Any Port in a Storm

The mutant bears his heresy on the outside. The traitor hides it in his soul!
— Evocation to the Immortal Emperor

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Rollando's comm bead starts working again, so he contacts his companions. The group led by Aenid starts moving forward from Engineering towards the Bridge and the Geller field generator, gathering two dozen survivors along the way.

When they reach the Bridge, they find all doors sealed. Sanctus Machina detects that the garbled readings indicate that life support is off-line on the bridge – the temperature seems to be at several hundred degrees. Calpurnia tells him to show her how to open the bridge door, then to head with the rest of the group for the Geller field generator while she and Junior Purser Darl check for emergency pods.

The Bridge is a furnace, and after fire suppression kicks in, no survivor from the watch can be found. Darl stares for a moment, then murmurs: “I'm taking command.”

Meanwhile, Aenid, Sanctus Machina, Baronet Riksdag, and the rest of the survivors continue towards the Geller field generator. The place is a slaughter house; the generator seems to have been hit by something large repeatedly. Rollando meets with them, giving a brief update. Sanctus Machina manages to stabilize the situation for the moment, although the ship is still tumbling through the Warp.

Junior Purser Darl asks everyone to reconvene in a ready-room near the Bridge. She suggests that the wounded go receive treatment while she goes to check on the life signs in the cargo holds. Rollando suggests sending a servo-skull to reconnoitre first. The servo-skull shows a group of about 2,000 slaves from Iocanthos huddled in there.

While the more damaged – Aenid, Calpurnia and Baronet Rieksdag – go to the infirmary, Rollando and Sanctus Machina head down to the hold to free the prisoners. The Iocanthans recognize Rollando as one of the heroes who defeated the Crow Father a year ago, and rally around him.

Darl asks Rollando to organize the survivors into search parties to locate survivors and scrounge resources; she asks Sanctus Machina to direct the surviving technical personnel into effecting repairs. When they emerges from the infirmary, Darl asks Aenid to organize and direct ship security, and Calpurnia to investigate the situation. Between the two of them, Aenid and Calpurnia figure that when the Misericord emerged from the Warp near Port Wander, cultist caused the incident at the shuttle bay as a distraction to sabotage several systems, including setting up the frenzon injection into the air ducts and planting charges around the Bridge and several other strategic locations.

Several months go by as they try to limp the ship back to a semblance of functionality, with the small number of survivors the only reason that remaining life support suffices. Aenid manages to root out the last pockets of Chaos cultists. Calpurnia discovers that an organization called the Brotherhood of Hayte was paid by some other, murkier organization – mentioning Aenid, Rollando and Calpurnia specifically by name and singling them as “not to be killed.” Rollando shapes the ship militia into a well-organized group, and Sanctus Machina nurses the ship systems past their reasonable lifespan.

Sanctus is convinced that once they take the ship out of Warp, it will not be able to go anywhere anymore – and Sepheris Secundus does not have any sufficient facilities to effect repairs of this scale, so resources will have to be brought in. The Misericord will probably be beached for years.

Sanctus Machina has the dubious honour of having to pilot the ship out of Warp space and acquits himself with great skill, emerging on a trajectory that will take them near Sepheris Secundus.

Junior Purser Darl asks to speak to Aenid in private. She says that all the Iocanthos workers are indentured to various noble houses and conglomerates on Sephiris Secundus and will be snatched as soon as they are in orbit. Darl is unhappy with this, as they have worked hard and deserve better, but she does not want to be in breach of contract. Aenid takes the issue back to her fellow acolytes, pointing out that they have the Inquisitorial authority to order the servants kept on board, but also a mission to investigate on Sephiris Secundus.

Once they are in orbit, the conglomerates demand to take receipt of their cargo, including the human cargo. Calpurnia, who holds the writ of Inquisition for this planet, dourly states that the Iocanthos slaves must stay on the Misericord for now; she intends to play bad cop to Aenid and Rollando's good cops. At any rate, the 2,000 prisoners are a drop in the bucket of Sephiris Secundus' fantastically inefficient and deadly resource extraction system.

The acolytes receive a planet-side transmission from Proctor Noles Rotlan of the Adeptus Arbites, who requested Inquisitorial intervention. He says things have gone from bad to worse since he sent his request. He offers to send his shuttle to collect them and take them to Precinct 14. Sanctus Machina offers to go visit the Adeptus ad Astra Telepathica to send an astropathic message to request assistance for the Misericord while the acolytes speak with Proctor Rotlan.

The planet is bitterly cold, and the Precinct is small and crowded. Proctor Rotlan provides an overview of the situation. Twenty years ago, a rebellion of miners and mutants led by Baron Ulbrexis and a group called the Broken Chains, threatened the security of Sephiris Secundus by disrupting the production of the Harrow mine; if it could render the planet unable to pay its imperial taxes, the Imperium would replace the government. The rebellion was widely popular but it failed to bring in Imperial intervention and the leaders were executed.

About three years ago, a similar but more violent uprising started, again at the Harrow; this time, the mutants seems to have the support of one or more rogue or xenos psykers. They left victims horribly melded into rock. The new rebellion frightens the workers, unlike the previous one. The rare pict recordings of one attack showed a particular mutant which was positively identified as Assod Morrir, one of the leaders of the Broken Chains revolt 20 years ago (who was "confirmed dead" during the suppression of that original uprising and has also been shot several times in the last three years.) However, all evidence including picts and bodies was destroyed during an attack after Rotlan sent his request to the Holy Inquisition.

Calpurnia works a few different possibilities:

  • The mutants, perhaps unhinged, are pursuing the same strategy as 20 years ago, but have pulled out all the stops.
  • The mines were played out or soon to be and taxes would fall short, so the conglomerates decided to cover the problem by blaming another rebellion.
  • The conglomerates are doing more than just employing mutants, they're actually breeding them in the hopes of getting better extraction (the melding power) but something went horribly wrong and necessitated a cover-up (or creating crazed, murderous mutants.)
  • The Ruinous Powers are simply out to create more trouble and using the mutants and miners to do so.
  • Xenos or rogue psykers are using the Sephiris Secundus situation to harm the Imperium, perhaps planning to use an upcoming flare-up as a distraction.

Proctor Rotlan warns the acolytes that their liaison, Captain Movern Hernandez of the Queen's Scourges, is a sadistic and corrupt bully. They should be meeting him the next day.

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