Vesper moves quietly off to one side, whispering (actually whispering) to the Reaver’s, “We need to flank them, just in case, and maybe find an alternate route in. I know fighting through is honorable, but also dumb. Come one.” And with that she’ll take the Reaver group and quietly look for a place to sneak around to get into a flanking position of where the main group will be negotiating. Also, if that doesn’t work out so well, look for a sneaky way to get further into the enemy territory…
With the Black Lancers’ attention focused entirely on the tense scene down below, no one noticed as Vesper and her Reaver friends slipped back into the lance battery barrel. With the Reavers’ help, Vesper came across a crack in the side of the barrel that led to another barrel. This entry led to yet another barrel that brought the small group a short distance above the opposite side of the ram-prow of the Red Haze raider. There were still a couple dozen labor servitors mindlessly cutting chunks of hyper-dense metal from the ram, but the automatons didn’t even register Vesper and the Reavers. Best of all, there were no Tech-Priest supervisors or combat servitors watching over the operations.
Vesper and the Reavers dropped down from the lance barrel, moving with easy haste through the tangled forest of twisted metal that made up the impact site. While Kas and company pulled slowly ahead of Vesper, the void-mistress eyed the tears in the hull of the Unfailing Allegiance, damage done by the ramming action of the Red Haze. She was certain that she was making out large chambers that could be cargo or hanger bays. She also spotted powered down lift shafts leading further up and down the light cruiser.
The Reavers paid little attention to those side corridors, save to make quick glances to ensure no Mechanicus automatons were present. They were focused on circling around the point of the ram-prow and coming up behind and slightly to the right of the Mechanicus contingent.
“Hey!” Vesper gets the attention of her cohorts, “Hangar bays, come on, bound to be something fun in here.” She motions off to one of the side passages and starts down it, “Nothing says I Win like air superiority.” She nods.
“Like what?” Kas asks, looking confused, as Vesper dashes down one of the numerous side passageways. After a brief exchange of silent, puzzled glances, the quartet of young Reavers hurry after the more experienced voidfarer.
The corridor widens as Vesper makes her way through it. Large metal doors dot the side walls, frequently marked with the Imperial aquilla but occasionally with the cog-gear of the Mechanicus. Vesper knew (actually, her mother knew and drilled the data into Vesper’s head) that the cog-gear would indicate repair supplies. A quick check into the unsealed hatches confirms this, revealing partially looted grav-plates, metal slabs, barrels of sealant and crate after crate of bolts, screws, and nuts – some of them as long as her arm or as large as her head. Vesper makes a mental catalog of these supplies….then dismisses them as dull before moving on.
Finally, Vesper finds what she suspected would be nearby – the personnel access hatch to one of the Unfailing Allegiance’s port hanger bays. The automatic doors have already been sliced out of the walls via las-cutters and the metal itself removed. Vesper slips through the portal to an expansive chamber full of flickering electric lights and contrasting shadows. As her eyes quickly become used to the poor lighting, she spies the shapes of big winged vehicles in varying status of repair.
Then one of the Reaver youths, Grish, gives a surprised cry and Vesper hears the sound of tearing metal and flesh. Whirling about, she draws her hand cannon and sees Grish standing over the prone form of a repair servitor. Grish is hammering the servitor in the head with his shock maul, though the automaton does not respond. To his side, Kas is pointing out a dozen more servitors standing motionless by a pile of scavenged material and the other Reavers quickly set upon them with a savage relish.
“They were concealed in the shadows,” Kas hisses to Vesper, her power blades humming to life, “Quickly….before they can form a counterattack!” With that she lunges forward, her energy weapon severing the arm of an unresisting and unmoving servitor.
Vesper takes a second to come to her senses, they were in fact dismembering defunct, and possibly non-working servitors. She holsters her gun, draws her own blade and joins in to hasten the carnage. At the very least she gets to hit something, but mostly to speed up the process of killing dead things. It was clear the Reaver’s just didn’t know how things worked aboard a proper ship. Well, it was at least fun stomping one of the defunct things into parts….
“Right,” She said when the vicious repair robots were properly dispatched, she’d have to explain why they might have been useful in a less hostile environment. “One of these things, Emperor willing, will fly and is still armed.” She quickly set about looking for the ship that would best be used to mount a rescue that she was in no doubt her companions were in dire need of at that very moment… “A Starhawk would be the best option, but a Gun Cutter will do if there’s one in here…” She explains quickly and quietly as she checks of the craft best suited for flight, “Worst case scenario, something with a good thick hull will do.”
Their fear-induced bloodlust sated for the moment, the Reavers fall in step behind Vesper as the older woman surveys the wreckage left in the hanger bay. Within short order, Vesper realizes that the Allegiance was not a carrier vessel. There are no Imperial Navy space fighters, bombers or assault boats at all.
There are a half dozen or so Arvus lighters, small and stout cargo shuttles used for transporting up to a dozen troops or equivalent cargo across the void or through atmosphere. Most were in the process of being disassembled by the now-defunct servitors, salvageable components sorted into storage crates apart from chunks and panels of metal. None of the lighters appeared currently fitted for combat (not unusual), though the two or three that looked mostly intact did have empty mounts for anti-personnel weaponry.
One of the Reavers, Brulla, calls over to Vesper while the voidmistress is studying a lighter in particularly good condition. She shows Vesper a series of side storage chambers that show signs of being systematically unsealed and emptied. Light munitions (missiles, heavy bolter shells, and so forth) are being sorted by what is intact and salvageable and what is not. From the maker-marks on the munitions, Vesper suspects that they were produced on ship – on the Allegiance.
Grish calls out next, having ventured deeper into the bay. When Vesper joins him, she finds to her delight a pair of damaged Thunderhawk gunships. The Imperial aquilla is prominent on both vehicles along with a symbol that looks like a silver head of a great cat, probably a tiger. (Vesper doesn’t recognize the symbol but assumes it must be a Space Marine Chapter insignia.) The Thunderhawks’ armament is in the process of being removed, with only one of the vehicles sporting any weaponry – namely half of it twin dorsal lascannon array and one wing of twin heavy bolters.
Kas slips into the armed Thunderhawk for a quick look around its wide interior, returning only a short moment later to report that there is no one aboard. “But I did find several old scraps of bloodied clothing,” she says, handing Vesper a stained strip of fabric. The fragment bears a sunburst symbol.
“Do you recognize this insignia?” Vesper asks.
Kas nods. “It is the symbol of the Stark People, who came many cycles ago to plunder our home. They were no match for Morscrap and his warrior ”/campaign/rogue-trader-pride-and-profit/wikis/orks" class=“wiki-page-link”>Orks though….and between us, the Twists, and the Takers, they were slaughtered to the last."
Vesper tilts her head. “Morscrap?”
Kas nods again. “Zogstuf Morscrap. Chieftain of the Green Ones. He and his tribe protect us from the death-touch of the Angry Spirits.”
Vesper’s mind struggles to keep up. “Wait….what do you mean ‘Angry Spirits’? And…and are you allies with the Orks?!”
Kas frowns. “Ally is too strong a word. We don’t kill any Orks and they don’t kill any Reavers. Occasionally, we trade food, water, and supplies for salvage. They’re main concern is keeping the Angry Spirits contained.” She pauses, obviously trying to think of a way to explain. “The Angry Spirits are the restless dead from another chariot-city….a dark place full of ancient pain and suffering. Surely you saw the wards the Green Ones placed around that unholy site?”
Vesper remembers the runes and oversized ‘teef’ that blocked some of the corridors outside the Allegiance and the Red Haze. She and her companions had thought the xenos symbology looked like the Ork equivalent of a geller field….
Grish and another Reaver – Wrax – emerge from the armed Thunderhawk. “We don’t know much about the relics of the Holy Giants, but this battle-craft does not seem as damaged as the others.”
Kas looks back at Vesper. “What are we going to do with this?” she asks.
Vesper pockets the scrap of cloth to have someone who actually cares look at it later, “Do? We’re gonna fly her!” Vesper’s eyes are alight with joy and mischief. “The Emperor has blessed us with one of his great chariots!” She double checks the name written on the side before almost literally bouncing up the ramp.
She motions for them to follow her on board as she does a quick internal inspection, “I could get along without a co-pilot, but I really need a gunner,” She turns to her crew, “Anyone want a crash, er, uh, quick course in the gunner position?” She sits in the pilots seat and without even thinking about it starts a pre-flight check of the console.
“So, Orks are friendlies and Mechheads are enemies… man this whole wreck is half backwards.” She says out loud, “Though the Orks are probably what’s keeping everyone in here from being Chaos food, so I’ll let ’em have a pass for now.” She pauses at the words that just came out of her mouth, “Anyway, the important thing is to remember that the Takers, Mechanicus, are basically like feral pets. We just need to remind ‘em whose boss and they’ll step back in line. Twists you can’t reason with.” She rambled, “So, OK, Sister Eurydice would want us to rescue and bring to her the Icy Orison, so that’s the plan. And, well, The Emperor has a creed – One must strive for superior numbers, superior position, and superior firepower at all times. Right now, this is all three!”
She looks at her young followers, hoping they’ll take the idea that blowing the enemy to pieces with a Thunderhawk sounded appealing, “And besides, the Mechanicus make a wicked hell of a fun noise when you shoot them.”
On the private vox, and speaking in the odd cant unique to the House of D’Stayn, Eurydice asks, “Vesper, what is your 20?”
“Um… nothing! I wasn’t doing anything,” Vesper replies, perhaps too quickly. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I told you to take the Reavers and remain silent and unseen. Since I neither see you nor hear you, I can only assume that you’ve managed to sneak away and are up to some sort of mischief.”
There was a longer pause this time. “We’re acquiring superior air support. You’ll like it! We can really bring the thunder!”
Eurydice managed to avoid rolling her eyes. “Good. Negotiations are not going well. Be prepared to provide cover, ASAP.”
Vesper sighs when the connection is cut, “Seriously, what if I actually was sitting still and being quiet? Huh? They never think of that.. alright everybody – I told you they’d need rescuing.” She stashes her flak armor somewhere out of the way and prepares to do some serious flying, “OK, internal bulkheads, damaged at that, aren’t going to be too much trouble to blast through…” She tries to remember exactly where they are in position to where she started and the Thunderhawk goes through a power up cycle. “Oh, listen to those engines….”
Kas gives Vesper a grin. “You are obviously a close-knit tribe,” she says, “that the Black Angel can so accurately know your movements. Surely few foes can stand against your clan.”
Vesper directs the Reavers Wrax and Zek into unsealing the ancient hold doors, using a mix of electrical splicing, brute force, and old Imperial Navy codes she lifted from one of Tryft’s dataslates. The metal doors groan as they slowly open, metal grating on warped tracks, until the open area outside of the two ships is revealed. Chunks of debris continue to drift about in the odd gravitational field above and around the vessels. Vesper notes that she and her Reaver accomplices are to the starboard side of the Red Haze, not far from where the raider’s thick ram-prow is thrust into the port side of the Allegiance.
As Zek and Wrax rejoin everyone on board the Thunderhawk, Vesper gently eases the gunship through the open cargo doors and into the cluttered space outside. She evades the floating debris with barely an afterthought, and her Reaver allies are silent in wonder at her skill at piloting one of the divine war-chariots of the Holy Giants. For her part, Vesper feels a giddy thrill at being behind the stick of a Space Marine gunship – she couldn’t wait to tell her mother about this!
Coming up above the torn impact point between the two ships, Vesper hands the controls over to a startled Kas while she steps over to the engineering station. Standing over Grish’s shoulder, she explains quickly how to run an auger scan and notes the mass of lifeforms that show her where her companions and the Mechanicus delegation are located in relation to the Thunderhawk. With a wicked smile, she sees that the meet-and-greet is happening close to one of the rent section of the Allegiance’s hull, which should be breakable with a few well-placed lascannon shots.
Vesper moves back to the pilot’s chair as a chunk of floating debris bounces off the Thunderhawk’s hull. She shifts controls back to her console, letting a white-faced Kas slump back in the co-pilot’s chair, and raises the gunship back up the three dozen meters it had descended a moment ago. She places the vessel into a hovering position, occasionally shifting to avoid more drifting debris, and waits for Eurydice’s vox-signal…
“I like to think we’re close. Though sometimes I wish they knew me a little less…” She shrugs as they prepare the bay.
“See, piloting is easy, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.” Vesper casually remarks as she shifts the gunship around, “The trick is never try for a straight line, reality abhors a straight line.” She angles the nose around a little bit, trying to place as many of the Mechanicus into the firing line as possible, “The other trick when firing is to fill the available space with as much firepower as the laws of physics allow, then see if you can fit a few more in, because physics is a pansy….”
Vesper tries to imagine how negotiations might be going. This is the part where she usually waits for Janessa or someone else who’s allowed to talk to say something like “kill ’em.” …. But she still has just a little bit of battle lust from smashing the powered down drones, she wants a live enemy… something that might, laughable as it would be, fire back. She also wonders if the prow of this is reinforced enough to punch through the rent once she weakens it more with fire.
Calculating acceleration, gravitational pull, the general feel of the trajectory the gunship backs up slightly, angles itself inwards, and possibly gives out a slight growl of anticipation…
“When I say so we’re opening up with every gun and ramming them.” She says to her crew.