‘We conquer paradise
just to burn it to the ground.
We build the future
to honor past’s we’ve left behind.
We bring destruction
we bring war without an end…’
Distant constellations and galaxies sparkled incandescently in the infinite blackness of space. Purple clouds draped celestial highways that led everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. The vastness of the scene through the plas-glass always held a feeling of awe, regardless of the amount of times she’d travelled the interstellar highways.
Sister Superior Amelia had been standing at the view port for some time, gazing out across the cosmos, with only the hum of the ships power core for company. She came here for moments of reflection, contemplation and meditation, offering up libations to the God-Emperor and thanking him for her chance to serve the Imperium of Man.
Something was unnerving her. A troubling thought in the back of her mind. She hoped that the God-Emperor would lend her his light for a brief moment so that she may focus on her inner self with clarity. Her upbringing in the Convent had been strict and regimented, paving the way for her to become a Daughter of the Emperor in later life. With those teachings she was shown to rise above feelings of doubt or remorse and to hold His light within like a beacon to dispel all darkness. The darkness of the mind was to turn your back on the God Emperor, and in turn opened the door to fiendish entities of The Immaterium. That was the way of the witch, the heretic, the traitor.
The ships sensors had picked up a weak signal from the Alpha sector, and had been ordered to investigate. A mission of Battle Sisters from The Ancient Order of the Exalted Saint had been assigned to the interception and procurement of what appeared to be a derelict space hulk. It was unclear, though, as to the origins of the derelict, and there had even been some hushed whispers that it could be one of the fabled Black Ships that had been taken over.
Amelia caught movement in her peripheral vision and turned to see Sister Cneajna approach from a darkened hallway. She halted and crossed her arms over her chest in the sign of the Aquila.
“Ave Imperator” Replied Amelia, “what news do you bring me, Sister?”
“We have visual contact with the derelict. We are trying to transmit Imperial codes on all known frequencies, but so far we have heard nothing”
“Continue as you are, and also scan for life forms aboard, we can leave nothing to chance”
“Aye” replied Sister Cneajna, before turning and heading off into the dark corridor beyond. Amelia turned back to the window to resume her vigil and to return to her silent prayers.
As she neared the command bridge, Amelia could hear the echo of her footfalls reverberating down the long, high, ornately gothic corridors. Structures that were centuries old, but still looked as new as the day they were first put in orbit. Truly a credit to the tech priests that tended to it.
She came to a huge doorway and paused. Reaching out her right hand, she punched at the shimmering access panel, and the door separated in the middle with a hiss as it opened.
She stepped into the vast command bridge. The room was dimly back-lit which gave the gloom an ethereal blue aura to it. Tech Priests attended to various control panels, occasionally muttering in some old tongue, as though nurturing the navigational instruments.
Amelia marched across the chamber, the footfalls of her Celestian armor giving a thudding sound with each step. Servitors momentarily paused and turned to see what was making the noise, only to hurriedly look down at the floor and resume their duties. It was not their place for them to gaze upon a Daughter of the Emperor. A tall spindly form in red robes that looked as though they were as old as the God-Emperor himself stepped from behind a nav-console. The hood covered most of the Tech-Priest’s face. The eyes were golden orbs set in darkness, Amelia could only see from mouth down. Wires and tubing suggested some kind of life support system working alongside some cybernetic enhancement. A common feature with Tech Priests.
‘Sister Amelia, it would appear that the vessel is indeed of Pre-Heresy design. We are having difficulty locking onto it with our systems, as it seems it is rife with temporal instabilty’
‘What are you trying to tell me, priest?’ replied Amelia
‘That warp energies have saturated the hull, and everything contained within’
‘So, it is witch magic we are dealing with? A hulk carrying traitors I suspect…?’
‘I have nothing further at this time, Sister.’
Sister Amelia walked over to the Com-screen and stared at the vessel hanging in space. Occasionally she would notice the shimmering of the temporal instability, as the space hulk tried to remain in one dimension. Upon closer inspection she could see that the shell of the derelict was in what would seem a state of disrepair. Rusted plates and rivets looking as though they would just disintegrate at any moment.
The thought of foul energies lingered foremost in Amelias mind, and she wondered just what, if anything, was aboard that ship. Normally a scan would have given them all the data they would need, which in turn would assist them in what kind of boarding action it would require; a salvage operation or a tactical military spearhead for a boarding and elimination mission. So far the derelict hulk was not easily giving up its secrets, and Amelia knew that only time would reveal what, if anything was on board. There was little that could be done while the ship adjusted itself to material space. To attempt any kind of boarding action while the ship was in this state would be suicidal. This in itself suggested there was no life aboard, as the ships Tech Adepts would engage the anti-warp drives to assist the translation into the material universe.
Despite this thought, Amelia couldn’t shake the feeling that, as she looked out at the derelict through the cathedric plas-glass windows of the deck, that something was looking back at her from the many dark portal windows in the hull of the city-sized behemoth. She unconsciously reached for her rosary and held the icon tightly in her fingers as she visualized the Emperors light dissipating the lurking shadows.
Sister Cneajna sat in her billet dressed down in combat fatigues, cross-legged on the floor. Beside her the open tin of lapping powder gave the air in her room a faint, oily aroma as she purposefully worked the rag on one of the shoulder pads of her Celestian plate armor. Her meditations were deep, and at that moment there was only her, her armor and her God-Emperor that existed, and it was these thoughts she polished into her sacred armor, her belief and her armor becoming one and the same – protection against the enemies of the Imperium