They say in space, no one can hear you scream. They say a lot of bullshit.
In truth, it really did get eerily quiet on the Minerva’s bridge, as the four red dots of incoming torpedoes blinked closer and closer to us. Too close. The bridge lights flickered, then the whole ship lurched about a step to the left in a groan of tortured steel. From the bridge it didn’t seem so bad, but whatever can shake a 29-megaton cruiser like that is something to be reckoned with. I felt the minds of the ship crew around me, like leaves in a forest, start to shiver as in a strong wind, some of them torn away, screaming.
-“Damage report.” If anything, the Lord Admiral sounded mildly bored.
- “A couple hits aft, near the plasma drives. Too close for comfort. At least two thousand crew casualties, many burn injuries as well, I’m going to head to the Medicae to get things moving there…”
- “Permission granted. Make it so.” (Seriously, what is it with him and that sentence?)
- “I wasn’t asking for permission.” … followed by a stream of nasty sounding binary as Divis’ misshapen form headed out.
- “Brother Krinch, get the Master of Ordinance a firing solution on that torpedo frigate, let’s shut them down before they reload.”
Sure, ask the blind guy to be the ship’s eyes, that sounds perfectly reasonable. Good thing I cheat. In the emptiness of space, the Chaos crew’s minds were like a red beacon of hate. I let them guide me as I locked the auspex on target. “Give ’em Hell, Malcolm.”
-“For Chaos scum like them? They’d probably enjoy that”, the ex-mercenary replied as he lined up his shots. We were already on an approach vector to the frigate, almost a collision course, really. The Master of Ordinance waited until we were almost on them, then the helmsman veered starboard and brought the full might of our macrobattery broadside to bear. The ship hummed, almost seemed to sing as projectiles the size of houses roared through the void.
Our first volley took their voidshield out, and shells started pounding their hull. In my mind’s eye, I could now see a blue tint of fear creeping amidst the Chaos red. We weren’t done yet. Our bridge monitors went white for a second, then adjusted as our lance weapon raked across the frigate’s flank, piercing straight through.
- “Suck on my Dictator-class cruiser!” someone on bridge muttered. The Lord Admiral arched an eyebrow.
The frigate was trying to turn away now, venting crew and debris out of gaping holes in it’s hull. A hive of angry hornets, our bombers buzzed in for the kill.
-“Right, let’s mop up these hors d’oeuvre, I have a feeling we just got the main dish’s attention.” And indeed, one of the chaos cruisers started peeling off from the main battle and heading towards us. We had advanced about half way towards the Luna’saad, and the craftworld, or ship, or whatever it was now took up most of our forward viewport. Silhouetted against it, the Chaos flagship also started to head for us, bristling with every kind of armament imaginable.
- “Look like a juicy piece, sir. We’re gonna need us some more knives”.
Two of our light cruisers set course to join us as we got ready for the second stage of the battle. Reed and our Seneschal took off to take command of those – not literally for our winged Master of Whispers.
The Chaos cruiser proved a considerably tougher nut to crack than the frigates. Our torpedoes and bombers struggled to get through its defensive turrets, and our main guns could just barely get through its void shields. Still, we were starting to put the hurt on him when one of our light cruisers ventured too close to the Luna’saad…. and paid for it dearly. The ship had already been shaken by a couple of lance hits, but that was nothing compared to the tendril of pure chaos that struck out from the Luna’saad. Thousands of crew died from sheer shock. They were the lucky ones. The others were screaming, trying to gouge their own eyeballs out, or those of their crew-mates for the more extroverted. The few remaining sane ones worked frantically to get the ship back out of range, but it was too late. The tendril hit again, and then again. Soon the screaming spread through every single vox frequency from the stricken cruiser and the Master of Ordinance had to abandon ship before it was too late. Then deathly silence fell. I was probably the only one to pick it up, but I could hear the lord admiral mutter “Whatever makes you happy…”. Sometimes I wonder what he’s on about.
Meanwhile, our last surviving bombers had managed to deal a fatal blow to the chaos cruiser, and not a moment too soon for the Chaos flagship had just gotten within range of its lance weapons. The Minerva’s void shields took the brunt of the damage as we made a first pass against the larger Chaos ship, and the Victrix even scored a lucky torpedo hit, but it became painfully clear that we were outgunned, and if those lances didn’t eventually get us, the chaos attacks would just grind us down. The Chaos ship, unaffected by those, was staying close to the Luna’saad, baiting us in.
Time was running against us so it was time for a change of tactics. We regrouped aboard the Minerva again and prepared for another run. If we couldn’t outgun it, we could try and outrun it. Divis headed back to the plasma drive, and our helmsman proceeded to coax every bit of speed he could out of it. The ship was shaking and groaning now, moving more than twice as fast as it was designed to. Now if the chaos ship didn’t get us, there was the chance our drives might explode and flood the bridge with plasma as hot as the inside of a star. Oh, what a lovely day!
As we came close to the Chaos ship again, we had the satisfaction of seeing Malcolm score a solid hit with our main lance, making the Repulsive-class cruiser even more so. It would take a lot more than that to take it out, but we were content with just slowing it down for now. Then we blasted past it leaving a trail of ionized gases. We were out of it’s main guns arc, but not out of trouble yet. The Chaos attack hit the Minerva like a pillow the size of a moon, trying to smother us with fear and madness. A mental shield I didn’t even know was there sprang out of the Hollow Atlas to protect the bridge crew, but everywhere else alarms and screams rang out. The crew of the Minerva were all hardened veterans and the officers did their best to restore order, but we weren’t going to last long under that kind of assault. Time to do what we came there to do and bugger off. My turn then.
I opened my mind to the Warp. If that brush with Chaos earlier felt like a wind, this close up the Luna’saad was a full blown hurricane, tendrils of chaos whipping around in every direction, impossible to predict, too fast to follow, our cruiser like a tiny raft caught in it. In the middle of the storm, a single quiet spot, almost impossibly tiny. There!
The helmsman twisted the massive cruiser around to reach the coordinates (Imagine pitching a basketball from Terran orbit, that’s the kind of accuracy that takes), and finally the Webway leading to the Luna’saad materialized. We had just a few seconds to grab our gear, and head into the breach.
Join a Rogue Trader crew they said. A life of adventure and riches beyond your imaginations they said. Well, at least the demonic teats we encountered on the way were something new.