Hive Sibillus, Scintilla – Calixis Sector
Gaius Cromwell, heir to the Cromwell Dynasty, had been based on Scintilla for several years since the death of his brother Julius. Gaius and Julius had been travelling at the time with their father as he conducted his exploration of the Koronus Expanse, but an on-ship incident had claimed the younger brother’s life, leading Augustus Cromwell to send his heir out of the Expanse to continue his education in the relative safety of the Hive World.
With Gaius now a man, Augustus had concocted a plan to both bring his son to the Expanse once more, while also growing their Dynasty. He had arranged with money lenders from House Krin to purchase a new Vagabond-Class Transport under construction at Port Wander, though this deal hinged upon Augustus completing an operation within the Winterscale’s Realm of the Expanse, something that would apparently bring the Dynasty much wealth.
While Gaius continued his studies in the family home on Scintilla, his newly appointed Seneschal Cyquoraine went about the task of recruiting key personnel to crew the new ship. Already the Navigator Qu’uab Vor’cle had been sent by her own house, which had long ties with the Cromwell family, and an explorator, Magnus Pax, had been selected to adopt the mantle of Enginseer Prime aboard the new vessel – nominally named, The Pilrim’s Burden.
As Cyquoraine completed his latest appointment, that of a former Adepta Sororitas Sister Dialogous named Solange, unusual news was received at the house by the Scintillan Port Authority – the flagship of the Dynasty, the Eternal Praetorian, had arrived in the system under tow by another ship and was currently making its way towards the planet.
Initial investigations by the fledgling crew revealed that the Lunar-Class Cruiser towing the Eternal Praetorian was the Bansidhe, the Flagship of the Armengarde Dynasty. This news was followed shortly by a message from Aoife Armengarde, the Warrant holder, which revealed that Augustus Cromwell had passed away during his mission within the Expanse. Aoife intended to return the ship and the body of Gaius’ father.
A message was also received from Port Wander from a man claiming to be an agent of Augustus his father – a man named Orbest Dray. Dray claimed in his communication that he was holding a package for Gaius and would meet him in the Chamber of Gold upon his first visit to Port Wander.
With appropriate arrangements made, Gaius met with Aoife in the Cromwell family home. Aoife revealed that she and Augustus had encountered one another several times in the past during their exploration of the Winterscale’s Realm, and that she had happened upon the Eternal Praetorian while the ship was adrift and bereft of the majority of its crew. The Praetorian bore signs of an internal battle, and putting the remaining crew to the question had revealed little of what had transpired on the ship. Augustus’ body had apparently been discovered abed, with no indication of what had ended his life.
Aoife returned Augustus’ body and asked little in return for her assistance save the bare minimum costs of damages incurred to her vessel by towing the stricken ship back to Scintilla. With all other arrangements taken care of, Aoife took her leave of the household to attend other business on the Hive World.
With the former warrant holder dead, Gaius had to take steps to secure his family’s lineage. The nature of the warrant required that all passings had to be carried out by ritual overseen by no less than a sector Governor. There were also substantial repairs required to the Praetorian as well as the replacement of most of its crew. Magnus began repair operations and was able to determine that the ships calamity had begun when the Gellar Field was saboutaged mid-Warp, leading to the wholesale breakout of chaos aboard the vessel. Someone had subsequently attempted to saboutage life sustainers aboard the ship but had failed, though apparently not in the captain’s quarters with an autopsy of Augustus revealing that he had died of asphyxiation.
Gaius managed to meet with Lord Sector Marius Hax and arrange for him to preside over the ceremony to make Gaius the new holder of the Cromwell Dynasty. Hax had a few requests in return – that Giaus keep an ear out for information on a sect of the Inquisition known as the Tyrantine Cabal, as well as an area of the Expanse known as Zone 15 – something Aoife had also mentioned in passing earlier.
Zone 15 was apparently one of the former waystations in the Koronus Passage, that had now been heavily interdicted by the Inquisition. Ships would still occasionally pass through Port Wander enroute to Zone 15, but that their crews were never allowed to disembark at the stations. The same ships would return from Zone 15 several months later, completely bereft of personnel and bearing the marks of substantial battle damage. Hax even reported that a Battle Barge of the Adeptus Arbites had been observed passing through Port Wander enroute to Zone 15, and had never returned.
Hax also informed Gaius that he believed an agent of the Inquisition was already operating on Port Wander. Gaius agreed to Hax’s offer, and the Lord Sector followed up by offering repair crews to assist with the works on the Praetorian, as well as replacement crew.
During the subsequent ceremony of investiture at which Gaius was named the new Cromwell, a single figure was noticed in the crowd by the explorators – a naval captain. With the navy not commonly liking Rogue Traders, it was unusual to see one of their number at the ceremony. Cyquoraine tailed the captain after the ceremony, eventually losing him at a naval docking facility. He was able to discover however that the man was named Captain Keel, and that he was the commander of a Lunar-Class Cruiser called the Hand of Redemption – part of Battlefleet Calixis.
Over the next several days, preparations were made so that the Praetorian could leave anchor at Scintilla. With the hull of the ship still heavily damaged, Gaius intended to take the ship first to Fenksworld – the planet in the Calixis Sector with the best naval shipyards – a suggestion of Aoife’s. Magnus had discovered that agents of Hax hidden amoung the repair crews had concealed auger and recording devices on the Praetorian – he and Gaius decided to leave them for the time being, noting their location.
Finally with minimal crew, and a hull still bearing the marks of battle, the new crew of the Eternal Praetorian left the relative safety of Scintilla, turning their prow towards Fenksworld, and eventually Port Wander – Gaius Cromwell intent upon continuing his family’s work within the Koronus Expanse.