Seeing Captain Krawkins ship pull out from the Warp is not a reassuring sight. Bristling with macrocannon batteries, lances, and weapons Claudia had never even seen before, His Unconquerable Will is a ship designed to bring death to the enemies of The Imperium. Turns out, it's a dab hand at taking on the enemies of The Captain as well.
After some terse chit-chat, Claudia demanded the ship prepped for Warp travel. Krawkin demanded she shut her engines down, or he would open fire. And, true to his word, as the good ship Vegas (we finally got a name!) started to drop into the Empyrean, Krawkin let loose a single Lance-strike, aiming to disable the ship. It was, however, too late - the shot missed, and gouged a huge tear into the surface of the water-planet. The seas boiled under the heat, and in some parts, evaporated (and even caught fire) as the lance dragged its way across the surface. Luckily, none of the Hives were in the way - though the planet would face years of ecological problems as a result.
Celebrating their escape, the ship set off for a few different trade ports, to help confuse Krawkin and mask their trail, and the Lord-Captain had a chance to investigate and research the Eldar relic the had recovered. It was a semicircle of wraithbone, about 5 metres in diameter - inscribed with eldritch markings and unknowable runes. In the centre, another smooth curve denoted a smaller disk missing from the starmap. Over the next few days, as they bounced from port to port, Claudia found herself drawn to investigate the map more and more - it was only when she noticed that her usual route through the ship, no matter what way she went, would always deviate to the holding room that she decided it was becoming an obsession. She ordered her guards to keep an eye on her behaviour, reporting anything suspicious to both her and her Seneschal, "Bobby". They were also instructed to plan routes which would keep her occupied and away from the holding cell. When she slept, she still received visions of her true destination - the planet with gemstone beaches and something terrible hiding somewhere on it. What started as a vague feeling of seeing through someone else's eyes became more and more like a memory, and even began to take on elements of lucidity - controlling her path through the dream. A few doses of an obscura-based sleeping aid, and stimms while she was awake, seemed to help repress the dreams somewhat.
As the days drew on, she also noticed a few coincidences - she would think of people moments before they voxed her, she would make very lucky guesses, and recieved "hunches" that were too accurate to be chance. She confided in Allesaunder, who believed that perhaps all the contact with Eldar technology and psychic materials of late had awoken some tiny spark of psychic ability. While she would never be a full-blown psyker, she might find her mind becoming not her own over the next few months. The Captain's resolve to avoid excessive contact with the artifact was redoubled - yet also short-lived.
While sorting out some of the other Eldar items recovered from the jungle planet, she located an Eldar Shuriken pistol. The gun's smooth curves called out to her, and she could feel the wraithbone sing in her hand when she held it. She practised with it where possible, and has taken to carrying it on her person.
As they finished making their cold trail, Allesaunder noticed an anomaly in the readings - making so many short Warp jumps in such a small amount of time seemed to have done something to the local Warp current, and they had arrived back to about 4 ship-hours before they arrived at the Waterworld of Piscinius. Not wanting to waste such a valuable lead, Claudia ordered them straight to their next location - a desert planet several days Warp travel from where they currently sat.
After all the stress and work of the past few days, the Captain was looking forward to a relaxing journey - but sadly, it was not to come. One of the Hospitaller Sisters approached her, asking her to come to the Medicae bays immediately.
Astropath Sands (last seen taking on a minor Daemon of Tzeench) had been in a bad way since the encounter. The touch of The Changer of Ways was upon him - a mutation. As she approached his bay (sealed off behind inch-thick quarantine glass), she saw him lying on the steel flooring, weeping openly. Tears of dark black blood flowed from under his blindfold, and made ichorous pools under his head. As he heard the footsteps of the Captain, he crawled fully into view.
Where his legs had been, he now sported a great serpentine tail - hints of previous musculature and bones were still visible, signs the mutation was recent. Still weeping, he explained that he had been too proud and overzealous, that he did not have the willpower to battle such a creature, and that the horrific changes wrought upon him were his punishment - the Emperor's judgement of unworthiness. Still crying, he pleaded for his chance to prove himself worthy to serve the Imperium once more. The Lord-Captain left without a word.
She consulted the Chief Medicae and Magos Biologis, both of whom said he was in a stable condition and showing no further sign of mutation or physical corruption. The Missionary had already placed in a request with the Captain for the man to be shot, burnt, blessed and spilled to the Void. Allesaunder, after a brief investigation, claimed that there is no malignancy in his soul, simply regret and pain. As far as he was concerned, Sands was "safe" to continue duty. After some time and reflection, Clauida decided to allow Sands to stay on the ship, and once more take his place in the Astropathic Choir - under the watchful eye of Blind Mag, and at least one armed guard, at least for the time being. He was removed from his bay, and taken back to his quarters under cover of "night" to recuperate before taking his second chance. With tears flowing once more from his wasted eyes, Sands thanked the Captain, and vowed to show more fortitude in all future endeavours.
Finally, the Vegas arrived at their next location - Hectari-Prime, previously a human settlement, now a dead world. Or so they thought - auspexing revealed movement, life-signs and even explosions and gunfire on the surface of the planet. As they picked up a signal for audio transmission only (the pict wouldn't have good enough resolution at their current range), they caught a bizarre chant that sent shivers down Corbec's spine;
"'ERE WE GO, 'ERE WE GO, 'ERE WE GO..."
Orks. I fuckin' love 'em.
Also, my player finally got around to spending her collected XP, and picked up Exotic Weapon (Shuriken Pistol), and I remembered the looted items from their trip... (she had tried to sell them on Piscinius, but the buyer was a right nasty piece of work, and she refused).
I'm figuring out that, while she's a lot less ruthless and GRIMDARK than most 40k fans, the Captain's player still wants to be put in situations where she is forced to make tough decisions - like with Sands. Here's hoping that her generosity isn't taken for granted...
And, after consulting with her, she's happy to take Psyniscience as an elite advance, to represent her new found abilities - again, this can only be bad news...