- Astropathic communique to Inquisitor E, from imperial psyker Elric Nilius.
There is some freaky stuff going on in the Koronus Expanse!
Erika Damos brings us all to the bridge, and informs us that the Damos family has been paying tribute to an infamous pirate lord for safe passage. That has to change now, since the Damos Crusade will be going right through his territory and we just can't have that liability to our supply lines. So we're going to double-cross him!
The idea is that we will meet with him and pretend to negotiate for further rights, offering twice the normal tribute, but that during the great welcoming feast we'll poison the pirate lord. Erika is bringing some notable high provender, space tuna or something like that. Now the pirate lord has a gastric implant, such that it purges all toxins from his blood and digestive system, but our explorator has modified the food such that it only targets those with gastric implants. It triggers a negative feedback loop in the gastric implant, and the target literally drowns to death.
It's a 3 week journey to the pirate lord's haven via warp travel, and it's surprisingly uneventful. We all had some nightmares, but that's all that I heard of happening. Though Erika does show us that someone left her a cryptic message: "Don't trust the man in the red cloak" and "Hide your eyes when you see bones".
We finally reach the pirate lord (after exiting warp waaaay off target thanks to our junior navigator) and we get hailed. "Is dat my tribute? If not I'm gonna blow you up!" we hear on the bridge. The speaker can only be the pirate lord, and he's got a thick accent reminiscent of the languorous people of Karthay. The guy is very direct, and Erika replies in kind. The pirate lord instructs us to wait and that we'll be boarded by one of his lieutenants that can guide us through the mine field around the pirate's star fortress.
A motley bunch of small star craft approach our cruiser The Brisk Intervention. We see a couple of imperial gunships, but also some ork ships as well as a craft that is completely foreign to me. I'm told it's a Rak'Gol ship, which is odd since the Rak'Gol don't associate with any other races. Perhaps it's a looted vessel.
They land in our docking bay and disembark. Immediately I notice that the pirate lieutenant is a rogue psyker; he unashamedly displays the tools of his craft, but it's clear he's not imperial-trained. A green-haired arch-militant in our crew that I don't recognize leans over to me and says "That's a psyker but I don't think he's chaos tainted". I nod, but then turn to him surprised. How does he know? In any case there is a more immediate concern. I'm told that the Rak'Gol ship is leaking radiation.
"We were expecting you, but that Rak'Gol ship has to leave. It's leaking radiation and we cannot have it endanger our crew. Move it to just beyond the limit of our ship's void shield" I inform the rogue psyker.
The foul man protests, and says he will do nothing of the sort. As he does so his forked tongue stretches out unnaturally long and dripping saliva is flung onto my carapace armor. I casually brush it off but remain firm. The pirate lord will not get his tribute until this threat to our crew is removed.
He eventually relents, with great distaste, and waves a hand to some of his orks. They approach the Rak'Gol ship very cautiously and start closing its main door. Suddenly a long tendril whips out and grabs one of the orks, pulling it in. There's a great gush of blood as we hear the ork get crushed, eviscerated, and gutted. But finally the doors are closed, and the small star craft moves out.
"That was of Dark Eldar origin" says our ranger Leo to me. These pirates certainly do keep odd company.
We lead the rogue psyker to our bridge, and he pilots our cruiser through the mines. We make a note of the flight path so that we can exit safely, and eventually dock with the star fortress.
I reach out with Psyniscience to see if there is any active psychic activity. There's quite a bit actually! I can sense some astropaths sending out into the warp, as well as some psykers walking about the station with sustained psychic powers. This place is a bomb just waiting to blow up... with this much untrained psychic activity it's like a beacon in the warp. It's a wonder that it hasn't already fallen to the depredations of the warp.
We march out into the star fortress, and as we do so Erika leans over to the green-haired arch-militant and tells him "Pick a fight with one of their champions and kill him". We're greeted by the pirate lord who is a large dark-skinned man with bones in his dread-locks. He seems affable enough, telling us he's looking forward to the space tuna, and we walk with him and his retinue to the feast hall. The star fortress is not well maintained, but more or less what I expected. At least until we come upon a body in the middle of the hallway, with a hole straight through the base of his spine.
The pirate lord leans down and sticks his thumb in the hole. Then he begins drawing strange glyphs on the wall with the blood, but nothing that I recognize. He goes back to the body and then punches straight down, grabs the spine and then rips it out! I almost gag at the sight. He flings entrails and other viscera onto the wall, contemplating his artwork until he's satisfied. The rest of his retinue don't seem surprised by this, and I can only imagine that this is not an uncommon occurrence.
We march on, but the green-haired arch-militant brings up the rear and as he passes the blood-stained wall he smudges the symbol that the pirate lord had drawn. One of the pirates, a tall man in power-armor, notices and tells him not to dishonor his lord. The green-haired arch-militant pauses, then slowly smears some of the blood onto the power-armor. The power-armored pirate is outraged, and tells him that he'll die for that.
"Excellent, that will be our entertainment for tonight" yells the pirate lord. He seems quite happy about this turn of events.
We mill about for a while as they set up the feast hall and dinner. The room is a large rectangular area, with a long table in the center, and it overlooks a large gladiator-style pit down beneath us. I decide to spend the night chatting up an attractive female pirate, a bit rough around the edges, so as to seem preoccupied and non-threatening. I even get around to asking her back to my chambers, in the hope of pumping her for more information, but the ranger Leo takes this opportunity to barge in and the moment is lost.
In any case the combatants enter the arena. The power-armored champion walks forward, then is aided by a small contingent of helpers who help him take off his armor piece by piece. He's now completely disrobed, except for his weapons. Our green-haired arch-militant does likewise, taking off his body-suit. They square off, about 10-12 meters apart.
The arch-militant goes first, advancing and throwing a spear that hits the pirate champion but doesn't seem to penetrate. In fact, it almost seems to bounce off. The champion throws a bola, and then a net, but doesn't connect with the noble arch-militant. The arch-militant, while ducking underneath the net, charges forward with his sword and connects.
Meanwhile I reach out via Psyniscience again and scan the place. When I pass over the pirate champion it's like hitting a wall. It's a most peculiar feeling, but I don't have time to dwell on it since I see that our arch-militant has just vanquished his foe. He stands over the fallen champion, looks up at the pirate lord, and asks what is his pleasure. "Just get on with it" says the pirate lord, not happily. The arch-militant obliges, and decapitates him.
That's when our ranger Leo decides to jump into the arena. "We just killed your champion" he says to the pirate lord, antagonizing him. Many of the pirates look aghast, and others cry "Cheater". Our arch-militant looks furious and seems about ready to charge Leo.
The pirate lord walks over angrily to the balcony and jumps down into the arena. He walks over to the arch-militant and grabs his sword, then proceeds to vivisect the pirate champion. He bends down and starts ripping out so many organs and bones that his robe taints blood-red. That's when it hits me that this must be the red-cloaked man that we were warned about.
The pirate lord turns to Leo, thrusts some organs at him, and tells him very seriously "Spread it everywhere". Leo does exactly as instructed, and the place is soon a gory mess. The other pirates seem satisfied, and our arch-militant is allowed to rejoin us.
We spend the rest of the night carousing with our hosts, and eventually have to retire for the night.
The next morning I wake up groggily, manacled, and as I peer through my opening eyes I see a pile of bones. I immediately close my eyes!
I'll have to continue the rest of my account in my next message.
In service, Elric.
- Astropathic response from Inquisitor E
That's a rather vivid accounting of what happened. Though you mentioned you didn't suspect chaos-influence nonetheless be on the lookout for arcane forces. Arcane powers are connected to the immaterium, but they are distinct from the psychic powers that the Imperium uses. As such, it may be more subtle and escape your notice.