Purpose. Divine Purpose. It was finally within his grasp again. He would not lose it this time. These last few years were not some cosmic joke taunting his faith (or increasingly, a lack thereof).
They couldn't be a waste. No. He wouldn't accept that.
The downward spiral began with the rise of Levedescu and her commitment to autoclaves and medicine. His spiritual role in the Church, the ritual bloodletting and sermons, was replaced with trained medicae officers with sterile blades and aseptic conditions. The rumors of the Pilgrym gave him purpose then. Throne above, it had seemed like a blessing when he was selected for that fatal role in the Red Hour. He had imagined it a thousand times, taking his keening axe to the Pilgrym’s neck, his glouring mask flecked with blood. He would mark the beginning of a new age for the Imperium, one where the Golden Throne would fall to ruin and His spirit would be set free. And then maybe his own meager existence could finally end (and if he wasn’t found wanting, perhaps he could join Him in His domain). But it had been a lie, the Pilgrym. He was sure of that now.
Had any of them even seen this “Pilgrym” amidst the madness of that day? He hadn’t. Rumors said that it was some sniveling child. Arnesen was convinced of that and was persuasive enough to turn Levedescu’s ear…
What was certain, however, was that the "Pilgrym" had been whisked away at the height of the Red Hour by that obsidian-clad brute and his mindless drones. Later of course, he learned his name was Lazaros. Damned Inquisition. Emperor's servants his arse. As if they could see into His mind, appreciate His grand design.
The Daylight Wall Anomaly. That is what they called the debacle now. It was an ignominious moment for the Church. But more than anything, it was an ignominious moment for him. He failed as an acirgeon. Then he failed at completing the Red Hour, failed at playing his part of the ritual, of taking the role of the Arch-heretic (forever curse his name, and his traitor legion). His purpose had almost slipped away then. Almost.
He found it again with his excommunication. He couldn’t have stayed there anyway, with all those accusing faces. Those looks of pity from the congregation. And worse, the looks of understanding and acceptance. As though they had anticipated it from the beginning.
Through exile he had found a path and a purpose. Even if it was not pursuing what Levedescu intended. He was tasked with tracking the Pilgrym. Instructed to leave Terra with the headless “missionary” and connect with other cells of the Church of the Red Athenaeum, and anyone else that could serve their purpose.
It was all a fool’s errand. That much was clear now. How could they track the Inquisition? Besides, they hardly knew what they were searching for. And could this “Pilgrym,” a child, really repair that which the adepts of the Mechanicum had failed at for centuries, prolonging this failed Imperium? No. He thought not.
Regardless, not much after they had taken recruits from the moldering ruins of Hive Secundus had the headless Arnesen disappeared. Off to murder some worthless wretches for credits he suspected. He always seemed more a headhunter than a man of the cloth. He never trusted the freak, with that horrid bird always fluttering about. Always watching. But what a tough old bastard Arnesen was! He really saved their skin from those vat-grown Furnace Howlers, after getting to Primus. When he closed his eyes, he could still see his headless body stalking through the pitch black of the underhive sumps, starkly defined by the staccato muzzle flare of his Urdeshi submachine gun. Few were better at breaching a room. Few were better at killing folk, if he was being honest. Throne, he could use that "talent" now…
But Arnesen was gone. No sense dwelling on it. Lingering on it wouldn't help breach the Cagorea Trade Dynasty's docked Gothic class cruiser, the Breath of Organthus. The vessel had been languishing in the Nyx Space Port for over a year, soot black and burnished, as though it was forgotten by the Trade Dynasty. Honestly, it probably was; Tiberius Cagorea, the Dynasty’s leader, was a corpulent old fool, likely more interested in spiced wine and curios from old Terra than conducting meaningful trade negotiations. Yes, the Breath of Organthus would be an easy target.
He didn't need Arnesen’s help at all. He had a good crew. The stoic Marcelo Lythgoe, all corded muscle and adrenalin. Petr Danev and his rictus grin. There wasn’t a better tracker this side of Vastarian. More than anything though, he had the Emperor's protection. He was watching over them. The Tarot said as much.
The haggard crone was long dead, likely still rotting beneath the Serrated Stairs on Terra. He missed her in a fashion. Her psychoactive tarot cards were dead in his hands, he didn't have the psychic gift, but he had been learning the cards, learning their meanings. Learning to read the threads of fate.
The Dishonoured Scion.
The Silver Door, inverted.
The Blind Seer.
He would “liberate” one of the Trade Dynasty’s astropaths or perhaps a navigator, if any were still alive. It had been hell since that malevolent rift opened and consumed the heavens in a fulminating storm of kaleidoscopic color. Vastarian had turned into a warzone of conflicting ideologies, championed by saints. No. False saints.
Ligeia Orr was not false. She was His light, a pure embodiment of His spirit. She would guide them forward, and with His blessing, bring this rotting Imperium to an end.
Yes. He had purpose again. He would not lose it now.
|Kirill Blokhin and his hand-picked crew of Church of the Red Athenaeum members breached the hull of the Breath of Organthus, a gothic class cruiser with associations with the Cagorea trade dynasty, in search of a living astropath. Since the encroachment of dreams and psychic upheaval that consumed Vastarian, widespread communication was virtually impossible without a “functioning” astropath.
|Unbeknownst to the invading cultists, the intrusion did not go unrecognized. Deeper within the bowels of the ship, custodial servitors activated and began to prowl the tenebrous darkness.
|Lythgoe continued to stalk through the echoing hull of the ship, covering Kirill as he scanned the lower decks, bathed in a crimson glow.
|Once a glorious beacon of the Grenaki technological zeitgeist, the Harvester was now a screaming creature of pitted oxidized metals and unthinking motion. It, with its custodial servitors, would cleanse the ship of these biological contaminants.
|A massive corroded custodial servitor burst onto the gantry way, and with a whirl of servos sent Danev flying, limp with unconsciousness or worse.
|More custodial servitors were called to the breach, intent on eradicating the intruders. One with a burnished blowtorch set their targeting engrams on Kirill.
We hope you enjoyed the first battle report for Vastarian! It was played during the Rich Grimmond Inq28 event earlier this summer! It was played with Jonny Lashley (Witchhammerstudio) on his stunning “The Breath of Organthus” board. The Church of the Red Athenæum may have won this game, but they do not know the Cagorea Trade Dynasty has been dealing with the YOD Death Cults, and they are not a forgiving sort…
- Eric Wier