“Everyone stood at attention as the All-Hands whistle is sounded by the Officer-on-Duty. Nervous silence descended upon the bridge of the Bellum Praeda; the only sound being the drone of Servitors continuing about their programmed duties. All awaited their new Captain. The only details known about the captain was that he was a lost descendent of the Loken Dynasty and an imperial hero. “From beyond the Bridge hatch, the clanking of the lift came to a stop and its safety gate could be heard clattering open. The cadence of an escort leaving the lift was followed by a metallic thud followed by another. The nervousness of the bridge crew rose as it dawned on everyone that the metallic thuds were the footsteps of someone or something walking to the bridge. Something like a heavily augmented Mechanicus or a battle servitor.
“The rhythmic footsteps grew closer. As it approached an underlying blend of an electronic respirator wheezing, the sound of grinding gears, and a periodic burst of steam being released was coupled with the rhythmic thuds. The thudding stopped outside the hatchway as the cadence of an escort continued forward. A file of Imperial Navy Armsmen marched into the grand chamber of the bridge to take detail on either side of the hatch.
“Absolute silence fell across the grand chamber as all waited with baited breath. The only sound heard was the electronic wheezing of the respirator of the being beyond the hatch. An electronic buzzing buzzing could be heard as it chuckled at something it found humerous. Then the rhythmic metallic steps resumed as a monstrous form of what is at first impression a Mechanicus steps through the hatch.
“Towering at least a head span over the tallest on the bridge, a being more machine and metal than flesh walked out of the hatch. The Officer-on-Duty bellowed “Attention on Deck” as everyone snapped in salute to the Rogue Trader and Captain of the Bellum Praeda. Some looked forward, avoiding staring at the man-machine while a few that were denser than the rest stared in gaping horror at their new captain and lord.
“Standing over his escort, the Rogue Trader was a man who survived a catastrophe only to be rebuilt as a machine. Nearly 80% of his body had been replaced with mechanical parts. Tubes flowing with unknown liquids, steam outlets, sparking wires, transistors flowing with power, and other unknown technological components weave in and out of the armor plating covering most of the Rogue Trader’s body. His head was nearly all metal studded with rivets with only part of his skull and the right side of his face stretched into joining with the metal. One arm is a massive bionic limb with grasping claw and an attached weapon array. His right arm was original flesh but little could be seen as it was covered by his fine clothing but his hand, hideously scarred by burns, clutched his Captain’s staff. Both legs were hulking affairs of metal and pistons ending in large petal like arrangements in place of feet. All of this can be seen beneath the flowing cloak of some alien beast of midnight ebony figure, etched with golden thread. A vast array of imperial medals adorns the chest of the elegant long-tailed coat from which peaks a white ruffled shirt; clothing intended to be elegant in nature yet only enhancing the alien nature of the cybernetic build beneath. Centered in the chest of the cyborg is the symbol of the Mechanicus superimposed over three concentric gears.
“An electronic buzz is heard through the metallic grill that fills the space of his mouth. A sound that could almost pass for a clearing of one’s throat before speaking if it was not overlaid with static. ‘At ease.’ announces the Rogue Trader as he continues his metallic, rhythmic thudding walk to his Captain’s throne.
At the throne he plugs himself into the systems ships vox and with great dexterity runs his fingers over the rune screen before speaking.
“Attention crew of the Bellum Praeda. I am your captain Victris Lucius Fortunis-Loken. I applaud each and every one of you. Having heard of your valiant and successful attempts at resisting the vile mutinous creatures I have no doubt we as a crew can conquer anything set before us. It is therefore my honor to have been given the privilege of leading you all forward, with the god-emperor’s blessing, into the wonders of beyond the Imperium as your captain. As you have shown me and those of your shipmates, the god-emperor has placed his faith in each of you justly. “In conclusion, I know as with this recent event, all other events before us will be met with the same conviction and zeal that will make the god-emperor proud.
“Now please join me in a prayer to the ship spirit of the Bellum Praeda.
“Mighty spirit of the Bellum Praeda we all thank you for the right to walk your halls again. With the utmost respect we will work with you and for you in the time ahead. Please grant us your favor, trust and friendship so that we may now and forever work together as a family. In his blessing we flourish, the Emperor blesses.”
“Navigator. Plot a course to Footfall in the Koronus Expanse. I want a stop at the Battlefield for a salvage operation.”
And with those words, the crews hurried to their stations and began to initiate the launch sequence of the Bellum Praeda. Officers bellowed orders and oversaw the Bellum Praeda leave its docking birth and begin the slow acceleration of a ship of its size. Within half a day, the ship was ready for Warp as the Navigator plotted his course. When the ship made its warp jump the Navigator took the risk of using a warp storm to accelerate their passage. His gamble paid off for what normally took two to three days took half a day.
Arriving at the Battleground, the Bellum Praeda began a sweep for the Salvation Beacon of the Emperor’s Bounty. A Light Cruiser lost to the warp over a year in the past. With a writ of salvage, Victris had full rights to salvage the ship. The Navigator reached far and wide with his third sight into the warp and noticed an anomalous shadow cast into the warp. Victris used the Auger arrays of the Bellum Praeda to pinpoint the Salvation Beacon in the midst of a swath of debris 300 kilometers in diameter.
As the Bellum Praeda approached the debris, another ship was detected coming around a nearby planetoid. The ship, a Frigate, came at them on an interception course. The Navigator laid out his tarot cards for Victris to discern the future. As he read the cards his warp eye fluttered open in surprise only to flood the bridge with a brief glimpse of the warp; several fell to the ground driven mad by what they saw while all but the strongest willed were shocked by what they glimpsed.
The Navigator looked up and spoke to the rogue trader in the secret tongue of the Loken Dynasty. Victris surged up from the reading bellowing commands. “Position us against the ship for a broadside assault. I want that ship taken out immediately.” The Bellum Praeda ponderously swung about and fired a barrage of Macro Cannon shells at the oncoming ship. With its Void shields down its hull was peppered with shells but none penetrated. At this point the Bellum Praeda hailed the Frigate.
“You will stand down and cease hostilities or be destroyed,” announced Victris. His hail was returned. “Bellum Pradea, I am Rogue Trader Hadrack Fel, Captain of the Sable Mistress. The Emperor’s Bounty is my salvage by rights of first find. You will exit the area or I will add your vessel’s wreckage to that of the Battlefield.”
“So be it,” responded Victris.
Much more agile the Frigate was able to swing behind the Bellum Praeda where its lances fired but missed the Bellum Praeda. Pushing its engines, the Bellum Praeda moved at full speed towards the debris field and turned to run parallel to it. The Frigate, in an attempt to catch up and retain its rear position with the Bellum Praeda put on a burst of speed. Moving too quickly it was not able to turn in time before running right into the wreckage at full speed. The emperor was not smiling upon Hadrack Fel as his ship ran into a large piece of wreckage that ripped wide open his starboard side, ripped off his auger arrays, and destroyed his drive engines. Aflame and bleeding crew, metal, and air into the void, Hadrack Fel’s ship was crippled without engines. The Bellum Praeda swung around and within two hours arrived at the voided ship. Sending over the 819th Death Komitz, the Penal Legion quartered on the Bellum Praeda, the legion brutally suppressed any resistance. At some point, Hadrack Fel and his closest crew escaped upon an in-system ship to slink away to hide in the wreckage that was the Battleground.
The Sable Mistress was now a prize of the Loken Dynasty!