Monday, November 16, 2009

Episode 1: The Lost Session

"Black Jack" Onyx was plying a meager trade route in the outskirts of the Callixus Sector, financed by the mid-tier trade consortium Collective Menelauis . It was consistent, if not extremely prosperous, work. On one route, while hauling grain from an agri-world, he received a distress call from a navy vessel requesting immediate assistance from all Imperial craft within hearing. By the time Onyx showed up, he discovered a badly battered Sword-class frigate making way as best she could. Investigating, he quickly discovered the ship was manned by an Eldar prize crew trying to get the captured vessel into hiding! Quickly taking stock of the situation, Onyx led his merchant crew in a boarding action against the frigate. Numbers soon told, and the vile Eldar corsairs, no doubt crew of the notorious Ulthyr Ellarion, were soon wiped out.

Onyx received a windfall reward for returning the lost ship from the hands of the Xenos, and it was determined that, for his bravery and initiative, he would receive the Warrant of a Rogue Trader. He knew that his existing merchant crew might make a good core, but he would need exceptional people to follow him into exceptional circumstances. He called upon his long-time friend, the now Imperial Missionary Tiberius, as well as the zealous Aesteban to serve as his Seneschel and the former-navy man Horatio. For defense, Aesteban recommended the experienced Eldar fighter Kennoch, who brought along a regiment recruited from his fellow freedom fighters. Along for the ride are also (the NPCs) Uller Barkiel the aged Navigator and Quartermaster Mishina Jenkins (one of the highest ranking women on the ship).

The devastated frigate itself was to be laid up in the yards of Opus Mecharius. Yet Tiberius, experiencing a vision of the Emperor as he took the opportunity to worship at the nearby shrine world Drusus, inspired Onyx and the crew, and together they used their new-found favor and influence, as well as much of their fortune, to have the vessel turned over to them. Collective Menelauis would not receive their share of the prize money-- yet would instead have an investment in a new-found Rogue Trader! They were not unhappy about this turn of events, and enthusiastically aided in the ship's long restoration, as well as providing over one thousand lasguns to help protect their investment.

Onyx's Warrant of Trade was delivered by the battleship Stigeus and its escort-- including an unnamed Black Ship of the Inquisition. Aboard the Stigeus, in a lavish ceremony, the Warrant was awarded to Onyx by Admiral Mephiston Glavius, who lauded his actions; Assistant Sector Governor Perun Octavian, who encouraged him to extend the Empire's boundaries; and Lord Inquisitor Arcadius Vetora, who reminded him that he would have to answer to the Emperor upon his return to Imperial space. Tiberious and the crew's hundred priests and missionaries partook in the Rites of Renaming led by the Stigeus's Hierophant; Admiral Glavius's Magister struck the frigate's old name from the Callixian Fleet's official history; and a single bottle of Golden Tokay was launched into the frigate's bow as the name VOID DRAGON was laser canon etched along the sides.

The newly rechristened Void Dragon set sail for the Maw, stopping at Port Wander for information and supplies. Kennoch mingled in the crew decks, trading drinks and information, before finding the weasly trader (and, Kennoch's criminal senses told him, no doubt smuggler) Solisto Corron, who manage to provide one hundred Hellguns (to equip the elite 1st Company of the ship's regiment), and another hundred laspistols and chainswords (to equip the Assault Company, the 10th). Tiberius visited the main chapel at Port Wander, meeting the enthusiastic Bishop Lucian Lysane. They worshipped together, then discussed the voyage ahead. Lysane talked about the systems in the Koronus Expanse he knew of, as well as three notable Rogue Traders in the area-- the faithful Galatan Drakkan, the shrewd Phemeus Arrion, and the untrustworthy Doomhammer Aradiel. Onyx himself took this information and bought drinks in Port Wander's elegant Captain's lounge, Opportunity, while plying for information about these Traders. There he met Bjorn Sempronius, who claimed to be Doomhammer's First Mate. Bjorn had heard of the newly Warrented trader who had made a name for himself fighting the Eldar, and seemed skeptical of Onyx's ability and chances beyond the border of the Imperium. Nevertheless, he did provide the most common route through the Maw for him to follow.

Not trusting Bjorn, Onyx ordered Uller to navigate the Void Dragon to the Battleground, intending from there to bypass the ominously named Witch-Cursed World and the Temple and jumping directly to the Hermitage. Uller led the ship through a bumpy ride in the turbulent empyrean, arriving only one day later and amazed at the Void Dragon's speed in the Sea of Souls. Unfortunately, the debris field of the Battleground provided the perfect spot for an ambush, and the Void Dragon soon had three unknown ships assaulting it. The Void Dragon's void shield and armor staved off most of the damage, yet still nearly one thousand ratings were burned to death by the attackers laser and macro canon batteries or evacuated into the void. Yet the crew of the Dragon bit back, causing severe damage to the first attacking vessel and launching a hit and run mission against it. The terrible murder servitors led the way, soon crippling the injured ships thrusters and sending it speeding in a direct line away from the battle at top speed, unable to maneuver.

The second attacker launched its own hit and runs against the Void Dragon. As vicious combat raged the length of the mile long ship, Onyx managed to catch of glimpse of the commander of the attack-- none other than Bjorn Sempronius! The shuttles and boarding torpedoes ranged back and forth, but, even though Bjorn's crew was more experienced, Onyx had better command of his troops, and soon Bjorn's ship had both engines and thrusters crippled, leaving it dead in the water. Before the final blow could be struck, the Void Dragon was hailed. In the bridge cathedral's great view screen was the bald, scarred Doomhamer Aradiel. "I'll have your ship, Onyx!" he declared. As Doomhammer's ship approached, Kennoch hailed Bjorn and in his most intimidating manner, swore to the Emperor that if he tried to flee, Kennoch and his men would hunt him down and butcher him like a grox. Bjorn admitted he could take no action and surrendered-- yet there remained, unseen, a flurry of repair activity in his ship.

Doomhammer's ship, the Ironfist, blasted away at the Void Dragon to no effect, but he got too close-- Horatio swung the mighty frigate around, cursing its slowness now in battle, and ran it right alongside the Ironfist. Klaxons blared, priests chanted the Rites of Slaughter as missionaries gathered their flamers, and the Void Dragon's regiment charged onto the Ironfist, led by the brutal 10th Assault Company. For an hour the battle ranged along the mile length of the Ironfist. The Void Dragon's troops breeched decks to get in behind the fierce resistance of the Ironfist's defenders, and their enthusiasm was too much to withstand, their slaughter too terrible to bear. Even as determined pockets continued to resist, the decimated crew of the Ironfist struck their colors and surrendered the ship. Soon, a bevy of escape pods launched. Horatio tried to track them and the Void Dragon's shuttles recovered several containing officers from the Ironfist, but Doomhammer was not found among them. In the meantime, the duration of the battle and the taking of the Ironfist gave Bjorn time enough to repair his ship, and, reneging on his promised surrender, he slipped silently away to safety.

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