Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rogue Trader One-on-One: Part Seven: Something Old, Someone New...

While fleeing from the Eldar attack, Allesaunder (the Chief Navigator) informed Claudia of a strange set of readings out in realspace - possibly a salvageable ship. The Lord-Captain, having no fear of Space Hulks (or Genestealers), decided to pop out of the Warp and check it out. What she found could change the fortunes of her somewhat-floundering dynasty forever.

She assumed it was a ship. It was a huge, black sphere (with a diameter comparable to the length of her ship). Scanning and careful observation found a large emblem patterned (almost etched, nought but a millimetre deep) into the front of the ship - a huge Imperial Aquila. After several hours of checking and double checking their results, her Tech-Priests got back to her - explaining that this ship was somewhere in the region of 10,000 years old, maybe more. This living relic may very well have been the first Human vessel in the Expanse - and judging by the readings, it still held some power!

Clearly, the Explorators were incredibly excited - some of the lesser Techpriests were even observed weeping with joy (and possibly terror). As the Captain announced they were to board the ship, the three Chief Explorators each argued that they should lead the mission, and be the first Adeptus Mechanicus member to step foot on such a vessel - eager to hog the glory of such a find. They pestered her with gifts, personal messages, even servo-skulls with pre-recorded vox signals. In the end, however, she told each of them to load up two shuttles with equipment, men and servitors, in separate shuttle bays - each was to thin they would be the first on-board. In fact, Claudia had picked who would accompany her as the first Tech-Priest on board - Harry, her assisstant with some minor Heretek leanings (well, he likes to fiddle with Xeno-Tech, nothing too serious). She also brought along her personal guard, along with Jayne (Head of Security, a 6'6" Catachanian gun-nut), as well as servitors and as much exploration equipment she could muster.

As they left (and the other Explorators behind them), they each split to find a docking bay in a "quarter" of the spherical ship - the plan being, they could quickly search the ship, figure out how to get it running, and return it to the Mechanicus (at some point) for a huge monetary reward (and, of course, the Glory of The Imperium, and the respect of the AdMech, but mainly the money).

Upon pulling into the docking bays (which seemed to open as they approached), however, they were faced with their first problem - inside, seemingly activated by their approach, were many servitors - far too smooth and flawless, and nowhere near biological enough to be Imperial tech. With all the bravo that a Rogue Trader should possess, she strode off the shuttle to inspect the beings. It took her looking round to see Harry hiding in the store cupboard to realise she was face-to face with something that the AdMech were intent to destroy - real-life Men of Iron. Abominable Intelligence.

OHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCK (In the player's own words)

As she sprinted back to the shuttle, she realised - they did not respond to her presence. At all. They simply worked away at their chosen function, whether sealing the doors, maintaining the shuttle, or (in the case of the larger, less-humanoid ones) performing whatever they were designed to do. Showing little fear (and despite the protests of her crew), she approached one of the Silica Animus, face to faceplate, and had a look. She spotted a small hexagramic ward on its forehead- the kind she had only seen in and around Warp Engines (and occasionally on representations of the Great Heroes of the Witch-Hunters). The figure did not break from its duties, or otherwise react to her presence, even as she began talking to it (Harry later explained that she was lucky she didn't take one of the Explorators with her - they would've shot her for that). She eventually convinced the team to come forward, and set up a forward base of operations within the hangar, while she, Jayne, Harry and a few guards went exploring. Their first challenge was the door out of the hanger.

One of the lesser Tech-Priests tried all her finest prayers and benedictions, even sparking some incense as she chanted (and was summarily put out by a small hovering Silica Animus with a fire extinguisher). She offered Harry the task of trying, which he accepted with the sign of The Cog - a clenched fist, with a flat, splayed hand behind it. Without hesitation or noise, the door opened - apparently, the Mechanicus had once ran this vessel, though it was unlike anything any living Tech-Priest had ever seen. The corridors were smooth, pearlescent white, made of some unknown substance (almost like translucent white plastic, though infinitely stronger).

As they worked their way through the corridors, Claudia received a vox-call from one of the other Explorators - none of the other teams had left their shuttles, on account of the Men of Iron. Claudia explained they were safe to approach, though not to let any of them come to harm - just in case.

In no time at all, one of the Tech-Priests had located some kind of access port - he believed he could attempt to use his MIU (Mind Impulse Unit) to interface with the machine, but feared the results. Harry, however, stepped forward bravely, though only under the caveat that someone be ready to shoot him should some wretched tainted A.I. infect him with its cyberExplorators to follow suit, and they each memorised a set of the schematics.

The exploration of the ship carried on at a much faster pace, now the crew knew what they were searching for - while the Lord-Captain was interested in finding the bridge and getting the old boat moving, the other teams were to locate the engine room, the storage areas, and the crew quarters respectively.

The crew quarters were found first - and judging by the somewhat spartan look of them, along with effigies of the Omnissah and other Mechanicus effects on the place, they deduced this might, at some point, have been a scientific vessel. Not much else could be taken from them. The storage areas (which they learned made up the lower third or so of the ship) had a variety of items - from fresh fruit and veg held in great stasis chambers, to clothing made of some odd, semi-metallic substance (picture retro-future "spaceclothes"), to unusual samples of a bewildering variety of materials. Most of the holds were empty, and it seemed the ones on use were clumped together near one side.

The bridge and engine room proved to be somewhat more unusual. The engine room (they could only deduce its function form the labelling on the schematics) was a large sphere, in the dead-centre of the ship - criss-crossed with spindly platforms, and the interior wall coated in strange studs. The schematics showed that each stud contained a collection of power cables and other assorted bits and pieces, stretching out through the ship, spidering their way through the systems like blood vessels from a heart. After attempting many, many different rituals and benedictions, the Explorator managed to locate the "On" button by falling over onto a console and nudging it with his elbow. In the centre of the sphere, seemingly unsupported, a small ball of light appeared, with wisps of vapour flowing from it into the studs. All over the ship, systems that had been dormant seemed to flare to life, lending the place a pleasant warm glow.

In the bridge, the Lord-Captain was having a nosey when something caught her eye - a corridor that wasn't covered by the schematic maps. In fact, it seemed to be a small "negative" space on the map - nothing there at all. Always the inquisitive type,  she decided to investigate. Picking her way through a darkened corridor to a room light only with red emergency lighting, she found a most unusual sight - a series on "passenger" stasis pods, each bearing a single occupant - bar one, which was broken. The inhabitants were varied - one was heavily tattooed, lean and cruel looking, one was obviously a Lady of some class, one even appeared to be an ancient Tech-Priest (or something similar) - but one in particular caught her eye.

The figure inside was huge - at least 7 feet.  He was muscled in ways that Claudia had never seen, and bore battle scars that no man should have been able to survive. Within an instant she was sure she stood in the presence of an Astartes - one of the Emperor's Space Marines. Many fevered prayers to the Emperor were shared amongst the crew.

Harry the Heretek confirmed that the pods were still active, and running on emergency power - the inhabitants might even be woken up, should they take care. Claudia called as many of the Explorators and Tech-Priests on the ship as she could, and they began the delicate process of extracting the first inhabitant - the heavily tattooed man, bearing the hallmarks of a Hive ganger. As they brought him round (somewhat in shock), they worked on getting the others out as well. All seemed to be alright, despite many thousands of years in stasis.

By the time they finally got around to awakening the Astartes, the Captain's excitement was palpable. She watched eagerly as the field was turned off, the door to the pod sliding back...

And within seconds, a hand shot out from the pod, grabbing the nearest Tech-Priest by the face-plate and squeezing.

"Who are you?"

The Space Marine's deep, basso voice near enough caused a holy terror amongst the crew.

So, my players has been asking to recruit a Space Marine for some time - she got the idea when she heard one of her friends was running a pre-Heresy game using Deathwatch. So, here's her big chance!

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