+++From the Journals of Brother Apothecary Sallust Azaleh, Crimson Suns Chapter on detached duty with Deathwatch Kill Team Pallas+++
We boarded the Horizon’s Pride today, taking passage to the recently re-integrated system of Orum, deep in the Jericho Reach. Our mission is to determine the nature of threat on the surface and deal with it in such a way as to ensure the smooth and proper realignment of Aurum from independence to Imperial rule.
Rogue Trader Diaz Lan, a merchant and scoundrel deep in the service of the Inquisition when not finding his way to profit from the Crusade, informed us that there were a number of peculiarities with the world and people of Aurum. I shall enumerate those issues that struck me statistically significant.
Issue 1 – The Aurum survived the long interregnum between the lapse of contact with the Empire and the Jericho Crusade mostly intact and not beset by Xenos or Daemons. This, while hardly unique, is quite unusual and cause for further investigation given the advance states of corruption and Xenos influence in the Reach.
Issue 2 – There have been a number of disappearances, both locals and Imperial Citizens, and ‘animal attacks’ or ‘random acts of violence’. As this is a warrior culture, this is hardly unexpected, however the quantity and nature of the attacks appears somewhat suspect. In addition these bodies are quickly disposed of through cremation with no reason or discussion from the Aurum.
Issue 3 – The Aurum will not allow off-worlders outside of their capital city. This is decidedly suspicious, even for a Void-born Marine like myself. Granted the entire idea of living in a vast area with uncontrollable atmospherics and a life-sustainer based on flora and ‘natural phenomena’ seems foolish to me, but the fact remains that on most planets one can move across the surface without undue issue. The fact that this is a concern of the Aurum indicates that either they are hiding something outside the cities or they are desperately afraid of something outside the cities. Given their martial culture, the latter is quite likely given the shame that would attach to their inability to deal with the issue on their own, however one cannot discount the former.
Issue 4 – A Sister Hospitalier was found dead in her chapel. Ostensibly, this is the primary reason that we have been dispatched, however it seems to me to be more a symptom of the overall problems present on Aurum that have been glossed over by over-ambitious officials of the Administratum. By any course, the fact remains that the Sister Hospitalier’s apparent suicide is certainly not characteristic of their order, and merits more directed scrutiny.
A diagnosis using the standard process of heuristic parse has dictated the logical extrapolation of the data, to whit: the planet may be under threat from a Gene Stealer Cult. Cursor Valentinus… pardon, Brother Librarian Valentinus, has been placed in command of our Kill Team due to his experience with these particular vile Xenos, and we are proceeding based singularly on his recommendation. Apparently during a boarding action on a space hulk, Cursor Valentinus distinguished himself against these creatures, I only hope that his experiences were not the mirror of my own, as those have rendered me unfit for command.
We departed on the Horizon’s Pride, and almost immediately upon the commencement of our voyage we began to note several oddities about the vessel. Though well maintained for a ship not serving my Chapter, the Horizon’s Pride has an excessive number of Servitors manning posts throughout the ship. These Servitors, it turned out, would be problematic. I am getting ahead of myself, though.
During our tour of the vessel, I made note of a crewman in the brig, a worthy by the name of Kohl Bennex. The lad had been imprisoned on charge of murder and was to be brought before Captain’s Mast before execution. He plead to me that the death of the Chief Enginseer was an accident caused when said Mechanicus Acolyte rushed him on a catwalk after Bennex inquired about a malfunctioning Servitor.
I brought this information to our Cursor, and he read the Emperor’s Tarot to determine a course of action while I contacted Techmarine Heinrick. Surprisingly, while I had expected a rebuff and little traction or assistance from the Black Templar I was rewarded with full cooperation. Perhaps there is room for rapprochement with the members of the Cult Mechanicus, but I will not put too much stock in members of that cult until it has been proved that they hold not my entire Chapter in abeyance. Together we charted a course to uncover the truth behind the strange actions and gibberings of the Servitors.
Brother Librarian Valentinus, I must get used to using that title as he does not seem to recognize the title of Cursor, had completed his divinations when Trader Diaz Lan and his Seneschal, Veyoris Akioh, came down the very hallway that the Cursor had seen danger emerge from. At this point we were joined by Brother Vilhjamhr and Brother Teporus. It took but a moment for our leader to ascertain that the Seneschal was a rogue Psyker, and we bent our not inconsiderable will to ensuring that the psyker not be allowed to the bridge, where he could cause untold havoc among the Navigators and Astropaths with his wild talents. In order to find the cause of the unlucky creature’s sudden transformation from cargomaster to budding sorcerer we examined the relics of Diaz Lan’s sanctioned collection, and though the Helix Gauntlet and several Tomes seemed interesting, we were unable to draw a direct correlation between access to the items and the sudden manifestation of psychic phenomena in the Seneschal. This is a pity as a proper diagnosis and course of application may have provided invaluable benefit to the Red Star Fleet and the Red Star herself.
With this issue resolved for the moment, pending more thorough dissection of the facts, we turned our attention to the Enginseers and the Engineering Deck’s Servitors. An examination by Brother Heinrick and Brother Librarian Valentinus determined that the mechanical wretches were, in fact, succumbing to the malign influences of the Warp, a dark discovery which led to a fracas in the Engine Room between our number and the mutinous mechanisms. My new Brothers fought well and bravely, using their strengths to turn the tide against the rebellious robot-men, and soon the peril was abated.
Eventually we made our way to Aurum where we hope to begin our investigations. Brother-Captain Hamilcar has brought us a new addition to Kill Team Pallas, a Storm Warden Assault Marine by the name of Angus Morgan. This new fellow has quickly integrated himself and made a friend in Vilhjamhr over their shared fondness for drink. I am unsure if I should tell them that their physiology prevents such comestibles from having any effect other than the purely psychological, though I am sure that in their deep subconscious they already know this and simply wish to play at the charade of mortality… unless they are drinking pure battery acid and strychnine, in which case all bets are off.
I look forward to our Cursor’s leadership on Aurum, even though I surely do not look forward to descending to the planet…