Scourge of Civilization
Skills & Traits: Common Lore (Koronus Expanse, Screaming Vortex), Linguistics (Low Gothic), Trade (Chymist), The Quick and the Dead (+2 Initiative), Awareness, Charm, Command,
Deceive, Medicae, Scholastic Lore (Chymistry, Imperial Warrants, Philosophy), Forbidden Lore
(Daemonology, Heresy, Pirates), Inquiry, Dodge, Commerce, Charm +10, Command
Talents: Air of Authority, Hatred (Renegades), Peer (Schola Progenium), Total Recall, Unshakeable Will, Excessive Wealth, Weapon Training (Las, Primary), Disturbing Voice, Mimic, Iron Discipline
Gear: Chaos symbol pendant, unholy tomes, Abomination Container, The Cord, Disguise kit, Virulent Poison, Conversion Field
Good-Craftsmanship Laspistol = +10
Best-Craftsmanship Sword = +20
Mesh Combat Cloak = +20
- Best Quality Light Power Armour (Auto-Senses, Vox Link, Sustainable Power Source)
|_ Chain Bandoliers
- Best Quality Scythe (Censer Attachment, Mono, Venom Drip, Retracting Blade, Cursed Metal)
- Disguise Kit
Carry: 67kg, Lift: 134kg, Push: 268kg
Advancements: Infamy, Infamy, Toughness, Fellowship, Excessive Wealth, Willpower, Weapon Skill, Strength, Intelligence, Intimidate, Medicae, Polyglot, Crushing Blow, Demagogue, Dodge +10, Deceive +10, +5 Fellowship, +5 Fellowship, Demagogue, Combat Formation
WS 4 BS 2 S 3 T 4 I 3 W 3 A 1 Ld 10 Sv 3+
Wargear: 2 Handed Close Combat Weapon, Power Armour
Special Rules: Unshakeable Will, Preferred Enemy (Renegades), Eternal Warrior, Night Vision/ Acute Sensors, Crushing Blow (Heretic’s close combat attacks have + 1str), Inspire Wrath (At the start of each combat phase, the heretic may make a Leadership test to give him and his squad Preferred Enemy(Everyone) for the rest of the turn.),
The echoing rifle fire that reverberated around the great colosseum was the herald of the violence to come. This echoing blast signified the beginning of the end of the renewed, upstart Cheese dynasty, and a string of conflicts and confrontations that would see the Koronus Expanse rent asunder.
As Sebastian Winterscale, heir of the Winterscale dynasty, holder of the warrant and current ruler of Footfall, crumpled to the ground, his weapon clattering away, a deathly hush fell upon the stadium. The terms were clear: One man, unarmoured close-combat, to the death. There was no doubt that assassination by sniper was a breach of these conditions. Ivendigroth Cheese, the challenger, was already spinning lies in his head for the tidal wave that was about to rise.
And slowly rise it did. Despite being murderers, despots, opportunists and villains of all colours, the “Nobility” of Footfall seemed to consider this occasion as one that required unquestionable honour. Ivendigroth’s title as new ruler of Footfall was already void, and a growing rumble of boos and jeers from the assembled audience was more than enough evidence of that. Clearer cries rang out, defaming Ivendigroth for his cowardice, but as the first few las shots were fired, lifting clouds of dust around Ivendigroth’s feet and even ricocheting off the armour he was still putting back on, the Rogue Trader decided it was time to speak.
“I do not condone the actions of my lieutenant, who has perched himself in the rafters above,” Ivendigroth glanced upwards, but his insubordinate subordinate was already in the ether. As the jeers built again, Ivendigroth continued, “But I know that you will not accept this. Nor would I. So instead I ask you… with Winterscale dead and myself dishonoured, who should now run Footfall?”
The gambit paid off. As good rogue’s do, the eyes of most of the audience lit up, and many gun barrels were raised, not at Ivendigroth, but one another. The firefight that was about to begin was one Footfall would never forget, and with his few allies in tow, Ivendigroth fled the place of his shame.
But the many powers of Footfall are neither forgiving, nor forgetful and within a very short time bounty-hunter ships, Imperial Cruisers of every variety, and opportunists that fell anywhere between them were showing up wherever Ivendigroth fled. As he rent a swath of battles through the Koronus Expanse, Ivendigroth’s power began to collapse. The first and most substantial was the Cheese Dynasty’s warrant of trade. When he reached the first world that refused to accept the legitimacy of his warrant and attempted to apprehend him, it was not lost on the Ex-Rogue Trader that some seriously influential muscle would have been unleashed to see a whole Dynasty’s warrant expunged.
Had he the time or the remaining influence, he’d have done all he could to find out what powerful party was undermining him, and how they had managed to turn sanctioned Imperial cross-hairs upon him. But with limited ability to supply his flagship, his list of problems was only growing. Each close brush with capture saw him lose another asset, be it a planetary ally, a valuable equipment or supply, a brief strategic advantage or even loyal members of his immediate crew. Some were lost to death, apprehension, fear and even, worst of all, betrayal. Within a year Ivendigroth couldn’t even consider himself a Captain, his flagship looming dark and empty over another unfriendly world.
The name Cheese had become synonymous with shame, disrepute, failure and even in some more exaggerated cases, heresy. And yet, other words were beginning to attach themselves to the last of the line. Indestructible, uncatchable, chameleonic, sly, cunning, ruthless, infamous. Every step away from the dynasty life that Ivendigroth had known was forcing him the other way, driving him to adapt and experiment and master skills and techniques he’d considered too underhanded or unethical to try in the past… though he had still considered them. This reinvention by necessity culminated in his last and briefly unsuccessful attempt at evading his pursuers.
As the shattered remains of the Frigate cockpit drifted lazily into the substation’s dock, Ivendigroth was beyond relieved. Having been sheared from the rest of his ship during a particularly harrowing extraction from the warp, his skeleton crew of crusty mercs and he had been suffering on depleting life support and food supplies for days. Some very handy tech work had managed to manoeuvre them towards their originally intended destination. Substation Void Clasp had very little to offer those of an entrepreneurial or mercurial bent, the loyal Mechanicus priests that made the majority of the population required significant trust and donation just to be met in person. An old friend from the unfathomable space station Lathe Hadd-hesh-het, that orbits the distant Lathes planets, had been relocated here for punishment and re-education. Ivendigroth was betting on one last favour to get him to the outer-reaches and an old stronghold stash that was his last great hope.
But such plans are made to go awry, Ivendigroth’s contact had seemingly become a devout follower of Mechanicus liturgies and had the outlaw seized immediately. Emaciated, exhausted and completely surprised, Ivendigroth never even saw a chance to escape. Worse still, his swollen bounty and reputation had spread even to this backwater station, so the Mechanicus took it upon themselves to ensure their bounty came in full. In what can only be described as unbridled agony, Ivendigroth’s brilliantly designed muscle grafts were torn from his flesh. Despite being more interested in technologies than thrones, the Mechanicus still fortunately erred on the side of caution, having Ivendigroth treated to the highest medical standards that he might return from the monstrous surgeries in much the same state as he started. Nevertheless Ivendigroth was stripped of his quality equipment, valuable personal articles and even his prized collection of severed hands. With just his wit and his whiles left, Ivendigroth had little option but wait for the next prison barge to pass through.
Not long afterwards an officially contracted prison barge, bearing no military insignia but presenting all the appropriate paperwork, picked Ivendigroth up for transportation to Port Wander. Apparently the ruthless houses of Footfall had been overruled by the Imperium, but Ivendigroth knew this was just trading death for slow, painful death.
By now Ivendigroth looked nothing like his former self, his torturous experiences turning him into unrecognisable scum. The Barge’s Captain, one Guillaume Steyr, seemed wholly unconvinced the Mechanicus were presenting him with the quarry they claimed, but agreed to the binding contract that they would receive their reward when the prisoner’s identity was confirmed by the Imperium.
Thus Ivendigroth found himself locked in a cage aboard The Silent Confession. Given little other option he socialized with his neighbours and captors alike, winning appreciation and respect like it was easy. He even found that most of the tales of his efforts to elude capture were far grander and more entertaining than his exploits as a Rogue Trader. Of those he spoke to, three stood out strongest.
The man in the cell to his right, who referred to himself as Ignatius P. Wintersberry in a broad and obscure accent, reminded Ivendigroth of himself in his younger days, despite this silver beast being a man swiftly approaching his twilight years. In return for Ivendigroth’s stories, Ignatius regaled him with tales of espionage and excess. A self-made spy of the expanse, Ignatius seemed less pleased with the impact he’d made on it, than with the rarity of women, the potency of contrabands and depths of depravity that consumed his every thought. Certainly Ivendigroth was wary of the character’s prowess if he too was locked in a cell, but the heists he laid claim to were ones of legend.
Despite the smallness of the ship and the “exposure” of his high security cell, Ivendigroth only spoke or even saw the ship’s lone Astropath once. It was impressive enough that the ship seemed comfortable with only one Astropath, but when Ivendigroth caught the eyeless man’s attention he was hit by a tangible wave of energy that nearly floored him. The Astropath, who calmly apologised and introduced himself as Echo Godwinne Quinilli, seemed to take a few moments to compose himself. Having as strong a warp connection as the average poor soul of the expanse, Ivendigroth was nevertheless awed by the obvious power this “Echo” was trying so desperately to subdue. Though their conversation was brief, Echo’s talents were clearly not in diplomacy, and Ivendigroth was able to garner levels of subtext from what was shared and what he observed. Echo was clearly in a transitional phase, overcome with some warp-related power and using a dead-end prison barge as a place to hide from scrutiny until he masters it, or succumbs.
Finally there was the warden, who was apparently also the Captain’s second-in-command. A formal, organised man, Ivendigroth saw in Vincent Drago the Rogue Trader he’d left behind. Market-savvy, cool, observant and far more capable than he appeared. Their similarity but obvious imbalance in current influence served to unite them in an uneasy friendship. Despite being an alleged criminal, Ivendigroth soon had the Seneschal’s ear, gleaning more about the ship and its crew. Not unsurprising to him, Vincent revealed the Captain to secretly be a Rogue Trader himself, who had gone “underground” since the transition of power in the Winterscale dynasty. It seemed that after Sebastian’s assassination, the next in line was one Pontius Winterscale, a rotund, deplorable fiend with an unequalled capacity for ruthlessness. He assumed (rightly) that in the current circumstances of the Expanse the Winterscale Dynasty’s greatest assets were their maps. But he surmised that there was more money to be made in hoarding their greatest claim than selling it openly. Only the smallest portions of chartered space would be sold, and those holding larger amounts of Winterscale “product” were to be charged ongoing usage fees and other unreasonable claims. But for those few who held a completely chartered Koronus Expanse map, Pontius was especially cruel. Flexing the impressive might of his dynasty he saw to the negotiation and acquisition of all businessmen, traders and other unfortunates who possessed these treasures. Suddenly to have a full map of the Expanse was to be a marked man. And while such drastic action turned most of the Footfallen houses against him, Pontius seemed to only take this as a challenge.
Far more wily than foolhardy, Vincent’s captain was not idly running his barge across the Expanse for the mere safety of it. No, he was continuing to run the many businesses and considerations under his warrant while recruiting an armada and army with which to join the fight against Winterscale. With word that the Imperium was backing Winterscale in the growing conflict, Vincent’s Captain understood the need for patience and stealth.
And now Ivendigroth had his way out.
Rather than feign innocence and mistaken identity, Ivendigroth shared the truth of his identity with Vincent. However he laced the revelation with a harder truth. If he is returned to those who mean to capture and sentence him, the full might of Winterscale and the Imperium will fall on this prison barge, scrutinising eyes canvassing it inside and out. Ivendigroth did not have to wait long for Vincent to return from his meeting with the captain. He was to be set free.
But once again, Ivendigroth was double-crossed. The Silent Confession dropped Ivendigroth alone on a habitable but almost completely unvisited primitive world. One of wastelands and tribesmen. Leaving him a laspistol, a mesh cloak and a high-quality sword, Vincent flashed Ivendigroth a wry smile as the Lighter closed up and took off.
Barely recovered from the harrowing experiences he’d had so far, Ivendigroth trawled the wastelands for food, water and life. As the morning sun rose again, Ivendigroth lay still where he had collapsed the frigid evening before, now dazed from consistently interrupted rest. He had taken to talking to himself, and on this particular day felt the need to point his laspistol into the sky and curse his loneliness and abandonment. He stared for great lengths at the barrel of the pistol and as he did so a figure seemed to form on the hazy horizon. Perhaps appearing from the very air, or perhaps just walking from behind a rock. Ivendigroth could no longer tell. Blurred, the figure spoke before Ivendigroth could make him out.
“Who are you now?”
Ivendigroth was far too exhausted for leading questions and replied with a dull, “What?”
“Your dynasty is lost. Your family dead. Your blood dried up. You are just sand caught in the wind. All that you were is no more. All that you are is fleeting. All that you will be is what matters.”
Finally Ivendigroth focussed his eyes to make out the speaker. It was Echo the Astropath, dressed exactly the same way and leaning heavily on his ornate staff, “You’re not here.”
“How astute. Is that insight or denial?” A grin stretch across the pallid skin, the empty eye sockets winking out of time.
“You can’t be here. It’s just me here.” Ivendigroth was not sure if he preferred company in the form of riddles over loneliness. – You should just end this. –
“But I’m not here Ivendigroth. Neither are you. We are both on a path we have to follow. We need not do so blindly.” The three empty sockets on the Astropath’s face seemed to slowly spin in his brow, the staff curling over and clawing its toes through the sand.
- This would be all over if you just killed him. – “Listen, I’m dying here. If you’ve got something to say just say it, I have no time for cryptography.”
The smile stretched to form a complete circle around Echo’s face, the centre of which was caving inwards, like a hole into nothingness. Two large, pink tendrils were now tapping idly on the ground, supporting the twisted visage. “Then I’ll be blunt. You have to continue. Change is upon you and you cannot deny it. Embrace your fate, rise and walk another day.”
“Your fate is that you’re doomed, friend.” Another voice chimed in, this time from the left of the pink and blue swirling vortex. Vincent Drago, ambitious Seneschal and two-faced swine, walked from offside idly and calmly, as if he had been dropped there from space. There was a smug look on his face.
- Oh, you should definitely murder him. You deserve to see his self-satisfied blood stain the sand. – “You left me here to die.” Ivendigroth moaned weakly.
“And I’d do it again. Just looking out for myself and playing the hand that’s dealt me. You should learn to understand that. You can get all wrapped up in that flighty fate and destiny nonsense, or you can come to accept things exactly as they are. Echo’s right. You’ve changed immensely since the fall, and it’s brought you nothing but hardship and sacrifice. So stop trying to improve your lot and control everything. Accept what you’ve got, accept that it’s not a lot, and ride it out.” Surprisingly, Vincent’s expression was almost sympathetic, his cheeks drooping flushed and swollen.
“You cannot sit idly and count your misfortunes! You must persist and do whatever you can!” The technicolour void was now an endlessly unravelling face, opening wide to reveal another face which expanded and repeated, each face more twisted and wrong than the last.
- You could murder them both. Feed on their flesh. It might even sustain you. If the joy of killing them is not energising enough.-
“You know they’re both wrong.” Another familiar voiced joined the chorus, the form of Ignatius strutting lightly from behind him, his prison rags and mottled beard hiding his frustrated expressions, “It’s not about where you’re going or what you’ve got. It’s about what you should have. What you need. What you can do. There’s so much you haven’t done yet! You can’t go out lying in filth and dust! You are a king. You should be sampling the rarest, strangest, most exotic sensations. Reaching the peak of emotion and feeling, testing the lengths of your tolerance again and again! It’s what you deserve. What you’ve always deserved.”
- There’s now enough blood here to start a river flowing. You could bathe in it, or let it out slowly and paint the sky with it. You could watch the last glimmers of life fade from their eyes, and know that power. And then nothing would stop you from doing it again. -
The billowing yellow plumes of fire that were once Echo merely waved as if the wind had laughed through it. Vincent, who’s fineries were beginning to stretch out so that putrid substances could seep out of confinement, was less reserved. “He had all that once, and look what it got him. A few distant memories and a pile of dirt to call his own. He’s in the same state as everyone else. The only revelling he should be doing is in the knowledge that he’s not alone. He’s just as doomed as all the rest. He might as well accept it.”
Ivendigroth’s weariness finally let a thought shine through, “You’re daemons. Minions of Blasphemy.” – Beings of Heresy? Now you have to kill them. –
This time it was Vincent’s turn to laugh, his neck bulging out like a great toad as torrents of pus and maggots spilt from split skin, soaking into the sand. Echo, now a figure of molten metal, said nothing. Ignatius, his clothes now cleaner and undamaged, his face shaven, hair darker and skin younger, spoke up, “We’re here to make sure you make the right choice.”
“The Expanse betrayed you.” – Kill them. -
“The Imperium abandoned you.” – Kill them. –
“But we know the way to give you the power and the means to have as much or as little as you want.”
“To create or destroy.”
“To let none defy you and none survive you.” – Kill them. -
- Kill them! – “Alright, I’ve had my fill of this. Suffering hallucinations is alright if I at least understand what they’re trying to tell me. I’d rather use the last of my energy to throw myself over that rise than sit here and listen to more of this.”
The bulbous, vomiting Vincent, the great bulging eye that was Echo and the now finely dressed and youthful Ignatius all looked at each other, before turning back.
Ivendigroth blinked and the three were gone. A few seconds of silence passed.
- You should have killed them. We’ll see you soon, Noxias. –
And the rumbling, angry voice in his head faded away.
Climbing the next hill proved to be Ivendigroth’s salvation, for beyond it was an impressively sprawling native village. With cultivated lands, visible pathing and town structure, Ivendigroth identified this as remarkably civilised surroundings for a people so untouched by the Imperium. Immediately recognised as near death, he was taken in, sheltered and fed. With adequate rest Ivendigroth had renewed strength in no time. Unfortunately the friendly local hospitality was not free. He was taken before the town’s leader and interrogated. Ivendigroth was amazed to find they spoke an incredibly old and obscure Gothic dialect, using terms and phrases one would more usually find in scripture than in every-day conversation. Piecing together what he could from their speech and his ecclesiarchical upbringing, Ivendigroth made his best attempt to respond.
The tone of the occasion changed completely. Awed not by the content of his words, but the nature, a crowd began to gather. It took Ivendigroth a moment to realise they were reacting to the way in which he spoke, and the village leader stepped aside for a much older man to approach. Over his rather primitive robes the man was draped in yellowing, millennia-old papers, sewn together on clearly multiple occasions and still barely holding the wax stamps of the Imperium. It dawned on Ivendigroth then that their entire language was based off of written Imperial text, though unlikely from this one tome, and may too be the basis of their belief system. That such pronunciation of the words and understanding of the meanings was garnered from one source was utterly unbelievable. But given the increasingly impressed nature of their stares, he decided to hide his intrigue.
The Priest told the story of a flaming boulder that fell from the sky, crashing hard into the earth and splitting open along its edge. The one who witnessed it reported great flashes of light and plumes of flame spitting from the smouldering stone, which was beginning to cool and shine like water in the sunlight. As the smoke cleared the witness dared approach the stone, finding a small chamber within, filled with strange artefacts. Through rigorous study they began to understand that they were tomes of knowledge and holy scripture, telling of the ways of the Imperium and the worship of the God Emperor. Within also was an outfit, later defined as armour, a great scythe, a large blackened container and a series of notes. The notes explained that the container held a man of great evil, imprisoned in time until his arrival on this planet, that he might emerge and be doomed to wander an empty world with naught but his few meaningless possessions and an encyclopaedic collection of the Imperium, that he might reclaim his faith before death.
Clearly this planet was not free of intelligent life by the time of the pod’s arrival, but it didn’t matter. Damaged in the landing, the sustaining pod was darkened within and never opened. Fearing death might make such an evil even more powerful, the primitives never tried to open it. Had they even wanted to, chances were slim. The knowledge held within the books shed little on how to operate the technologies of the pod, including the suit of armour and the scythe (though the idea of metal and the design of the scythe did drive them forward by a great many years).
However, the notes, which were now the majority of the surviving scripture and made up most of the Priest’s robes, shed one more detail. They read that great followers of the God Emperor would one day return to this planet, in the event that those intelligent enough to read these words would have spread across the surface. These men of God would reclaim the technologies for their own purposes, and ensure that true faith was spreading to the people. They would speak the words of God with eloquence, and carry metal shapes that spat fire. These men should be treated with the utmost respect, and given all that they require. Ivendigroth absorbed the tale, and with a few moments of thought, smiled and drew his laspistol, firing its final shot into the air.
Decked in the remarkable power armour that had been strung up unworn and unused for decades, Ivendigroth presided over the tribes people. Sampling their women, foods and cultivated sins alike, he felt the clawing need to return to his old ways and stay in these luxurious, powerful surrounds. But as the days passed he began to notice something that worried him. The townspeople were becoming sick and developing severe symptoms rapidly. His own improving health led him to surmise, quite rightly, that he was carrying a contagion. Which one, he had no idea, likely one that the greater Imperial colonies had been exposed to and survived eons ago.
When the first fatalities began to appear, he had to make a plan. Unfortunately he had neither the conditions nor the expertise to immunise these people, and their certainty of his arrival as one of the holy men started to be questioned. To buy time, he proclaimed the epidemic was deserved, and would continue until they delivered the scythe written of in the scripture. As he knew all too well, a rival village with slightly different beliefs had stolen the weapon away in a brutal conflict long before his arrival. Ivendigroth weighed his options, then cast the laspistol clip into the fire around which they had gathered.
He then called for war. A war to save themselves.
Gathering the strong from allied villages, Ivendigroth (practically unkillable) marched a small army upon the village where the Scythe was. Knowing the falseness of his deception he still lacked a greater plan for the ending of the epidemic than to expose the entire planet’s population and hope for a reasonable survival rate. But his bloody assault on the other village was not a positive omen. The majority of his forces fell, but his near-immortal state helped him win the day. His laspistol finally dry, his sword broken, and his mesh cloak in tatters upon his lieutenant’s back, Ivendigroth took the Scythe from its pedestal, but was bitter to find the power of the weapon was utterly spent, likely for centuries. Worse still the increasing illness amongst the people of this new Stronghold did not win the favour of other nearby villages, and Ivendigroth was forced to shed more blood and seize more leadership just to sleep at night (though he did so sealed in his armour.)
One evening, after the successful siege of yet another village and a long night of shameless debauchery, he was awoken, not by an angry parent of a dead warrior, or the misguided attempts of a would-be revolutionary, but by a vicious looking man, collared to his neck in painted, spiked armour of the Imperial guard with the Arms of Chaos tattooed around his eye. With a cheeky grin of spiked teeth he spoke:
“Wake up Noxias. The Ruinous Powers have sent my raiders to collect you. They are very pleased with all that you’ve accomplished here, and would like to spread your talent across the worlds of man.”
Ivendigroth, surrounded by death, suffering, pleasure and destruction, was strangely sanguine. He took the new name he was given and joined the raiders, redoubling his efforts on every planet he set foot upon. He was now Noxias, Scourge of Civilization.
Not that Noxias had much of a choice in the matter. The Raiders had brought an entire fleet and were tearing their way through the planet’s population at a spectacular rate, indulging in every twisted whim and grotesque display of murder they could think of. As Noxias’ lighter left the planet’s atmosphere, Noxias looked back upon the realm of his recreation. The dark side was alight with countless blazes. It struck Noxias then that he felt practically no remorse, or even slight sympathy, for the suffering he was leaving behind. Instead he felt sharpened, focussed and oddly satisfied.
Aboard The Creeping Darkness, flagship of the Raider fleet, Noxias was given pride of place simultaneously with a wide berth. To be so directly handled by the Ruinous Powers appeared to awe and intimidate these ruthless killers, thus Noxias found himself afforded any luxury he required and, despite the horrors of the ship, a measure of privacy. But even these concessions could not prevent his exposure to the habits and habitat of such wanton heretics. Resignedly Noxias opted to eke out the best existence he could, while taking full advantage of this unique opportunity to observe and (dare he hope) understand followers of Chaos.
Noxias did not have to try too hard to make significant discoveries. He had learnt in his travels that the Ruinous Powers were vastly different from one another (though undeniably sinful and evil), but he had no idea how at odds the followers of each would be. Learning how the followers of Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch and Slaanesh interacted and conflicted was eye-opening, seeing flimsy alliances crumble beneath all out loathing and betrayal. Even more amazing that within these four groups were further sub-groups, united by origin stories, military units, ideological following or favour from their dark lords. And even these sub groups managed to fight with one another from time to time, sometimes for dominance, over misunderstanding, or for daring to associate with another sub-group. Bizarre and yet oddly fitting, it was a system of chaos and anarchy within chaos and anarchy that somehow coexisted with all of the usual tasks and responsibilities of void travel and warfare.
These never-ending, inter-crew combats resulted in significant casualties and fatalities and depending on the devotion of the ship as a whole, each craft in the fleet shared similar losses. Even the occasional volley between ships was reported. How the fleet ever managed to travel anywhere without stopping dead after murdering its own myriad crews was a mystery to Noxias, until their first major assault. A planet, not unlike the one he had just left, was their first target, and as wave after wave of stir-crazy, hot-blooded monsters drifted to the surface, Noxias got his answer. Not only was their prowess for such raiding disturbingly impressive, they seemed to unite regardless of banner or squad, in the glorious orgy of devastation. Taking hardly any losses despite the desperate defences, the Raiders acquired slaves and turncoats in droves, multiplying their dwindling crew by amazing factors. While indoctrination would no doubt take time, it seemed there would always be crew for the fleet, as long as the fleet had someone but itself to fight.
Despite himself, Noxias inevitably began to approach and befriend some of the crew, namely those who, to his surprise, had some intelligence and aspiration where the majority had naught but blood-thirst. But his attempts to garner a posse were being countered rather effectively by the “rotating roster” of crew on the vessel, with allies being murdered brutally in bitter feuds or accidentally killed in ship-related incidents. Though it seemed to be just the way things go on Chaos vessels, Noxias was dissatisfied.
Having no official devotion to any of the four powers, no past history with Chaos forces and no qualms about blurring the lines of philosophy and fairness for his own gain, Noxias drew a plan, starting with becoming even more selective with his encounters. With his gradually increasing understanding of the powers and their followers, Noxias began to play each faction against one another, rather perversely separating the wheat from the chaff through equal measures of bravado, stubbornness, confusion and paranoia.
With time his efforts began to bring results, with smarter and more cooperative men and women finding their way to dominance and leadership, and the more unreliable and dangerous disappearing in oft-gruesome ways. The efficiency of the flagship was beginning to increase, while the indulgence of needs and vices remained the same. Thoroughly pleased with his tampering, Noxias was prepared to move on to the next ship in the fleet, but never got his chance.
The continued successes of the fleet had garnered the attention of a powerful warp presence. Between raids, the captain of The Creeping Darkness was reported to have been thrown into violent seizure, before splitting down invisible seams along his entire figure. Peeled apart and rent open, an enormous winged figure burst through his mangled form, far outsizing the desiccated captain it left behind. It is unknown exactly what happened to those who did not bow upon its arrival, the pict-recordings not capturing a single moment of the daemon’s appearance. However witnesses explained he spoke directly to the Ship’s First Lieutenant, praising him on the success of the fleet and issuing him a new and woefully intimidating target. He then passed captaincy to the Lieutenant and slipped blindingly back into the warp, horrific screams echoing through the ship, a last testament to his apparition.
The new target was a heavily fortified Imperial Navy stronghold, a satellite docking station with numerous heavily-armed craft present at all times. Its name and designation were insignificant for it would not last, or the Raiders would see their doom. While Noxias had had the ear of the previous Captain, the new upstart was a wily and shameless heathen who had growing reservations and suspicions towards Noxias. Recognizing this mission would require more finesse than the Raider fleet’s usual rage-blind assaults, the Captain employed Noxias’ talents. Sending him alone with an untainted Lighter and poorly falsified documents, she tasked him to gain entry aboard the station and to spread the same disruption he had earnt the favour of the Dark Gods with. Despite the haste of the plan, the Captain was prepared. Every checkpoint he encountered and every deception he attempted was thoroughly supported by the coercive skills of the most powerful psykers in the fleet.
As the figures became more wilful and the lies more complex, it fell to Noxias alone to complete the mission and open an opportunity for the fleet to strike. It is unknown exactly how he achieved it, but within mere days of landing at the station, 17 decks were flooded with highly toxic gases, 60% of the base officials were found accidentally killed amongst the remains of one of the most depraved parties Imperial space would never know, the entire union of dock-workers took up arms against the administrative and enforcement authorities of the base and had to be killed to a man by the guard stationed there, before the guard turned their weapons upon one another, adamant that within their ranks were countless heretics. By the time the Raiders had cleaned away the stationed craft, the stronghold was barely functioning, its crew dead, tortured, mutilated, mutated, twisted, or outright homicidal. Noxias, however, was nowhere to be seen.