The Murder of Crows
The Birth of a Ghost
The ‘Ghost’ is a relatively new vessel by Imperial Navy standards, its construction only being completed in 363.M39 during the final stages of the Angevin Crusade some 2,500 years ago. Built on the Lathe world Het in the Golgenna Reach, it entered service with Battlefleet Calixis, originally named as the ‘Lord Drusus’, and began operating out of the newly established Naval station of Port Wrath. In its early years the ship saw battle against marauding xenos such as the Yu’vath and the Ork and was pivotally involved in putting down the recidivists of Mara. But as the sector stabilised, the vessel’s role switched to that of long range patrolling and counter-piracy actions.
The ‘Lord Drusus’ was subsequently redeployed to the Sector’s fringe at Port Wander following its founding in 917.M40, where the ship was assigned to Battle Group Trajan. Using Port Wander as a base, the Battle Group was assigned to investigate the loss of many vessels and other incidents on the fringes of the Drusus Marches over the course of the preceding centuries by carrying out deep patrols beyond the bounds of the sub-sector. However, nothing concrete was ever found and so most of the other Navy ships were quickly removed to other duties owing to unrest in the sector core, leaving the station as little more than an oversized watchpost at the time, heavily dependant on Rogue Trader traffic for its survival and protection.
However, it was in 422.M41 that the ‘Lord Drusus’ was to prove it’s mettle at arms. Waaagh! Gulgrog erupted from the depths of the Koronus Expanse and smashed through the Maw, laying siege to Port Wander with a fleet composed of hundreds of kill kroozers and crude roks. Many Rogue Traders simply stayed out of the massive fleet’s way rather than be crushed by its vast numbers, while others demand exorbitant fees for coming to Port Wander’s aid. The then Captain of the ‘Lord Drusus’, Benedictus Cole, however would not stand idly by, and lead the Imperial vessels at hand in a determined and bloody holding action until the siege could finally be lifted by a massive counterattack by the combined might of Battlefleet Calixis and the Adeptus Mechanicus. In recognition of the key part the vessel played in the salvation of Port Wander, the Mechanicus personally took charge in repairing the extensive damage the ship had sustained, re-fitting the stricken Plasma Drive components with superior archeotech alternatives dating from before the Dark Age of Technology, sourced from the vaults of the Lathe Worlds themselves. From that day forward, the vessel’s master enginseer has always been a member of the Mechanicus. Furthermore, as a result of Benedictus’ courageous action and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, he was awarded with a Warrant of Trade, and thus the Cole Dynasty was born. In addition to the Warrant, Benedictus was also rewarded with his own ship, the Bulwark Metallica, and so the ‘Lord Drusus’ remained in the service of the Imperial Navy under new command.
The ship was briefly returned to deep patrol duty, once again operating out of the newly rebuilt Port Wander. However, with the decline of the Port’s strategic significance, the ‘Lord Drusus’ was withdrawn deeper into the Calixis sector to be re-stationed at Port Wrath, near to the Sector Capital of Scintilla. From here the ship began it’s new role running routine in-sector escort duty for merchant shipping deemed important to the Administratum. Nearly 200 years of largely uneventful service passed before the ‘Lord Drusus’ once again found itself in true action.
In early 796.M41 the ship put in at Scintilla to replenish it’s crew with volunteers and those citizens unlucky enough to be ‘persuaded’ by the gangs of ship recruiters. And It was during this visit, that Elias Cole, a descendant of the great Benedictus Cole, hastily volunteered to sign on with the ship’s crew in his desperation to flee off-world following the fatal shooting of the nephew of Sector Governor Marius Hax.
Later that year, while the ship was making a routine resupply at the Naval depot of 88 Tanstar at the sector’s edge, word was received that the grand cruiser Gaunt Triumph had been found drifting around a nameless world in the Unbeholden Reaches. Reports stated that the few survivors onboard the wreck spoke of a vast and pale structure drifting through the void like the carcass of a creature picked clean by eyeless things in the depths of lightless water. They were said to whimper of the glow of the thing’s deathly light and the voices of the dead wailing in their minds like the scratching of talons on the inside of a coffin lid. Some claimed to have set foot within the thing, and told of “echoes that sing” and “silver trees that wept blood". The ‘Lord Drusus’ was one of several Imperial vessels dispatched to investigate and verify the claims.
The familiar journey of old to Port Wander was uneventful, and the ship proceeded through the Maw unimpeded. However, no sooner had the vessel returned to realspace than it received coded orders from the Holy Inquisition to put in at Footfall immediately to receive passengers. Coming aboard were an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos, Vownus Kaede, and a squad of the super-human warriors of the Adeptus Astartes Deathwatch Chapter lead by the enigmatic Epistolarie Thoros. The Inquisitor commanded the ship’s captain to make haste for a set of co-ordinates seemingly relating to an unremarkable area of uncharted deep void. Yet as the ship dropped out of warp space it detected a heavily encrypted signal, that only through the skill of one of the ships enginseers Artificer’s Mate Serverus and the use of complex cogitator cyphers provided by the Inquisitor, was ascertained to be an automated distress signal from an Imperial space station not recorded in any official logs. As the vessel drew near to the signal’s source, they discovered a station of Imperial construction, seemingly docked with a spacehulk of enormous size. Neither the Inquisitor nor Epistolrie seemed surprised by the discovery, and commanded the captain to proceed to dock with the station. Once docked, the Inquisitor, Epistolrie, and the other hulking members of the Deathwatch detachment entered the station after commanding that the captain, on pain of death, ensure that no-one else be allowed to set foot upon it.
Two days later, the warning klaxons of the ship’s main airlock blared into life, and the bloodied and battered form of the Epistolrie, aided by a strange, blue-skinned humanoid xeno clad in a beat-up, angular battlesuit, stumbled frantically into the ships interior, dragging the near lifeless corpse of the Inquisitor behind them. The Epistolrie screamed at the startled ship’s crew to seal the outer lock. But before any of them could react, huge talons gripped the outer doors, and in a frenzy of venomous talons, feeder tentacles,
and barbed flesh hooks a dozen chitinous horrors spewed forth from the hellish strobe-lit interior of the station. The Lictors had boarded the ‘Lord Drusus’.
The initial fighting was fierce as the Epistolrie and the Tau Kor’El Tau’n Y’Eldi Ko’vash Gal’leath rallied the crew’s armsmen in a fighting retreat into the depths of the ship, managing to down a number of the deadly creatures through weight of numbers and sheer determination. But the ship’s labyrinthine corridors and ducts were to prove the ideal environment for the Lictor’s to stalk their prey, their chameleonic scales rendering them virtually invisible within the dark and cramped innards of the ship. Within hours, the dire xenos had spread throughout the aft sections of the ship, and the crew there were being slaughtered by the score.
The Epistolrie, still aided by Gal’leath and now joined by a stalwart group of armsmen led by the courageous young gunslinger Elias Cole fought their way through the ships interior, successfully delivering the now semi-conscious Inquisitor to the ship’s bridge where an urgent discussion with the captain was held. Between bouts of unconsciousness, the Inquisitor demanded that under no circumstances should any of the xeno predators be allowed to escape. Gunnery turrets were set to destroy any escape craft leaving the vessel and a heated debate ensured regarding how best to destroy the Lictors onboard, the station and the spacehulk itself. The enginseer Serverus reluctantly acknowledged that he could destabilise the Plasma drives in such a way that would destroy the ship and station, but that the blast may dissipate and therefore be insufficient to also obliterate the adjoining hulk. However, following an awkward and distrustful exchange of ideas after Gal’leath offered up some knowledge from the workings of his race’s technology, the unlikely duo were able to formulate a method for overloading the Plasma drives that would channel the blast through the ship, destroying the station and spacehulk, but theoretically leaving the fore sections of the ship intact. The only flaw in the plan being that the drive settings would have to be set manually, in an infested part of the ship, with no guarantee of escape or survival from the resulting plasma blast.
Epistolrie, Tau and Elias Cole escort Serverus to drive room.
Encounter Lictor. Epistolrie finishes the creature but is badly wounded.
Manage to rig explosion
Flee in shuttle piloted by Tau – dodges gun turret fire
Station and spacehulk are destroyed
‘Lord Drusus’ is crippled and put out of service – drifts helplessly in space
Inquisition arrive – ordo Malleus
Tau taken prisoner (again!)
When Inquisitor Kaede recovered, enlists Elias Cole and Brother Serverus as Acolytes.
Epistolrie returns to Deathwatch active duty.
Kaede determined to get Tau back from Ordo Malleus for Xeno knowledge
‘Lord Drusus’ sits rotting in dry-dock for 20 years
Kaede uses Acolytes to track down and expose Crow Father in return for Ordo Malleus handing over Tau.
Cole’s family are murdered. Cole inherits Warrant of Trade. Has ‘Lord Drusus’ refitted with the help of Serverus.
816.M1 – Present Day. Ship reconstruction complete. Renamed the ‘Ghost of Golgenna’