Alien Menace

Knowledge is power – do not waste it on the masses!
— Evocation to the Immortal Emperor

The acolytes use their position with the Guild of Starlight to come collect DNA samples from all members of Sir Samael's household. They receive full cooperation and do not need the help of the Merciful escort they obtained through Purser Darl. Upon analysis, none of the samples yield any xenos DNA – not even Sir Samael's, which shows only in its pure human form (although it is indeed the same human DNA that was corrupted in the sample taken from the bite marks on dead crewmembers.)

Nevertheless, the decide to confront Medicae Howe by showing him the altered hybridized DNA results. He looks nervous, and not because of the presence of the Merciful but because of the line of questioning. When Commissar Jemadar presses him with accusations, he whispers: “Not so loud, you fools! Don't wake It or we're all dead!” He tells them he will bring them to Sir Samael and have him tell the whole truth but they must not agitate him or threaten him or something terrible will awaken and many will die.

Medicae Howe brings the acolytes to Sir Samael's containment unit and they see a handsome but clearly ill nobleman. He tells them that in his youth he was quite dissipated and trod many forbidden paths, including flirting with knowledge of the Ruinous Powers, and pursuing xenos lore. At one point he found a powerful xenos artefact that offered great boons, but he eventually discovered that the price was alos great. As time passed, he fell increasingly under the control of the artefact and was driven to do terrible things. He came to realize how evil this thing was and decided, as his strength was beginning to fail him, that he must take it outside the confines of the Imperium to die without having the artefact recovered by some other seeker of forbidden power.

Sir Samael does not thing that his death will suffice to destroy the artefact; he has researched what happened to others who found similar items. This is why he wishes to leaves the confines of the Imperium. He believes that the race that left the artefacts did so in vengeance, as a deliberate trap for humans, for only humans are susceptible to them.

Sir Samael adds that the Inquisition's Order Xenos and some more mundane factions seem to be seeking to take the power for themselves. As for the deaths of crew members early in the trip, they happened because he could not find his property in the huge ship, including the “food” he had brought for the trip. He looks intently at each agent, telling them that he can only let them leave if they sincerely agree not to breathe a word of this to anyone until he has left the Imperium; they agree.

They then report to the Twin Captains, saying that while they cannot give any detail, there should be no more crew member deaths. Nevertheless, they ask for Merciful surveillance around Sir Samael's quarters and immediate word of any more strange goings-on.

The trip to Port Wander is expected to take another 20 weeks. In the mean time, the acolytes pursue the Mission Secundus. Aenid goes to sepak to the Sister of the Void and ask them what they know about the persistent rumours of heresy on board. The Sister save children, particularly from Scintilla and Sephirus Secundus, plus any Misericord children who manifest psychic abilities.

Yes, they have heard the stories and the instances of unrest and ad luck that accompany the Misericord in its stops, but can't quite explain it. The Misericord is really old, much older than most ships, not purpose-built as a chartist vessel but refitted from some other use for this. They suspect that for some schemers, the Misericord provides a convenient cover story, and of course the Ghost pollen traffic on Scintilla do cause eruptions of violence when the ship arrives. They mention another ship, the Bountiful Beast, which is much worse, supposedly rife with heresy and cults. As for heresy, it seems to have been rooted out by the Chaliced Commissariat's recent visit, and the crew shows an upsurge in orthodoxy and religious attendance.

With LePlar's assistance, Rollando and Calpurnia investigate the records of ghost pollen and weapon sales aboard the ship. They find that in addition to the Ghost pollen purchases on the trip segment between Iocanthos and Scintilla or directly on Scintilla, Rogue Trader Travius' agents have been purchasing Hellguns manufactured on board every trip for about 20 years – this trip, it's to the tune of 10,000, with 3 power cells each. They're usually purchased on Scintilla, and this time didn't need any transshipment.

The acolytes also ask Purser Darl to provide them with any information on the heresies which were reportedly uprooted by the Chaliced Commissariat.

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