A thousand shades or more…

Amidst the piracy and slowly gathering war, yet another misery is visited upon the Imperial citizens of the sector. Xenos warriors in dark armour, the stuff of nightmares given form composed of blades and razor edges. Spikes, screams and a vile hunger for suffering and souls. Headed by their terrible Archon, the Dark Eldar strike forth across the sector, making their raids here and there. Some are taken for sport, others for their very souls and some are taken for other far more unwholesome purposes indeed…

There is a small mercy in that none of these raids match the infamy of Krypte but worryingly, the raids seem to be moving to some sort of design. The Archon it seems has not given up on his fascination with those of the Navis Nobilite and so his warriors seek out warp eyes as hungrily as they do the souls of men. As is their way, the dark kin prey upon the weak, striking at far flung colonies and fleeing before they can be brought to anything remotely approaching organised resistance or a fair fight.

Yet all is not lost.

Some of those far flung colonies have strange saviours, wild looking Eldar riding gigantic lizard like creatures. They descend upon their dark kin with savage war cries and when they depart, they leave only the heads of the defeated raiders upon the bounds of the Imperial settlement. Each grisly pile in turn bears a sign, written in neat, if halting, Imperial Gothic.

“To the Ray-nar”

Harlequin troupes have been spotted throughout the sector as well, each moving about their own business. Another step in their eternal dance. Sometimes they visit uninhabited worlds, other times they bring their dances to the worlds of the Imperium of man. Those who watch such things come to note that no planet visited by the troupes is then raided by the Dark Eldar. So pronounced is this that it actually comes to disrupt the pattern of their raiding.

Beyond this, the Tau have reached out further, sending a number of diplomatic missions into Imperial space. The vast majority of these have been rebuffed however, though some remain, being entertained or perhaps even heeded by certain figures. Beyond this, the ships of the Tau expeditionary force have begun to mobilise, drawing together into what appears to be a fleet distribution, their overall intentions remaining a mystery for now.

Across the sector rumours travel of strange creatures coming from the holds of trading ships. Black, purple and grey. They are not given name, but death comes with them for sure. Anchorages, ships and colonies, those outlying the edge of the sector slowly begin to go dark, one by one…

And in the asylums and hospices…

The mad and the dying both come to agree on one thing.

The Pilgrim is coming.

War across the stars…

Our struggle is born of Chaos.

Back and forth we go across the stars, the light of the Imperium of Man pushing back against the hateful darkness that surrounds it, seeking to infect and destroy all that is good and right in the galaxy.

The nature of our foe is eternal and so too must our vigilance be likewise.

Currently we hold the line, the heroes of the Iron Star Consortium and their associates have used their influence and prowess to martial the Imperial forces across the sector. There have been victories and losses, purges and battles both across planets and the stars. Slowly but surely the Imperial war machine is rousing itself as it did decades before, the call for crusade has gone out and slowly it grows louder and louder with each passing day.

It starts with increased anti-piracy patrols seeking out those who seek to take that which is not there. The sector governor himself declares that the scourge of piracy must be brought to an end across the sector and perhaps this has been effective, for now.

Despite their defeat upon Esramir, the forces of the Blood God are reenergised, perhaps they too have heard the call for Crusade and take pleasure in the anticipation of the escalation of conflict across the sector. Under their bloody handed warlord, Drahkr the soldiers of Khorne have sallied forwards, their raids taking skulls to set before the throne of their lord as far afield as Reinhold and Lavix IV. Swift ships bearing the brass mark convey frenzied raiders across the sector, killing and taking as they will before vanishing back into the darkness between the stars.

The forces of the changer of ways, mercurial and mysterious continue to prowl the edges of the sector. They are seeking something, some terrible advantage for the war to come. Scout ships and cultists bearing the mark of the every burning flame and the roaring serpent dog the heels of the Iron Star fleet, seeking to beat them to the next stellar engram.

The plague upon Chelm is stamped out with ruthless efficiency, yet the followers of the pox lord are nowhere to be found. Surely they are not defeated, not this easily. No, more likely it is that they are hiding somewhere. Laying low while they lick their festering wounds and plot their revenge. For the will of Grandfather Nurgle is not easily undone.

The Queen of Ravens is brought to battle across the sector. Her fleet clashes with Iron Star interests and pirates alike. Yet for all of this, it is not for nought that this champion of darkness is named a queen. Her ships step up their raids, switching their focus from military targets to economic ones, burning a trail of smashed anchorages and looted convoys across the face of the sector. Military analysts speak of a worrying pattern, something they know to be behind her actions and yet it is something they cannot quite yet fathom out. Indeed, for all the vaunted anti-piracy work of the Imperial navy it is oft the case that all they find is the latest kill by the ravens.

And of their ships?

Darkness there and nothing more

All across the watchtower…

Captain Van Garrett’s bondsman shuffled towards him. The man was tall and usually walked with the bounding gait of someone who had been born in the void, a career spacer that had not felt the touch of real dirt beneath his boots in decades, if at all. But today he shuffled, he shuffled because he knew that he brought ill news and to bring ill news to Van Garrett was to risk invoking the captain’s ire and that was a swift way to find yourself taking a little trip out of the airlock, without a void suit or indeed the mercy of a pistol. Going out into the black was not as quick a death as was often made out and although in truth it was a matter of seconds, those seconds could feel like an eternity for sure.

Clearly the bondsman preferred the idea of the pistol…

The captain didn’t even look at the proffered data slate, he knew what it was going to say and could not quite bring himself to make it real by reading it, even to himself. Another loss, another ship taken. It’s cargo looted and taken who knew where. If he was lucky it was the pirates, they would oft let a crew live if they were Imperials or at the very least not followers of the ruinous powers. If he was unlucky, it was the followers of the ruinous powers and another of his crews were likely shrieking their last in some foul blood pit somewhere…


Van Garrett laughed at that, he had to laugh at something else he might have wept for the damage being done to his bottom line. He was one once, back in another life before he had managed to acquire a writ. That legitimised him apparently, made him a privateer. Some called men like him “associated traders” bound to the destiny of a given rogue trader dynasty or the like, but that was what it was at the end of the day. Selling out the law as it were.


Between them and the increased naval patrols, it was a wonder any business was getting done at all.

The old captain took solace in but one fact, his misery was shared. Across the sector something had stirred up every cutthroat and buccaneer for light years around. They hunted fat Imperial merchantmen as readily as the sought out xeno-form ships and the predatory ships of Chaos. All who plied the stars for their trade, whether they made their gelt honestly or dishonestly had come to know loss at the hands of the pirates. There simply was no explaining it, perhaps it was all this talk of crusade, stirring them up to spin gold while they could before the sector went to hell in hand cart. Maybe it was something else, something in the air…

What really set Van Garrett on edge was the songs.

They were singing about it.

From Seraph to Arkangel, voices could be heard raised in the old songs, songs he had not heard for years. Songs that stirred a man’s blood and set him on the path that lead to death if you were unlucky or mountains of gelt, litres of rotgut and plenty of wenches, if the Emperor was smiling upon you. He had heard tell of it from other captains, old contacts and the like. Some had become “respectable” men like himself, others still worked on the wrong side of the law. There were no shortage of men looking to sign on, to leave it all behind and see what they could take from the stars with a blaster in one hand and a sword in the other.

Legends were being made out there.

Crews he had heard of, real demi-throne outfits that barely even saw the glimmer of gold half the time, were being sung of like they were heroes. Like they actually meant something.

Van Garrett thought about that as he finally brought himself to read the slate with a sigh. Another loss projection, ship and cargo this time. Shaking his head he sighed once more, the tune slowly coming to his lips unbidden. How did that song go again?

Something…something…pieces of eight…

…Silver and gold…something…state…

Old words.

Powerful in their own way.

His bondsman looked at him curiously, slowly coming into fill the blanks, singing out the words he missed. That was it, steady now lads, heave ho, heave ho…

Others outside the chamber caught the song and soon it was carried through the ship, from prow to stern, gun decks to galleys…

There was only one thing for it.

Van Garrett gave the order as the warrant of association went up in flames, using it as he did to light one of the blackroot cigars he favoured.

“Strike these trading colours, unfurl the guns and make ready the engines, we’re going across the line lads!”

If you can’t beat them…

Bishops and Pawns

The cries of the faithful went up across the spires of Milites Gravi, inscrutable to the common masses who knew not the poetic beauty of High Gothic. Not that an understanding of that noble tongue was needed to understand what was occurring. A planet wide lament, the cardinal has passed from this world to sit at the right hand of the Emperor with all the faithful and saints. None know how the great man passed, only that he has gone on to glory. Naturally stories are abound. Some say he met his end killing a thousand demons, like the famous victory of Futhark. Some say that he found martyrdom at the hands of the vile green skin and others whisper that his sacrifice allowed for the rescue of an entire planet of endangered Imperial citizens.

In the sanatoriums and asylums, they scream out that the Pilgrim is coming…

As the Ecclesiarchs sing their requiem mass, roving bands of penitents wander the cobbled precincts of Milites Gravi, flagellating themselves bloody and chanting the name of the departed cardinal so they can be sure that the Emperor himself, seated upon the Golden Throne of Terra knows it for sure. Common men kneel in the chapels and offer their meagre prayers in Low Gothic and factory cant. Less scrupulous men offer relics of the cardinal, proclaiming that he is sure to be sainted soon enough. Apparently the great man at had least two hundred fingers judging by their sales…

In the high cathedral, men and women of the rank of Abbot or above are called into the basilica of the faithful, there to commune and choose the next cardinal. Behind them servitors seal the entrances with adamant beams and plasticrete so that none may enter and none may leave until a new leader for the faithful is chosen. Sometimes this is a swift process, other times not so much. All keep in mind the tragedy of the passing of Cardinal Davarian, whose passing caused such great upheaval that no less than seven Abbots starved to death before a successor was eventually chosen.

Outside of the basilica, Mortariat reapers and sisters militant patrol the streets, offering the Emperor’s peace to those too disturbed and distraught by the passing of the cardinal. All the while looking to the stars as they know well that Crusade is soon to be calling and that the faith must have a leader sooner rather than later of the forces of the Ecclesiarchy are to make a truly meaningful contribution to the coming war.


The Imperial Prosperity was a great old beast, they simply didn’t make them like her any more. Sadly that was true, the forge world that held the secret of creation of similar ships was lost under suspicious circumstances. Atomic accident the sector scuttlebutt said, something darker, the drunks in the wine sinks of Arkangel said. Either way, the truth was obscured by things in red robes and gone was gone. A blow to the Imperium to be sure but one that served to further enhance the legend of the Imperial Prosperity.

Pirates called her a gilded pleasure barge, always on some errand transporting some great treasure here or there. Rumour had it that if you could match guns with the Prosperity and come out on top, you could buy yourself a seat upon the Council of Terra itself with no questions asked. Not that any reaving crew had ever gotten aboard to find out. Certainly any crew that had ever come back anyway.

Navy men called her a good omen, when they were out of the hearing of bosuns and discipline masters of course. Superstition was a form of heresy after all, but one that had plagued the seas, when there were still seas upon Terra, long before man had launched himself into the stars. Plus, it was one thing to believe that demons were out to get you, it was quite another to see them gnawing at the Geller field when you translated into the warp from the relative safety of real space.

Those bound to the soil of planets across the sector take note of the arrival of the Imperial Prosperity. To the average man it means nothing, just another pointless news article obscuring the latest stadia scores. To those sat on velvet cushions in trading houses and parlours however it represents an opportunity. Not that anyone is exactly sure what that opportunity is however.

Where the Imperial Prosperity plies the stars, great things are said to happen.

Terrible things perhaps, but great none the less.

The ship it seems, is not named idly…

A criminal by any other name

Watch commander Zarkis reviewed the latest surveillance vids.


He tossed a slate aside.


He tossed another one over his shoulder.


That one slammed down against his desk as he leaned back and exhaled a cloud of heavy Iho smoke. It was against regs to smoke in an Arbites precinct building, but this far from the capital, Zarkis was like unto the Emperor himself and could afford to bend a few regs here and there when he wanted to.

“There you are…”

Another drag, another could of thick smoke that served to make the vid print even grainier than it was before. The watch commander shook his head at that, 41 millennia of technological advancement. Man could travel faster than light, fabricate foodstuffs out of particles in the very air and manufacturer weaponry capable of cracking planetary crusts but he could it seems produce one clear picture of a wanted criminal.

Studying the picture, Zarkis frowned and lit another Iho stick, the pict was poor quality. Too poor to make a positive ident some would say. Not Zarkis though, it was the eyes that did it for him. Two deep, seemingly soulless pits. The eyes of a killer for sure. Some might have said that was down to the pict itself, but Zarkis knew better. The Alexander case had been cold for years, sealed under the writ of the commissariat, penal legion apparently. But if that bastard Lex Alexander was sweating it out in some penal dog company somewhere, why were their picts of him lurking in down hive Seraphim Fall?

Zarkis was a simple man, few things motivated him. There was his wife, his love of the God-Emperor, a twenty year Iho stock habit, his local stadia team and a prominent sense of fair play. He’d been lucky to rise to the position of watch commander, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time when he and his squad had fished some noble big wig out of the fire during the last big scholam riots six years back. He worked hard, mostly so he could retire in peace and that his sons would have something more than a life manning some assembly line somewhere to look forward to. With that in mind, he often kept his head down, making sure troublesome cases went elsewhere to other precincts.

But this one.

Lex Alexander…

There was just something about it, old man Praxis hadn’t been too bad to the people as he recalled, indeed Alexis wasn’t half bad either, certainly a damn sight easier on the eye at the very least. But this bastard, this bastard had ruined it all and now he sought to drag his sister down with him. Zarkis had met her once at a state dinner, he’d been near to the end of the line of officials the governor had met and made nice to. She had kissed him on the cheek that noble he had saved was some distant cousin apparently and for a moment Zarkis had forgotten that wife of his. But he had never forgotten the governor’s kiss.

Besides, rumour had it that the bronze faced bitch Sanuto would be posting some sort of heavy bounty on old Lex Winter.

Not that this factored into Zarkis’s sense of fair play.

Not at all.

The comm unit flashed to light with a gesture and his voice reached out to his adjunct across the hall as he fed the pict into the unit.

“I want this splashed across the sector, send it out to the other precincts. I want Lex Alexander made famous across the sector before the cycle is out…”

From the endless sea she rises…

Seraph has never been a calm world, it is very much a place of passions where false hearts are worn upon tailored sleeves of silk and velvet, all the better for fighting duels you see. Some say it is this upheaval, this passion for change that makes the world and its moons a centre of innovation for the sector. Certainly the natives would agree with this statement and aim to draw an honour blade on anyone saying otherwise. Outsiders however call the natives flighty and short sighted at best and one step away from full blown secessionism at worst.

No wonder the Inquisition came to Seraph.

That upheaval the natives are so fond of?

Sometimes they are not so fond of it.

Not when it comes in the form of the scions of powerful houses being dragged from their beds in the dead of night to face trial and the burning time at the stake.

For all their crimes, real or imagined, Seraph weeps for those lost sons and daughters.

Perhaps none more so than the Lady Rachel Sanuto, recent survivor of some deadly massacre which claimed a number of her household and their attendants, perpetrated by assailants unknown. A woman of lesser mettle might have been crippled by such a bloody occurrence, but not the Lady Sanuto. Keeping her emotions hidden behind a bronze mask, they are after all in this season, Sanuto has turned her attention to one Alexis Magdalene Alexander, recently planetary governor of Seraph.

Caught amidst a scandal of her own making, Governor Alexander has chosen to recuse herself from political life for the time being, leaving High Adept Sabina of the Adminstratum overseeing her affairs for now. Just as well really, the wanted terrorist known as “Winter” has been sighted across Seraph and there are even rumours that Sanuto herself will soon be posting a bounty, dead or alive, for any willing to attempt to capture that particular thorn in her side.

Not content with attempting to use her influence to pardon her murderous brother, Alexis Alexander is rumoured to have brought the Inquisition down upon her own people and used their holy work as cover for her own purge of rivals and dissenters. Seraph loves a good scandal, especially one concerning their beloved governor and so the salons are awash with talk. Alexis having been seen entertaining a known Inquisitor for afternoon tea in her personal apartments a number of times…

Worse still, the game of houses has reached a fever pitch with various nobles attempting to fill the gaps left by the recent purges. Hungry eyes look up across the table and seek a better place closer to the fire and meet. Rumour has it that Lady Sanuto is even looking to propose to the High Adept in order to further cement her position and make it all the more difficult for Alexis to return to power…

Naturally such games are not above the notice of even the common man, riots and protests have become common across Seraph. Though it has been noted that some of the most open dissenters, rabble rousers seeking to rally the people against Alexis Alexander have simply vanished, only to turn up days later quite dead with not a mark upon them or a shred of evidence as to who the killer might be. Some whisper about the hand of that Inquisitor the former governor is so fond of being at work. Some talk of the game of houses at play and others speak of darker things still.

Just as Lady Rachel Sanuto seeks to rock the boat and capitalise upon the resulting upheaval so too does Morwen Zentil, long time fiend and rumoured lover of Alexis Alexander seeks to stabilise it. Duels are being fought, influence matching against influence, battle lines are being drawn between the houses.

Seraph stands upon a knife edge.

Soon a choice must be made.