reverie.
The bridge lights dimmed again as the Sunsear batteries speared the darkness a second time, but no-one expected a magical last-second save. Suddenly Kilgrim was aware that all eyes on the bridge had turned to him. He'd learnt the art of leadership in battle on countless worlds, but it was only since attaining the rank of Rogue Trader that he'd been able to inspire the sort of devotion that led ordinary men and women to follow him into certain death. But loyal as they were, the crew lacked his familiarity with death and were facing what was for them the last great unknown. They were looking to him in these last few moments for inspiration and comfort. Easy enough now, he'd mastered the art of oratory and knew all the right words to soothe their troubled hearts.
He straightened up in his command throne and opened his mouth to speak... and then stopped.
This was not the time for fancy oratory, for the sort of blustering nonsense he'd learned was part and parcel of the Rogue Trader's repertoire. Here and now, at the penultimate moment, it was a time for the pure and simple truth. His people deserved that and nothing less.
With all eyes on him, Kilgrim Hartek pressed a button on the control panel of his Command Throne and a hidden compartment opened in the arm. With a faint hiss a mechanical tray extended bearing a flask containing the finest, most powerful Hartek Fruit brandy his distillatorium had managed to produce. He unscrewed the cap, allowing a few whisps of vapour to escape before taking a long, hard gulp from the flask. He put the flask back down on the tray and looked about him at the expectant crewmen.
"Fuck it all." he said.
There was a moments silence. Then the ensign at the tactical station gave a nervous, spluttering laugh, joined moments later by the Helmsman. Like a wave the laughter built up and washed around the bridge until the whole crew were consumed by it. Kilgrim smiled and looked up to see the cherubim smiling down at him. Then he chuckled. Then the infection took hold of him and Rogue Trader Kilgrim Hartek began to laugh. A deep, uproarious booming laughter that came from deep within and shook the pillars of heaven, while the numbers on the display screen counted down to nothing. Then, her engines still roaring at full power, His Undying Will ploughed into the back of the slow moving xenos vessel. Both ships crumpled, and the immense energy being targeted by the crescent ship seemed to feedback, and then in a blinding green explosion both vessels were torn apart. Suddenly, the Meltorn System was clear of enemy vessels.
Over the next few hours and days the surviving ships retrieved all the saviour pods from the two sacrificed warships, and amazingly over ninety percent of the crews survived. All were grateful to their leaders for giving them the chance to survive the cataclysmic encounter, and were greeted as heroes by the civilians sheltering on Meltorn Tria. Even the Space Marines showed them a measure of respect.
The pod containing Brother Castagir and Major Kimenth was retrieved by the Aegis, Captain Locke's ship, and the salvage crews were stunned by the damaged to the interior. The Deathwatch Marine nodded his thanks to his rescuers and stalked out onto the flight deck, before seeing the Captain a hundred metres or so across the hanger bay keeping a keen eye on proceedings.
A stunned NCO looked at the damage, and then at Major Kimenth; "'Scuse me Ma'am, but did a 'Nid get into the pod, Ma'am?" He nervously glanced into the shadowed corners. Iaris remained silent for a few seconds and the man politely prompted her again; "Ma'am, what happened here?"
Carefully, Iaris stood. She waited on the threshold of the hatch and nodded at the back of Castagir as he strode away, her voice was barely more than a whisper, and the retrieval crew edged closer to hear; "He did. He watched the Furnace of Redemption die, and saw the other xenos materialise..." She glanced at the man. "He had foreseen this you know, except he saw the system burn, all living things destroyed... Anyway, he saw the crescent ships, and thought that all the sacrifice had been for nothing, and millions were still going to die... And, well, he took his frustrations out on the bulkheads... Then Hartek rammed the xenos ship, and the system was saved, but we watched more friends die..." She sighed, and seemed to gather herself.
The NCO peered past her at the wrecked interior, and then glanced back at her pale face. "Excuse me Ma'am, but I don't see no tools, Ma'am...", a questioning tone in his voice.
"No, Sailor, you wouldn't." Iaris met his gaze and smiled weakly. "He used his fists." She glanced over her shoulder, and began to follow Castagir across the deck ready to inform Captain Locke that Lieutenant Commander Ivanov would not be found in a saviour pod, leaving the shocked crewmen muttering to each other.
A month later the survivors were gathered on the huge mustering fields outside the Fortress Monastery of the Hell Bringers. The Astartes warriors and the Chapter Serfs who had not been deployed to Malfi were present, as were several PDF regiments, and many civilian representatives. Towards the fringes of these massed ranks civilians had gathered, uninvited, but determined to pay the respects, and to offer their thanks to the fallen. Front and centre of the first rank was Major Kimenth, flanked by Captain Locke and Gartek Fiendhammer who was escorting Helga, now obviously pregnant. Standing to address all present was Chapter Master Angrim Phoenix, his deep voice rolled clearly out across the silent throng.
"For the noble sacrifice of those that fell defending this system, Astartes and human alike, mere words cannot convey the importance of their actions. All did their duty, and stand with the Emperor now, but because of them, the Chapter endures, and the Meltorn System still lives. We will not forget them, and they will live on."
As he spoke, a huge cover slipped away from a fifteen metre high statue depicting Rogue Trader Hartek seated on his command throne. The likeness was incredible, and he was depicted leaning forward with one hand placed on Lieutenant Commander Ivanov's shoulder, the two men were dressed in House uniform and were seemingly discussing something of import. The figures formed an arch through which all pedestrian traffic would have to pass to enter the city beyond. Around the base were engraved the names of all the servants of House Dureen who had died in the Battle of Meltorn.
Above the names a single word was carved; "Brothers"
To one side, in the shadow of older statues Brother Castagir stood silently watching the ceremony, away from the attention of most. Chief Librarian Niall Benjamin stood with him and the Hell Bringer turned to the Deathwatch Marine, and spoke softly "The Chapter Master knows what you have done for us, Brother Castagir, and considers that we owe you a debt. But you cannot come back. You are a source of conflict in the Chapter, and that is something we cannot afford, particularly at this time..."
Castagir nodded. "I know, My Lord. My duty takes me elsewhere, and that I accept. As long as the Chapter looks after those that gave so much for this system, then there is no debt."
The Chief Librarian clapped him on the shoulder. "Well said Brother, well said! It will be so, that I promise." He paused, and spoke again; "Your loss to the Chapter will be keenly felt, Brother."
The silence was split by the massed voices of over one hundred Astartes shouting "Brothers!" That was followed by the sound of ceramite ringing against ceramite as they crashed their armoured gauntlets to their chests in salute. Major Kimenth smiled at the tribute and glanced at Gartek Fiendhammer, who was radiating pride, but comforting Helga who had tears streaming down her face, her hands cupping the swell of her belly; "He'll never know he was to be a father!" The words escaped between sobs. Unwilling to intrude on her grief, Iaris turned towards Captain Locke, and was shocked to see a single tear rolling down her face, shaken by the unexpected show of emotion, she focussed her attention on the Chapter Master and let his words wash over her.
Although the current tale of House Dureen has ended, the house is not finished and still has many tales to tell, watch this space.....
*thumbs up* I wish my players would take things seriously enough, long enough, to produce such drama
RIP Hartek and Ivanov, we will greatly miss you!
Suffer not the rule Lawyers just enjoy your self!!! - Slaneesh Acolyte
I will infect you with my views!!! - Nurgle Rule Lawyer
Oups... I must have read it wrong, was it not like that before? Anyway doesn't mean all those game you lost are now forfeeted... - Tzench Liar
BECAUSE IT CAN'T HAPPEN!!!!!! The book says so!!! I hate you all, I quit this shit. - Khorne rule gardian and whinner!
RIP Hartek and Ivanov, we will greatly miss you!
NO!!!! Why did I have to go to the end first and not read the story!!! Ah the agony, the torment. :*(
"Live long, so that others may prosper in your endeavours…. or so that you can piss on your enemies graves."
Additional DH & RT material can be found on the link provided below. Most of the material was provided by others players, while some of it was created/edited by me. GM discretion is advised.
RIP Hartek and Ivanov, we will greatly miss you!
NO!!!! Why did I have to go to the end first and not read the story!!! Ah the agony, the torment. :*(
Ahhh, as long as you learn your lesson. Just promise to read the rest before heading for the Aftermath chapter :-P
.... as previously said by someone I don't really remember ;-) ... What a way to go !!!
Really nice story ... If you write anything else even in other gameplay ... let us know