The Harbinger of Glory dropped out of warpspace on the edge of the Furibundus system. The furious power of the raging star was much too distant to affect the ship or it’s crew but it’s unnatural seething always gives a crewman fitful dreams…
It was half a day before vox-contact was made with Footfall. A voice over the vox requested the ships identification and clearance, threatening dire consequences if the ship were to approach within weapons range without providing either. Soon, the Lady-Captain announced herself and her glorious ship, with her right of clearance being the sacred warrant of the Black dynasty. The voice at Footfall Void Traffic Control, obviously used to such proclamations, simply replied that the longshoremen of Footfall would be ready to receive “the offering”, before signing off.
Lady-Captain Aurora Black paled somewhat. No-one on the bridge seemed to know what the hell he was referring to. With a sudden burst of clarity, Orbest Dray was summoned to the bridge – surely he, who had passed through Footfall many times, would know what was being referred to.
Dray described the ancient custom, that any Rogue Trader passing through Footfall is expected to gift the Liege of Footfall with food and stone, to allow for the continued survival and growth of Dewain’s Footfall. He also explained that the quantity was entirely dependant on the generosity of the Rogue Trader. Aurora Black immediately gave orders to prepare an offering of the minimum amount without appearing too stingy!
The next hours passed uneventfully as the ship made it’s way through the asteroid field towards the void habitation of Footfall and the primary docking station. Various traffic was detected in the system, including a vast Cruiser class vessel and several Frigate class escorts. A powerful individual was obviously at Footfall.
The senior crew quickly split tasks – Sigmund Severius, ship’s confessor, would supervise the offloading of the rescued pilgrims, Magos “Big” Bertha, Explorator and Enginseer Prime, would be in charge of arranging repairs with the local Mechanicus and investigating where to obtain replacement crew, while the Captain would speak to the locals about Footfall. Orbest’s information was decades old or based on rumours heard on Port Wander, so some local clarification would be useful. To this end, a runner was sent ahead to pass around some “gifts” from the Lady-Captain and ensure that tongues would wag.
Sigmund quickly got to work supervising the unloading of the pilgrims, who almost started to assemble a camp at the Footfall longshore. He kept their spirits raised and provided a menacing enough visage that the locals did not try to harass them… yet.
The Lady-Captain and the Magos were about to speak to a group of longshoremen when they were suddenly approached by a xeno, apparant leader of a group of a dozen xenos of the same type. It’s skin was rough with small, barbed spines, and great elongated quills extended from the top of it’s head. From it’s beak-like face it began to emit a warbling, almost bird-like sound.
It took a moment, but the Captain and Bertha were able to understand the Xenos speech – it was in fact speaking a heavily-accented Low Gothic. It claimed to be a mercenary, and would like to offer to be guides and bodyguards for the Lady-Captain during their stay on Footfall. Meanwhile, Sigmund Severius began to notice the commotion and approached the group. His training in understanding the myriad variations of Low Gothic used across the galaxy aids him in understanding these despicable xenos. The Lady-Captain, amused, used her Confessor to help her negotiate with the aliens, managing to secure their services at rock-bottom prices.
However, as the negotiations conclude, a group of drunk voidfarers approach the group. They begin to shout about how mixing with aliens degrades not only this group of spacers but the whole Imperium. That they are a mockery of what a Rogue Trader should be! Sadly for these voidfarers, Aurora Black’s upbringing on the world of Malfi, and her survival through a particularly vicious vendetta, leaves her short tempered at those who would insult her or her companions. With a snap of her fingers, she beckons the aliens to “Prove your value”.
The aliens spring forward, their knotted muscles moving them with fantastic rapidity. The aliens attacked the drunkards with ruthless savagery, and without firing their strange weapons, slaying them in short order. As the last of the drunken voidfarers is put down, the aliens leap forward. A great commotion went up amongst the crowd that had gathered to watch the brief combat, with many stalking off while filling the air with disgusted curses, and others drawing in with morbid fascination. The aliens squatted over those they had slain, and each is butchered his victim with a wickedly curved knife. Someone in the crowd vomited loudly, while others cheered as if watching some twisted bloodsport. As one, the aliens let out a warbling cry, plunging their claws into the wounds they had cut. With the terrible sound of rending meat, the aliens drew out the dripping organs of the defeated, and each took a single bite of the still pulsing meat.
Their disgusting ritual complete, they take up positions behind the Lady-Captains party. The Confessor is most displeased…
Not wishing to be party to cavorting with xenos butchers, Sigmund heads to the Chapel of the Third Congregation, bringing with him the leader of the pilgrims aboard the Penitent Traveller. For most pilgrims and worshippers, this is a dangerous trip through the void in ramshackle “gigs”. Sigmund is able to locate a particularly trustworthy gig-man and safely traverses the void to the Chapel. Though his cramped craft has no windows, this chapel is an imposing, void-pitted structure of spreading bastions and leering gargoyles that floats unconnected to the rest of Footfall. Within, every surface is crowded with statues, sepulchres, and saints’ shrines. Taking a moment to pray and receive blessings, Sigmund spoke to a priest. Telling the woeful tale of the pilgrims, he was ushered to meet the Ecclesiarchal leader, an elderly man known as the 93rd Congregant.
Sigmund agreed a deal to have the pilgrims housed and fed, but only on the condition that the Harbinger of Glory offloaded sufficient stores to feed them for several months. The 93rd Congregant shared with Sigmund the Chapel’s need for knowledge of worlds ripe for settlement and the need for ships that are capable of ferrying pilgrims to such worlds. His business done and valuable information obtained, Sigmund returned to the ship.
While this was going on, the Magos Bertha had left her Lady-Captain and, escorted by a xenos bodyguard, proceeded down one of the travel tubes that wrap around the chains that anchor the different stones of Footfall together. The Mechanicus shield shrines are cubic, metal Machine Temples marked with the raised cog of the Adeptus Mechanicus upon each face and linked to Footfall by a coiling umbilical passage. The blind Magos that run this shrine called upon his companions to join him in speaking with Magos Bertha. The Three Magi of Footfall, one missing his eyes, one deaf to the world and one only emitting grunts from beneath his rebreather mask, assembled to hear her. Well, if they could.
Once assembled they noted her alien companion with disdain. Bertha requested additional tech priests, for her tech-teams had taken a few losses recently, and she wished to be well-provisioned for her next trip into the void. The Three Magi agreed with almost unseemly haste, picking out two Tech-Priests to join Bertha – one who they noted was a dullard in need of having his mind-broadened and the other who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Davin and Calixig joined the ship. Almost as an afterthought, Magos Bertha inquired after where she may be able to obtain properly sanctified repairs, and learned that the Mechanicus kept a repair team at the docks in order to help fund their operations. Though unable to compete with the hereteks on price or speed, at least their teams gave the job the holy care it deserved. Her business complete, Magos Bertha took her quaking Tech-Priests and her xeno bodyguard back to the ship.
The Lady-Captain, accompanied by her entourage, patrolled along the Footfall longshore, dipping in and out of shops. While she secretly sought the arcane digi-weapons, she pretended to most that she was looking for an autopistol of sufficient quality for one of her birth. In a far corner of the longshore, in a weapons shop stinking of incense and sacred oils, the Lady-Captain purchased both an ornate autopistol decorated with golden chasing and inset jewels, and a small digi-flamer, which despite it’s lack of ornamentation was worth far more, and which she immediately slipped onto one of her fingers.
As she left this storekeeper, who laughed maniacally at the new fortune in his hands, a servoskull flittered from above the streaming crowds of the Footfall longshore. Stopping suddenly in front of the Lady-Captain, her bodyguards prepared their weapons. However, the servoskull was no threat, and begins to project a holo-image. The static-filled image resolved into a monstrous brute, a vaguely man-shaped creature consisting almost entirely of exquisitely crafted bionic augmentations. Even his face has been re-crafted into a stylised death’s head of chased silver, though the eyes remain disturbingly human. When he speaks, however, his voice is surprisingly soft. “Greetings to the noble Lady-Captain Aurora Black! My name is Tanthus Moross, Liege of Footfall,and it gives me pleasure to welcome you here. You are cordially invited to the Leige’s Court to honour us with your participation in the Offering”
It’s job done, the servo-skull skimmed away across the crowd.
The Lady-Captain headed to the Leige’s Court. Her bodyguards radioed in their destination to security crews at the ship. Sigmund and Bertha, who had met back at the docking bay and shared their progress, decided to follow her to the Leige’s Court.
The Leige’s Court is one of the oldest structures in Footfall. These regal transepts and pillared, ornate halls are where the Liege of Footfall receives those of sufficient importance to warrant a formal welcome. Arriving at the Court, she is ushered through to a room behind the formal hall. This room, more a bordello or boudoir than a true formal meeting-palce is Tanthus Moross’ Audience-Bedchamber. Across the hallway is the Leige himself, his augmented and obese form busy molesting several slave-servants that surround him. Before the Lady-Captain can cross the room she is intercepted by a slim man, with a shaven head and grey bodysuit, carrying a top-of-the-line dataslate. The man introduces himself in an elaborate style familiar to the Lady-Captain as Vladaym Tocara, the Negotiator for the Kasabalica Mission. He tell the Lady-Captain some of his organisations past work with the Black dynasty, and how they are looking for more suppliers and backers. Before he can go into detail the Leige notes the presence of the Lady-Captain in the room and calls her over.
The Lady-Captain and Tanthus Moross exchange some discussion, but the Leige’s swinging temper puts an end to their conversation. His rudeness is noted. At this time, Sigmund and Bertha arrive at the Leige’s Court and join the Lady-Captain in conversation with Vladaym Tocara and another person who is in attendance at the Court: Lord-Admiral Bastille 16th. After a short discussion, where Vladaym promises to appropriately research Bertha and Sigmund so that “he can deliver the appropriate greeting next time” he leaves. Aurora decides to invite Lord-Admiral Bastille 16th to dine aboard the Harbinger of Glory.
Realising that they still need to secure additional crew, the Lady-Captain asks her alien guides whereabouts crew-for-hire may be found. At their urging, they head for an Imperial bar, the “Within His Sight”. There they meet Blade, a mercenary captain who allegedly holds the allegiance of almost 1,000 void-farers of assorted skill. A short while later, a bargain is struck and Blade begins mustering his men to join the crew.
Over the next 6 days, Sigmund oversees the settlement of the pilgrims in the hab-fanes, and then seeks and successfully obtains a replacement GunCutter. Magos Bertha contracts the Mechanicus to construct for her some utility mechadendrites, and they mention that they seek astrographic data of the Koronus Expanse.
The crew host Admiral Bastille 16th for dinner, who tells them some things about the Koronus Expanse, including about run-ins with the dastardly Eldar and of the feud between Aspyce Chorda and Calligos Winterscale. He also tells them of Hadarak Fel – that he has been plying the Koronus Expanse for almost 100 years, though he doesn’t look it, and often plays the fool.
The ship repaired, with only a few complaints by the repair crew of ghosts, and the pilgrims unloaded, and the new crew in their berths, new supplies taken on, and munitions restocked, the ship leaves port!