Ship Watch

The Emperor sees. The Emperor knows.

The acolytes buy some off-the-rack formal attires in preparation for their ship's duty.

They receive the data Rollando requested concerning repeat offenders; they tend to be reprocessed as servitors or executed. Only three recidivists remain: Callidon Ridus of the Guild of Refreshment (criminal negligence); Novia Aponia of the Seekers after Loss (assault); and Arl the Lightbringer of the Guild of Lightbringers (arson). Now all three are listed as "of the Guild of Cogs."

As for the rest of the information requested on cargo loaded, processing, and sales, LePlar reports: "Sir and Madams, the records you asked for cannot be compiled until after the vessel reaches port at Scintilla. The records are extensive, and scattered between various guilds managing various cargo areas." The main cargo types are Ghostfire pollen from Iocanthos to Scintilla, weapons and luxury goods from Scintilla to Sepheris Secundus and Iocanthos, and ore from Sepheris Secundus (processed into weapons) to Iocanthos and Scintilla. The acolytes decide to prioritize the Ghostfire pollen cycle in their information search.

The next night, Aenid is on watch when half a dozen thugs from the Chaliced Commissariat kick the door in, led by Nixius Fang. He demands their papers and documentation and examines them. He questions Aenid regarding her purpose and is very interested in Xanthia. He asks Xanthia if she serves the Emperor faithfully, without question. When she says yes, he slaps her across the face.

"How about now?" he asks. "Do you serve the Emperor?"

"Yes," she answers.

"Psykers are filthy creatures, are they not?"

"No."

Each time she refuses to agree, he slaps her again. He orders her to repeat that "Psykers are filthy creatures." Instead, she answers: "You are a filthy fucking pig," and lashes out with a psychic bolt. Several of the Chaliced Commissariat collapse, but Nixius Fang stands fast. Calpurnia yanks on Xanthia's leash, making a show of disciplining her.

Fang snickers: "Your psyker is in need of training." He turns to depart; when his men don't get up fast enough, he shoots one dead and leaves him behind.

Aenid admonishes Xanthia. Soon after, while the door is being repaired, Vownus Kaede drops by to find out what happened. In light of the attention they attracted, he suggests that when the time comes, he may have the acolytes act as the distraction rather than take on that role himself. Calpurnia is not too pleased, asks what's in it for them — they too need to complete their mission. He promises to complete it for them, but she is not convinced. He waves the matter aside; perhaps things will not come to this point anyway. When he leaves, Aenid discreetly follows him; he makes no effort to be stealthy, walking right past Rykehuss, and goes drinking.

The next day, Junior Purser Darl comes to escort the acolytes to their duty, an honour she says few Beyonders are ever given. They have been assigned to the bridge watch, from the change from Night Watch to Day Watch to changing back Night Watch. They can discuss with other Watch members but not the bridge officers or crew. Violation of the rules can result in being sentenced to the Void; she instructs them to follow the lead of other Watch members.

They are escorted to a fancy vehicle that goes shooting off down the corridors, taking them to the bridge of the Misericord. Outside the bridge are bleacher seats where they are instructed to sit; the seats are filling up with crew members, no passengers. Everything is very ornate and guilded; banners are changed, crew members walk off and on the bridge. Everything seems elaborately choreographed.

There is much conversation among the Watch, and many mention that some saw a Bringer of Silence before the ship's departure. Aenid reports that they actually saw this, which causes some excitement; she is quizzed for details and there is much speculation.

Calpurnia tries to stay out of the conversation and observe, both bridge choreography and Watch reactions. The bridge choreography is incomprehensible, but rich in pageantry. Most of the crew seem either bored by the whole thing, or happy to have a day off.

Rollando chats up his seat neighbours, trying to lead the conversation towards his repeat offenders; he asks various people about their guilds. He learns that the Guild of Refreshment specializes in replacing air filters, the Seekers after Loss specialize in finding atmosphere leaks (but not repairing them), and the Guild of Lightbringers specializes in supplying portable lights. Finally, the Guild of Cogs are individuals who have replaced moving parts that have worn out and not yet been replaced.

He finds a member of the Guild of Lightbringers and hears about Arl, who loved to set things on fire and set up his lights in the most spectacular fashion possible. However, he never killed anyone, which is why he was merely sentenced to the Guild of Cogs.

At the end of the Day Watch, Junior Purser Darl comes to get the acolytes and escort them back. She says the duties are assigned by chance, by the Guild of Chance, who also assign all events subject to random chance. When she drops them off, she hands them duty pins, given to those who have served aboard the Misericord, in the shape of a small dagger.

They review the repeat offender files a bit more to find their current duties. Arl has been assigned as a tertiary backup pressure valve in the lower aft reactor; for the last 5 years. Novia has been a bulkhead sensor for 8 years, and Callidon has been a shelving support structure for 22 years.

As for the Ghostfire pollen, as far back as they can look in the records, the Imperial Guard's demand and purchases have been rising, leaving less and less for other purchasers at steadily higher prices. Captain Serren Travis has also been buying more and more. The current trip also took on a higher than usual load in Iocanthos, suggesting that one of its infrequent side trips will be included in this circuit.

By the time they reach Scintilla, Xanthia has to keep to their quarters because the preacher has been whipping the crowds into a frenzy of hatred against psykers. A bounty has been announced on a "rogue psyker" — the posted sign showing a picture of Vownus Kaede. The night after they drop in-system, a quiet knock raps at their door — Kaede himself. He announces that he has found the coven of psykers — ages five to eight.

He asks Aenid to accompany him so she can assess the situation and how to move the "cargo" off-ship. She memorizes the convoluted route down to the lower, gloomier levels of the ship and to an orphanage of the Sisters of the Void. The Misericord will be docking in three days; the children must be moved then. Kaede plans to "lead Inquisitor Rykehuss on a merry chase" on the day of their arrival as a distraction while the acolytes move the human cargo. He has a shuttle on board that can take them to the planet. Finally, he cautions Aenid against hurting members of the Chaliced Commissariat.

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