A plain black screen.
"Lord-Captain Black - we will be with you shortly. Prepare yourself."
The voice sounded old, almost grandfatherly in tone. As soon as it was done, an image flashed onto the screen for a few seconds before the message ended.
|The Universal Symbol For "You're Fucked"|
Much running around ensued, trying to hide anything that might be construed as heresy (from the Xenos artifacts the Lord-Captain had acquired, to those she planned to sell on, right up to the "warded" servitor-AIs onboard the Champagne Room).
Eventually, a small ship appeared - clearly not Warp-capable (or only marginally so), pure black against the Void. It docked with the ship, and Claudia ensured she was first in line to welcome the Inquisitor when he entered.
The man who came down the ramp wasn't quite what she was expecting. He looked to be in his sixties, possibly seventies - his thinning white hair was plastered onto his head in a slight comb-over. He limped heavily, supported by an ornate cane (which the Lord-Captain identified as being Wraithbone, the psychic building blocks of most Eldar technology).
He smiled when he saw her, and greeted her warmly. He explained that he had worked alongside her mother on several occasions, and was amazed to see how much she'd grown since he last saw her. He introduced himself as Inquisitor Thaddeus Lethe, of the Ordo Xenos. He had come to pay his respects to Claudia's mother.
Behind him, another figure left the vessel. This one was tall, almost inhumanly thin, and moved with a practised grace that was almost unearthly. He wore simple armour, definitely Xenos in origin, and carried a sword of the finest craftsmanship.
Lethe introduced the figure as Ulthir, his "companion". The Lord-Captain knew that Ulthir was most definitely an Eldar, but he seemed to lack... something. Her newly-found psychic senses did not tingle the same way as they did when faced with the other Eldar. Lethe explained that Ulthir was a rarity amongst his kind - his natural psychic ability did not function, a "Blank" in human terms. Such Eldar are almost unheard of, and Ulthir was cast out from his Craftworld when he came of age. Lethe had found him plying his services as a mercenary, and eventually convinced him to travel with him, doing service for The Imperium.
Claudia had ensured that Inquisitor Lethe's stay would be as comfortable as possible - right through to a tour of the ship, to see how things had changed since her mother's death. He eventually broached the subject of her search for The Pearl - several of the other Rogue Traders who had managed to return empty-handed to Port Wander and Footfall suspected that Claudia was doing far better than themselves.
Reluctantly, she showed Lethe and Ulthir the Star Map - Lethe was fascinated, having never seen a working example of such closely-guarded Eldar tech. Ulthir, however, seemed a little edgy, and eventually excused himself after an argument in Eldar with Lethe. Turns out, he wasn't keen on humans interfering with his people's secrets - though it turned out he couldn't care less about the fate of the people that had abandoned him, but he did care about why the starmap had been broken and cast into the Warp. After some persuasion, he did help Claudia to analyse the starmap further, and to gain some knowledge into its workings, though he maintained a superior air throughout the length of his stay.
Lthe also asked questions of The Champagne Room, and even requested a small tour. He was most fascinated with it, but knew he would need to leave it in her hands - as a Human relic, it was somewhat outside his scope as a member of the Ordo Xenos. Claudia's insistence that she would return it to the Adeptus Mechanicus for study further cemented his trust in the new Scion of the Black Dynasty.
Claudia had began to tire of the Inquisitor's methods and secrecy, and decided on a decisive change of course - to the Halo Stars, just outside true Imperial Space. While she knew that the Inquisition held the highest power inside the Imperium's borders, outside she was the God-Emperor's Hand - and even Lethe could be held to her account.
In theory, at least. Warrants of Trade and Inquisitorial Rosettes are something akin to unstoppable forces and immovable objects - who knows what would happen when one tried to push against the other.
Forgoing her previous etiquette, she took Lethe aside and chewed him out - asking exactly why he was here. Lethe smiled, and told Claudia of all the ways she reminded him of her mother, her temper was the biggest.
He explained that both of them were in highly privileged positions - the Lords of Mankind, held above account to all but the God-Emperor himself. And, with that, there were certain temptations that might spring from answering to no-one. He simply arrived to quell his own personal concerns for the daughter of an old friend, and to ensure that she was still on the straight and narrow path of humanity's Manifest Destiny.
Claudia was unconvinced, but at least she believed his concerns - she simply knew he had other motives for his sudden appearance. Whether it was the Pearl, the Star Map itself, or to simply court her into the service of the Inquisition, she couldn't tell - but, she would find out. Soon enough.