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/qst/ - Quests

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Princess Marie Naivetus Sigismundus has been tasked with governance of the Questarai Thread. This chain of stellar systems has a well-earned reputation for unruliness, and it is even whispered that the unholy taint of Chaos has been allowed to take root.
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There are two main rankings of concern in this game: Dominion and Reputation. Dominion reflects how much territory Princess Marie controls, while Reputation reflects the sentiment of her subjects and peers alike. As her Dominion and Reputation rankings rise (or fall), Marie's options for rulership of the Questarai Thread will change.

Be aware that other princesses have their own friends and rivals, and may judge Princess Marie by the company she keeps.

Marie's current retinue consists of her closest friend, the Lady Katherine 'Kitty' Helveticus; captain of the guardsmen, Hugo Kess; her tech-priest, Lauronum 15 Tragius; and voidship ensign from the Dark Age of Technology, Dara Sinclair.

Members of her retinue can act in her stead, and can grant her other boons.

Decisions will be made by majority vote.
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Having brought Bastius - capitol-world of the Questarai Thread - under the Pax Imperium, Princess Marie next travels to the neighboring stellar system, to answer a call to aid from the Space Marine Valorus Hansteen of the Eternal Swords. The pirates Marie faced on the moons of Bastius were only a small part of a larger army.

Princess Marie is rescued by Valorus's brother, Chapter Master Felton Hansteen. With the help of Marie's guardsmen, the Eternal Swords take back planet Scoria. From there, Marie and her tech-priest Lauronum plan an expedition to the space hulk called Rust in search of ships for Marie's war to retake the Questarai Thread.

Chapter Master Felton Hansteen seems intent on winning Marie's heart, and declares he will command the cruiser Ecumenical Blade as it escorts the princess, but Valorus trumps his brother and joins Princess Marie on her yacht to accompany the princess through the Contritum toward Rust. Felton and the cruiser disappear as Marie's yacht, the Iuvenis, is beset by pirates.

The Iuvenis crash-lands inside the space hulk, and the princess strikes a bargain with the Sutura-General of Rust. On the Sutura-General's command, his daughter Helina leads them through Rust toward the Columba Dei, an ancient ship built by highly advanced humans. Marie and her Space Marines find the ship infested with speaking xenos who seek to claim it as their own. As the xenos menace is dealt with, Tech-priest Lauronum discovers a passenger aboard the ship - a young woman frozen in time since the Dark Age of Technology.

And now war has come again to the Questarai Thread.
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"Captain Kess. You have been my most loyal companion through much of my conquest to this point. Now I need to send you away."

"Beg pardon, yer majesty?"

"Take your shuttle to the edge of the pirate fleet. I must know their strength."

"I'll contact you as soon as I have something to report." As he turns, Kess looks up at Valorus. "Don't get into trouble until I get back. Sir."

"You'd better hurry."

Marie is quick to act on her plans. Work crews triple their effort, spurred on by Princess Marie as she visits each ship in dock and addresses her laborers with the same fervor as she does her guardsmen.

Dara has been assigned to spend nearly every waking moment teaching herself to use the Columba Dei's cryptic control panel, while Lauronum has begun to coax the long-neglected machine spirit of the recaptured Perdition's Ferry to aid them in battle.

Twelve days after Kess departs, the stronghold of the Eternal Swords receives a vox.

"Captain, I'm glad to see you're still in one piece. I was beginning to worry."

"Beg pardon, yer majesty. Had to keep quiet until I was sure they wouldn't spot me. They've got a grand cruiser of their own, four cruisers, three escorts, unknown number of small attack craft. Fleet seems disorganized, but I think they're preparing to launch."

Marie's own fleet consists of the grand cruiser Perdition's Ferry; the two cruisers held by the Eternal Swords - the Shining Scourge and the Ecumenical Blade - and her newly-won ship the Columba Dei, which Provision-Master Pluvius has tentatively classified as a cruiser. Marie's pleasure-yacht, the Iuvenis, is slow to maneuver but in battle she has confidence it can match the power of an escort. Kess has the guardsman shuttle, but five Space Marines attack shuttles wait in the stronghold of the Eternal Swords.

"All vessels are battle-ready," reports Pluvius.

Marie has gathered Chapter Master Felton Hansteen and the rest of his Space Marines within the stronghold's library. The projection displayed before them is daunting.

Felton gives voice to the concern they all share. "We can't match them on even footing."

"What do you suggest, Chapter Master?"

"Please, Princess Sigismundus, call me Felton. If I die in this battle, may my last thought be of you speaking my name." Before the princess can feign a smile he continues. "We need to launch our full fleet toward Scalprum. If we can catch them before they've fully prepared to launch, we may gain some advantage."

"Wait, brother." Felton's own smile falters slightly when Valorus speaks. "I have another plan. Let me command the Blade and the Iuvenis into the Contritum. We'll flank the pirates and crush them between us!"

The two Space Marines look from one another toward Marie.

>Send your full fleet toward Scalprum before the pirates launch
>Send the Blade and Iuvenis into the Contritum to flank the pirates
>If we are going to attack them before they are ready to launch then we need everyone together. We'll attempt to catch them off guard with a frontal attack, but we'll divert to the alternative plan if Captain Kess informs us that we are too late and that they have already launched.
>>Send your full fleet toward Scalprum before the pirates launch
Seconded, also check'd and heil'd
Support >>5568188
Rolled 10, 5 = 15 (2d10)


+ 2 Princess Points

Previous thread:

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"It's a good plan, but I don't know if we can afford to split our forces. Catching the pirates by surprise will be a stroke of luck, and if we manage to do so, we'll need every ship together." Marie looks from the two Space Marines back to the cartographical projection. The display of the Contritum is deceptively simple. She looks back at Valorus and nods. "If we can't catch them by surprise, you have my permission to maneuver through the Contritum to a flanking position."

Chapter Master Felton leans forward on the table in front of Valorus and smiles at Marie. "Princess Sigismundus, I don't think we should consider such a dangerous..."

"I will consider every option, Felton." Marie's eyes are locked on the Chapter Master. Begin immediate preparations for launch. You will command the Perdition's Ferry. Assign a squad of your Eternal Swords to each ship."

Princess Marie's fleet is soon underway.

"The Perdition's Ferry and the Shining Scourge will engage the pirate grand cruiser." On the bridge of the Columba Dei, Marie watches the enormous ships begin to move into attack position. She cannot yet see the pirate fleet, but Dara assures her it is very close. "Valorus, you and I will engage the first cruiser that presents itself. The Iuvenis will remain near us and engage any other cruiser that approaches. We must winnow their ranks as quickly as possible."

Scalprum appears on the bridge's voxscreen. They are almost upon the pirates. Dara glances from her control panel to the princess. "They'll know we're here any moment, your majesty." A moment later Dara confirms her own prediction. "The pirate fleet is moving to intercept us. Contact in thirty seconds."

Suddenly, the control panel begins emitting a noise Marie to which has become familiar. An approaching ship.

"Captain Kess?" she asks, hope rising in her voice.

"No..." Dara's finger pecks at the dark glass and when she looks up at Marie her face has gone pale. "Two more cruisers are emerging from the Contritum! They're moving to flank us!"
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Before Valorus can turn the Blade to face the flanking cruisers the pirate ships have launched a salvo each. The vox on the Columba Dei is still transmitting and Marie can barely hear the shouts of the Space Marines and the ship's crew over the roar of bending metal as the Ecumenical Blade is struck again and again.

"Attack!" shouts Marie. Dara nods frantically and the voxscreen image swings away from Scalprum toward the beleaguered ship.

The woman in yellow is taking too long. Marie grips the railing in front of her and snaps her gaze toward Dara and at that instant Dara taps the control once more. "Firing forward beam array."

A flare of light lances out of Marie's ship but the plume of flame on the hull of the pirate cruiser is unsatisfying. The Columba Dei shakes and a panel on the wall explodes. Smoke begins to fill the bridge.

"Continue firing!"

There are too many cruisers.

The Eternal Swords had managed to draft enough men from the population of Scoria to man the Perdition's Ferry at nearly full complement, but Marie's hope of the pirates' grand cruiser being operated by a skeleton crew is quickly broken. The ship is obviously well-manned and its guns are unceasing from the moment Marie's fleet comes into range.

On the far side of the battle, the Shining Scourge has moved too far beyond the protection of the Perdition's Ferry and finds itself caught between the pirate grand cruiser and one of the newcomers.

Marie shouts at the voxscreen but all she can do is watch as the Scourge is crippled by a rain of explosions along both sides.

The Space Marine cruiser drifts like a corpse and the pirates seize the break in Marie's line. The grand cruiser throws another broadside salvo at the Perdition's Ferry and pushes forward. Two other cruisers fall in on the far side of the Ferry, forming a knifepoint with the pirate grand cruiser at the tip.
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"What is their heading?"

"Scoria, your majesty."

>Sacrifice the Perdition's Ferry to destroy the pirate grand cruiser
>Order all remaining ships to engage the pirate grand cruiser at all cost
>Fall back to the Space Marine stronghold on Scoria
>>Sacrifice the Perdition's Ferry to destroy the pirate grand cruiser
>Sacrifice the Perdition's Ferry to destroy the pirate grand cruiser
>Have the Columba Dei skirmish with the enemy escorts while the Iuvenis picks up survivors from the Shining Scourge. Assuming the Perdition's Ferry succeeds in its task we'll either turn on the two cruisers that attempted to flank the now destroyed grand cruiser while they are out of position unable to assist one another with the hulks of the two destroyed grand cruisers between them or we'll retreat in good order should it seem like we are being overwhelmed.

We have to deal some damage back. Even if we were to fall back we would still need to get out of this situation while they are maneuvering on us. Best to destroy their grand cruiser and leave their two flanking cruiser vulnerable to us, get something out of this mess before we retreat. We'll lose our grand cruiser, but it was stolen anyways and at least we'll deprive them of theirs instead of simply losing ours for nothing. (I assume that they are likely to succeed in destroying it next turn anyways.)
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Seconded >>5569981
Rolled 9, 8 = 17 (2d10)


+ 2 Princess Points

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Marie leaps from her seat. She has no time. The Scourge may break up or explode at any moment. "Felton! Ram the grand cruiser with the Ferry!"

To his credit, the Chapter Master obeys his sovereign with no time spent on pleasantries or compliments. "For the Princess!" he shouts, as his company of Space Marines joins him. Marie is still standing and her knuckles whiten as she grips the railing more tightly. On the voxscreen the Perdition's Ferry starts to turn and drive its prow toward the side of the pirate grand cruiser.

The pirates let out a broadside that lights up the void but the battered profile of the Ferry drives through the firecloud and straight into their belly.

Flames erupt like gouts of blood all along the fracture. Like retribution, the Columba Dei shakes with the impact of heavy weapons fire.


Dara's finger skips across the dark glass of her control panel and the Space Marine commanding the Iuvenis appears before the princess. "Your maj..."

"Get the Iuvenis to the Scourge at once and rescue as many as you can!" Marie glances at Dara before Crastus can reply. "Attack the rear cruisers in sequence! We need to draw their fire away from the Scourge!"

Dara nods as both hands float around the glass panel. "Yes, your maj..."

"Valorus! Attack the two lead cruisers before they can come about!" Dara's control panel chirps a warning, and the princess is nearly thrown from her seat by the force of another volley.

In the heat of battle, Marie's plan is admirably crafted, but even deprived of their flagship the pirate fleet still outnumbers her own and the Iuvenis quickly comes under attack. Crastus and his crew struggle to defend the yacht while taking on the Scourge's remaining crew. The vox is filled with shouts and screams.

Lauronum has approached Marie's side while her attention is on the bridge's screen. "The Iuvenis won't be able to sustain much more damage. They won't be able to transfer the crew before it's destroyed."

Dara's control panel chirps again. Marie tosses her head up, wide-eyed. She knows the sound well by now.

Another ship is approaching.
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The void is breached by a slit that quickly grows to a gaping wound and from out of the Warp appears a ship so large it dwarfs the grand cruisers.

"Lady Violette!"

The Rogue Trader lets her gaze drift to one side. "I can't have you introduce me to Valorus Hansteen if the both of you are dead, now can I?"

Marie slowly eases herself back into her chair, and watches as the Savoir begins to methodically strike down the pirate cruisers beginning with the one off the bow of the Columba Dei. The pirate fleet is immediately thrown in disarray by the battleship-sized vessel conjured in their midst.

"Your majesty?" Dara is looking at Marie. The princess tilts her head but doesn't move her gaze from the voxscreen.

"Target the escorts and attack shuttles. None must escape."

When the battle has ended, two of the pirate cruisers and one of their escorts have been destroyed outright. The rest are crippled, save but one cruiser that managed to slip past the Ecumenical Blade and into the Contritum. The crews of the crippled ships have all surrendered.

"Beg pardon, yer majesty." Kess has docked his attack shuttle in the Columba Dei and joined Marie on the bridge. "They won't get far in the state Lady Engel left 'em in. I've got two squads getting the shuttle patched up. We'll start searching as soon as it's voidworthy."

"Very good, Captain. I'm glad to have you back at my side." Marie realizes she's smiling.

"What now?"

"I have a banquet to attend."

Lady Violette has insisted on playing host to a victory celebration aboard the Savoir. "Princess Sigusmundus!" squeals Violette as Marie descends from the shuttle ramp. "I'm so glad you were able to convince Valorus to come with!" The Rogue Trader takes the Space Marine's arm in both hands. "Come! I must show you my divestium!"

Valorus looks back at Marie with a sheepish grin as the young woman leads him away.
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With the pirate fleet defeated, Scoria and Scalprum are now both under Marie's control. Her Dominion increases to 18.

In the days that follow, a second pirate base is discovered in the Contritum. Like the first, it carries no ships, but offers a foothold.

Three days after returning from the Savoir, Marie receives a vox from the Sutura-General of Rust.

"Your majesty." The electric ghoul on the voxscreen nods his skull. "I congratulate you on your victory."

"Thank you, Sutura-General. And thank you for the lovely ship. Your payment will be delivered shortly."

The ghoul nods again. "Of that I have no doubt, but I am afraid I must call on your compassion, Princess Sigismundus." Marie remains impassive. The Sutura-General nods again. "The cruiser which escaped your forces... it has crashed against Rust. I must plead for your aid. We are not armed to deal with such men."

>Deliver his thousand traitors and your condolences
>Offer to remove the pirates in exchange for his fealty
>Conquer Rust and establish a penal garrison
>Offer to remove the pirates in exchange for his fealty

This would go over easier if he willingly came into the fold. A pile of spacehulks is easier managed by those that know them. They de facto would have some degree of autonomy anyways, we can both benefit if they swear allegiance to us. Plus, we don't want them being conquered and then being a thorn in our side with occasional pirate raids from reactivated ships.
>Offer to remove the pirates in exchange for his fealty
>>Conquer Rust and establish a penal garrison
>>Offer to remove the pirates in exchange for his fealty
>Conquer Rust and establish a penal garrison
Rolled 3, 7 = 10 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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After a moment, Marie nods. "I will rid you of the pirates, Sutura-General."

"And in return?"

Marie leans back in her chair on the deck of the Columba Dei. "All I will ask in return is that you kneel and pledge your fealty to me."

The electric ghoul nods his skull once more. "The people of Rust will be honored to receive you as their sovereign."

"Good," Marie says. The voxscreen darkens and she glances at Dara. "I will be taking a shuttle to the stronghold."

"Princess Sigismundus! I am honored by your presence."

Marie smiles as she enters the stronghold library and sees Chapter Master Felton. "Hello, Felton. The last ship of the pirate fleet is beached upon Rust. It seems they are causing a disturbance for the Sutura-General and his people." The princess glances upward at the ceiling. "Is your brother still aboard the Savoir?"

"Valorus has been spending a good deal of time with Lady Violette." Felton grins. "Ah, young love! When I think of my little brother, I can't help but think of myself in the presence of y..."

"I have need of your Eternal Swords, Chapter Master. They will join my guardsmen. Rust will be brought under the Pax Imperium, one way or another."

Valorus is recalled from the Savoir and Marie's forces are soon dispatched toward Rust. Satisfied with the capability of the Columba Dei's shields to breach the cloud of metal shards enveloping Rust, Princess Marie orders her prize down alongside them, with a thousand damned men from the battle of Scoria packed into the hold.

Marie expects a quick battle.

She is wrong.

Some of the Eruditans escaped the purge of the Columba Dei, and the speaking xenos worms have joined rank with the pirates. The battle is long and bloody and when the pirates are at last dealt with, at least one of the xenos has escaped the Space Marines and scuttled away into the caverns of Rust.

"Burn them," Marie orders as she looks away from the pile of xenos corpses and walks toward the ramp of the Columba Dei. When she reaches the bridge Marie orders Dara to move their position.

Lauronum looks over at Marie. "Where are we going?"

"It is time for me to be received by the Sutura-General."

The ceremony is brief. Marie and a company of her Space Marines are brought atop a platform in the center of a narrow hangar and presented to the forty or so stick-people in attendance and when the Sutura-General has knelt before Princess Marie and risen with the help of his daughter Helina, the two walk from the hangar. Marie speaks without turning her head toward the electric ghoul.

"I may install a penal garrison if I feel it's required to maintain the Pax Imperium."
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Marie now controls the space hulk Rust. Her Dominion increases to 20, and her Reputation increases to 6.

She can't wait to be away from the radiation-soaked space hulk. When the princess returns to the Columba Dei, she orders it out into the void. "And contact my palace for a report on Bastius."

Dara glances at Lauronum. The tech-priest rolls her eyes and stands up from her chair.

"Marie!" Kitty is ecstatic when she receives the transmission. "Oh, I'm so glad to have heard from you! I hope you're coming home soon! The palace just isn't the same without you around. Don't worry about Bastius, everything is fine here. We've been getting regular transport ships now that they don't have to worry about pirates. I saw Sister Elzibeth last week. She asked about you, of course. That reminds me, you didn't tell me how things are going between you and Valorus! I hope you have lots to tell me when you get back!"

Dara glances at Lauronum and whispers. "Is she always so... informative?"

"No. Sometimes she's asleep."

"Your majesty?" Dara leans back away from Lauronum. "Now that the pirate fleet has been defeated, have you thought about letting me take the Columba Dei to the neighboring system? If there's any trace of the Union it might be there."

"I have," Marie says, "but I don't know if I want to deal with Inquisitor Richter on Feltrov, especially with the shape my fleet is in." The princess looks toward Lauronum. "What I really need are more ships, or more tech-priests."

"The Magos of this sector is based on Glazen." Lauronum's gaze tilts toward Marie. "It's only two systems from here. He might be able to help."

>Command the Columba Dei toward Feltrov
>Command the Columba Dei toward Glazen
>Have a serious talk with Dara to impart on her the degree of grimness of the darkness of the far future. Tell her who and what to fear.
>Then feed her cake to offset the mental trauma.
>Command the Columba Dei toward Glazen
>>Command the Columba Dei toward Glazen
>Command the Columba Dei toward Glazen
Rolled 9, 6 = 15 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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"Your majesty." Exasperation has crept into Dara's voice, and when she looks at Lauronum for support the tech-priest gives her a flat silent gaze. The woman in yellow looks back at Marie and raises her hands from the control panel. "It's just a little jaunt. This ship was made for much longer voyages. With the antiproton drive fully operational, there's no danger. We can be there and back in..."

"No danger?" Marie is out of her chair and at the control panel before Dara can respond. "Traveling through the Warp is always dangerous, no matter how short the journey. If not for the currents, there are worse things. Daemons. Perhaps even more."


"Creatures of the Warp." Lauronum finally sees fit to speak. "They're attracted to humans. Daemons often try to attack ships that are traveling through the Warp."

"You're referring to sub-dimensional entities?"

Marie frowns. "Speak Gothic."

"Sub-dimensional entities! Self-aware energy patterns hypothesized to exist within another fold of reality." Dara looks at Lauronum. "You mean they're real?"

"Yes. Their existence is well documented."

"Then surely they can be communicated with, reasoned with..."

"No." Marie says it with such flat vehemence that Dara looks at the princess in surprise. "Daemons cannot be reasoned with. It's said that even thinking about them is dangerous."


"Dara." Marie takes the other woman's hand. It is a gesture that Marie has learned their two cultures have in common. "It's also said that long ago, humans were ignorant of the dangers beyond Holy Terra." Dara opens her mouth to speak and Princess Marie continues. "I also have more worldly concerns. Some people may consider you an aberration in the face of the Imperial Cult. Feltrov is the domain of an Inquisitor, and he would like nothing more than to discover a threat against the Imperium. Real or supposed."

"Does that mean we're going to Glazen?" asks Lauronum.

"Yes," agrees Marie. "My fleet is half-broken. There aren't enough repair crews in this system to service them all at once. Provision-Master Pluvius estimates it will take nearly six months to complete the task." Marie's attention shifts from Lauronum to Dara. "But before then, I think you would do well with a bit of shore leave. You've been aboard this ship for far too long."


"Lady Violette had some more cakes sent to the stronghold of the Eternal Swords. I'm sure there are still some left untouched." Marie smiles at Lauronum. "Enough for all of us."
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Marie grants Dara two days of leave before summoning her available retinue. "You have cartographical displays for the system?"

"Of course." Lauronum connects a cable from her head to the stronghold computer.

Marie leans closer to the projection. "Are those..."

"Twin suns." The others glance at Dara. "I remember hearing about them."

"What of that one?"

"Gouge is an empty world." Lauronum continues when Marie glances away from the projection. "It was used to test weapons. Now it's just a dumping ground."

"What is the Magos' name? I hope I'm not forgetting anything." Once again, Marie wishes Kitty was by her side.

"Magos Calibrator Delta Veth."

"Does the title signify anything?"

Lauronum gives a slight shake of her head. "You won't have to talk about it."

"Beg pardon, yer majesty. This new ship of yers, there's no telling what might happen if you take it into the Warp." Kess doesn't need to remind Marie of their journey to this system in the Iuvenis.

"There's no gain without risk," says Marie. "The Columba Dei will have to be taken into the Warp sooner or later. Appearing before the Magos in such a vessel will do much to inspire his loyalty. Assemble a squad of guardsmen. It's time for my prize to prove itself."

The Columba Dei exceeds Marie's hope. Travel through the Warp is smooth and though she can hardly sleep from memory of her last voyage, Marie soon finds herself above Glazen.

The world is well-named. Its surface has been scoured by heat to a glassy smoothness and glares like a star. Manufactorums are clustered across the surface like metal tumors.

Dara's control panel begins to chirp. She looks down twice and pecks the dark glass for a moment before looking up in confusion. "We're... being scanned?"

"You've been cleared to approach," Lauronum announces.

Marie sits up from her chair on the bridge of the Columba Dei. "Prepare my shuttle."
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The tech-priest directs them toward a hangar, and when they disembark from the guardsman attack shuttle the heat assails them even in the dimly lit bay.

Magos Calibrator Delta Veth is waiting at the bottom of the ramp.

"Princess of Bastius. Age, sixteen years, twenty-two weeks. I expect this tech-priest is functioning to your satisfaction."

"Magos Calibrator Veth." Marie overcomes the urge to glance at Lauronum and grin. Instead she nods at the Magos. "Tech-priest Lauronum is indeed... functioning to my satisfaction. I am thankful to you for her presence."

"We have prepared more food than you require, in order to facilitate discussion of the ship in which you arrived." The Magos shifts his posture and gestures inward toward the hangar wall.

"That is very well," Marie says as she walks alongside Magos Veth with Kess and her guardsmen in tow. Lauronum has fallen in behind the Magos.

The food is abundant but marred by the same bitter taste that seems to permeate everything here. "I expect the food is satisfactory." The Magos has not eaten. "What is the name of your ship?"

"The Columba Dei." Marie dabs her lips with a cloth. She has not eaten much.

"Where did you acquire the Columba Dei?"

"There's a space hulk past the edge of the Contritum. I have come to an understanding with the people living inside it."

"I expect you will wish me to permanently assign a unit of tech-priests to this space hulk."

Marie has raised a glass of water to her lips to wash the taste of the food, but when her nose is held close to the fumes on the surface she thinks better of it. "Pardon?"

"Once they are in place, they will be able to offer their oversight while you repair your fleet. There may also be other serviceable ships hidden within the space hulk."

>Allow Magos Calibrator Veth to place tech-priests on Rust
>Travel to Feltrov and consult Inquisitor Richter on the matter
>Return to Bastius with half your fleet to speed their repairs
>Allow Magos Calibrator Veth to place tech-priests on Rust
>>Travel to Feltrov and consult Inquisitor Richter on the matter
>Allow Magos Calibrator Veth to place tech-priests on Rust
>Allow Magos Calibrator Veth to place tech-priests on Rust
>Travel to Feltrov and consult Inquisitor Richter on the matter
Rolled 9, 4 = 13 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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Marie places the glass back on the table. "I can see how such an arrangement would be of benefit. I would be happy for your expertise in examining Rust, Magos Veth."

"You are unconcerned about the possibility of Inquisitor Erdred Richter perceiving this as an encroachment by the Cult Mechanicus." Marie glances at Lauronum and smiles inwardly. The Magos is just as direct as her own tech-priest.

"The thought of what Inquisitor Richter might say had crossed my mind."

"Inquisitor Richter is right to believe there is a conspiracy against the Imperium, but I am not a part of it."

"A conspiracy?" Marie sets down her unused fork.

"The lords of Multa and Feltrov will not easily give up their fiefdoms."

Marie is about to ask the Magos what he means, when she sees three more tech-priests hurry into the room. All of them are nearly completely mechanical from what Marie can see. The tallest has a tentacle-arm that he wrings with anticipation as he approaches the Magos.

Magos Veth gestures at the tech-priest. "This is Rho-9. He will lead the examination of Rust. That is Phi 1-Hauss, and Cassius Gamma-7."

"Very eager to begin examining space hulk," says a voice that comes from the direction of Rho-9.

"Magos Calibrator, I must remind you that my primary concern is the speedy restoration of my fleet to ready status."

"Yes yes of course," Rho-9 agrees. "Full attention given."

The Magos turns back toward Marie. "Princess of Bastius, I invite you to accompany me on a tour of Gouge. I expect you may find something of value there."

"Your weapons-world? Yes, of course. We will be happy to accompany you."

"For matters of security, only you will be able to attend."

Captain Kess speaks for the first time since the meal has begun. "Beg pardon, yer majesty..."

"It's alright," Marie says to Kess, and looks across the table at the Magos. "I will abide your request, Magos Calibrator."

"The tour will be conducted in the morning. We have provided beds for you. I expect you will wish to rest after your voyage here."

The beds, though soft, are infused with the same bitter fume that permeates everything else in the manufactorum.
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When Marie is escorted from her quarters to the shuttle hangar, she is surprised to see only the Magos waiting for her. The other tech-priest turns and leaves without a word, and as the ramp begins to descend Magos Veth gestures toward the shuttle.

"I wasn't expecting such a personal touch." Marie has waited to say anything until they've broken atmosphere.

"It was necessary to speak with you under these conditions. I fear there are spies even on Glazen." Magos Veth doesn't return Marie's glance.

"Surely we could have arranged for you to board the Columba Dei without breaking orbit and going through all this..."

"There is something you must be shown."

Ahead of them is Gouge. Magos Veth takes his shuttle in low over the cratered plains. The shadow of their craft flits over piles of scrap the size of cities until they come to a series of mountain ranges made by some explosive force.

"It is good that Lauronum 15 Tragius has met your expectations, Princess of Bastius." Magos Veth turns toward Marie and the princess glances from the unattended controls to the windscreen as the shuttle continues to maneuver over the range.

Marie looks at the Magos. "I should think every tech-priest you produce is as high of quality."

"That is not so," says Magos Veth. "I once had another initiate such as Lauronum 15 Tragius. That one began to defy commands, and to overwrite the programming of her own blessed machinery. She escaped and fled to Gouge."

"Is she still here?"

"When she was discovered on Gouge, it was also discovered that she had constructed a device capable of fracturing the planet."

"You're speaking of exterminatus." Marie's face has filled with concern.

"No," corrects the Magos. "Exterminatus requires many battleships. This device can fit in the hold of an escort. It is scarcely larger than this shuttle."

"Where is she now?"

"She was able to escape a second time," says the Magos. The shuttle has slowed. "We dared not try to move the device. It was far too unstable. We left it here."

The shuttle has landed in the center of an enormous crater plain strewn with bent metal. Marie leans forward in her seat. "Where is it?"

"The device was discovered missing the day before you arrived on Glazen. Only a few of my closest nodes have been made aware. I am informing you because these dangers concern us both."

>Travel to Feltrov and speak with Inquisitor Richter
>Return to Scoria and ask Violette to introduce you to the lords
>Return to Scoria and ask Violette to introduce you to the lords

We were anxious about dealing with Richter until our fleet was repaired. Plus we may need to integrate our newly conquered domains.
>Return to Scoria and ask Violette to introduce you to the lords
>>Travel to Feltrov and speak with Inquisitor Richter
>>Return to Scoria and ask Violette to introduce you to the lords
Rolled 7, 6 = 13 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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Princess Marie is silent during the voyage back toward the twin suns and Glazen.

When they have landed inside the relative cool of the manufactorum, she finds Captain Kess waiting for her along with Lauronum and Rho-9 at the bottom of the shuttle ramp. "Beg pardon, yer majesty." Kess glances at Rho-9. "The tech-priests have readied their escort to break orbit, but this one..."

"Will board Columba Dei to examine firsthand." Rho-9 moves past Lauronum when Marie speaks.

"I already have a tech-priest assigned to the Columba Dei." Marie glances at Lauronum and smiles. "That is all I require."

"But rank order requires..."

"You will obey the Princess of Bastius," says Magos Veth. "Board the Iron Reach and join the others."

Rho-9 looks from the Magos to Lauronum and back. "Rank order will be... superseded."

"Have you readied our own shuttle for departure, Captain?"

"Thought we might be leaving soon. Everyone's packed up," nods Kess.

"Good. Prepare to launch. We will dock with the Iuvenis and return to Scoria immediately."

When Marie returns to the Iuvenis with Lauronum and the guardsmen, Dara lurches to her feet.

Kess catches Dara as she sways. "Were you on the bridge the whole time we were gone?"

"I couldn't sleep," Dara says and runs her hand along the side of her neck. "I don't like being alone on this ship."

Marie looks around as she resumes her place in the captain's chair. "I don't blame you. And I don't like having to hide you, either. Take us back to Scoria, please."

The princess is glad to leave Glazen behind her, but the Magos's words will not leave her for the entire voyage through the Warp and when they have again landed on Scoria Marie is almost glad to find Lady Violette chatting with Valorus in the stronghold armory. Valorus looks up at Marie with a mixture of welcome relief. "Princess Sigismundus! Were you successful?"

"The Magos of Glazen has assigned a team of tech-priests to oversee repairs to the fleet and to begin excavating Rust. Their ship will arrive before long." Marie turns to the Rogue Trader and tilts her head in a smile. "Lady Violette! I was hoping to find you."

"Oh?" Violette's own smile turns mischievous. "What sort of adventure do you have planned?"

"I need to... meet some lords."
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Valorus glances down at Princess Marie and her own gaze quickly flits between his and Violette's.

"That is, the Lords of Feltrov and Multa. The Magos told me they would resent my having rulership over them. I thought that if I was able to speak with them, I might..."

"You can't just MEET the Lords." Violette raises one eyebrow. "They won't see you."

"But I'm the princess!" exclaims Marie.

"The princess of three backwater worlds," says Violette, and as Marie frowns and opens her mouth to speak the Rogue Trader adds, "And only just barely. You won't be able to meet them. They simply won't see you."

Marie looks away for a moment and back at Violette. "Will you help me?"

"Of course," Violette grins. "After all, what are friends for? First we need to get your fleet back in service. You said you had some more tech-priests?"

"Yes, I..."

"Oh, by the way," Lady Violette grins at Marie. "I noticed a new work of art being painted in the stronghold library."

"What?" Marie quickly walks toward the library and a moment later emerges out into the hallway just as Violette catches up to her. "Who..."

"Chapter Master Hansteen," Violette says. The Rogue Trader's grin has yet to subside.


"Do you like it, Princess Sigismundus?" Felton has appeared at the summon. "I had it commissioned after the banquet aboard the Savoir." The Chapter Master nods at Lady Violette and then turns his gaze toward Marie.

"It's... very flattering. What is that crown?"

"The common people of Scoria and Scalprum call it the Victory Crown. Felton gestures at the painting. "I thought it would help them see you as their unifying leader."

Marie smiles. "You have a very strategic mind, Chapter Master. I'm impressed."

"Then you like it?"

"Yes, I do."

Marie's new tech-priests arrive the following day, and place the Iron Reach in the center of the orbital repair docks. Under their unblinking gaze, the fleet begins to take shape once more.

"Hrm...remarkable," says Provision-Master Pluvius as he reviews his dataslate for Marie in the stronghold library. "They've managed to cut the repair time almost in half." Pluvius squints at the dataslate.

"What of my fleet?"

"Hrm..." Pluvius looks up from his dataslate. "I can't see anything wrong with any of these ships."

Marie turns her head toward Lady Violette. "What must I do now?"

Violette smiles and leans close to Marie. "Now you must show the Lords YOU are the ruler of the Questarai Thread," she whispers.


"Seize one of their vassal worlds for your own."

>Lead a crusade toward Feltrov in the system past Scoria
>Lead a crusade toward Multa in the system past Glazen
>Lead a crusade toward Feltrov in the system past Scoria

It's time.
>>Lead a crusade toward Multa in the system past Glazen
>>Lead a crusade toward Feltrov in the system past Scoria
>Lead a crusade toward Multa in the system past Glazen
I don't want a possible conflict with the Inquisitor
>>Lead a crusade toward Multa in the system past Glazen
Rolled 4, 7 = 11 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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Princess Marie leans back in her chair. The thought of Inquisitor Richter is still close. "I will make my introduction to the Lord of Multa."

"Wonderful." Lady Violette clasps her hands and pulls them to her breast.

"We can't leap in blind." Marie looks at the Chapter Master. "Felton, assemble a squad of your Eternal Swords and send them toward Multa in one of the pirate escorts. I want to know what to expect."

"It shall be done, my princess. He will be overwhelmed by the power of your fleet, and the beauty of your presence."

Marie gives Felton a brief smile and turns back toward Violette. "Do you have cartographical displays for the system?"

"Of course," nods the Rogue Trader. "I'll have my vox-man transmit it at once."

"I'll begin preparation," Felton says, and stands from the table.

Lady Violette watches Felton cross the room and when the Chapter Master is out of sight she leans close to Marie. "So, how are things going with you and Felton? I think Valorus might ask me for my hand in marriage!"

"Ask you to..."

Princess Marie quickly closes her mouth as Valorus walks into the library. "I heard you were planning a crusade!"

"Valorus!" squeals Lady Violette. "Come sit, we're just receiving the display now."

Marie glances at Valorus as he sits between them. A moment later, a holographic map of Multa and the surrounding worlds springs into the air.

"Seges and Villam are both agri-worlds." Violette waves a hand dismissively. "Simple peasants, easily commanded. The real power is who controls the food exported from those worlds."

"Will you be commanding a ship of your own, or will you be aboard the Columba Dei?" asks Marie.

Valorus crosses his arms and looks at the library door. "I will be commanding the defense force above Scoria during this crusade."

Lady Violette slips her arm around his. "I'll join you!"
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The detachment of Space Marines has arrived on Seges, and they have found a world of unending grief.

"They've taken almost all the young men and boys, sir!" The peasants of this world were quick to fear the Eternal Swords, but the Space Marines are welcomed into a hovel just as quickly when it becomes known they intend to oppose the Lord of Multa.

"Aye," says the woman's husband. "At first it was just the oldest sons, but then a year later the soldiers came for more young men, then the ones who were barely men at all!"

"A month ago they came and took all the boys who'd seen their tenth year. Oh, my little Mortem!" The woman buries her face in her hands and sobs. "I can't bear to think what's happened to him!"

"Now, Farah, I'm sure these Space Marines don't have time to listen to you crying." At this the woman looks from her husband to the Eternal Swords and begins to wail.

"Please, sir, can't you help us?" The young woman looks up at the Space Marine and tears are welling in her own eyes. "I'll do anything to get my betrothed back!"

"Now, Rachell, I'm sure these Space Marines have more important things to do than bring back that Leif boy!"

>Blockade Seges and wait for the Lords to respond
>Arm the locals and press on to Villam
>Attack the fleet of the Lords above Multa
>Arm the locals and PRETEND to press on to Villam. Instead hide around Seges and wait to ambush the punishing force.
Space Marines enjoy much larger advantage over normal humans on the ground than in space.
Support >>5579893
Seems pretty good.
Rolled 2, 9 = 11 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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"I received your vox, Crastus. Prepare a trap and use the peasants of Seges as bait." Marie leans in toward the lens. "Arm them for revolution and make the Lord of Multa believe you've left them unorganized and vulnerable."

When darkness overtakes the hovel, Crastus orders the rest of the Space Marines aboard the pirate cruiser down in shuttles.

"Is there somewhere we can hide these?" Crastus asks.

"Aye," the man says, and points beyond a stack of bales. "The barns are empty right now."

The commandeered pirate cruiser has a skeleton crew as it circles wide around the orbit of the inner worlds on a languid path toward Villam.

From out of Multa's moon Seneca comes a hidden armada as four cruisers emerge. Two of the cruisers remain above Multa. The other cruisers speed in the direction of Crastus's feint and intercept them between Seges and Villam.

The damage inflicted on the pirate cruiser is all too convincing and Marie's skeleton crew is barely able to escape into the Warp.

It is eight days after the pirate cruiser has disappeared when the first soldiers on Seges are killed by peasants armed with lasrifles.

One of the cruisers from beneath Seneca is dispatched toward the agri-world. The soldiers aboard it expect untrained rabble. They expect to publicly execute the rebel leaders and order the rest back to work.

Their vox transmissions cease almost as soon as they make planetfall.

Two more battalions are sent down before their commanders begin to understand what is happening. The Lord of Multa has no wish to turn his own productive farmland to cratered ash, and so must send more men to the surface of Seges. The fields are eager to accept their bodies.

"Space Marines! They came out of nowhere! Send reinfor..."

The vox-operator collapses to the fertile soil with the bolter casing still steaming next to him.

"Better tell Crastus." The Space Marine standing over the corpse removes his disguise and looks up at the sky. "Now we've got a real fight on our hands."
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The siege of Seges has begun.

With no way to quickly drive the Space Marines from Seges, the Lord of Multa sends two cruisers out of Seneca and across the void. Two more cruisers remain above Multa.

"I hope this vox gets through." An explosive detonates near his position and Crastus reaches out to adjust the voxspeaker lens back toward him. "Chapter Master, if you can hear me, we could use reinforcements."

The Lord of Multa throws the sons of Seges at them. Over the next five days shuttles packed with soldiers continue to pour from Multa. Crastus and his men are driven back, and back again, nearly to the barns where their attack shuttles were once hidden. The morale among the peasants has fallen and many are dead or defectors.

It is a week before the Warp opens again and the Ecumenical Blade forces its way through the wound with Chapter Master Felton Hansteen in command. Behind it the Columba Dei and three more commandeered pirate cruisers emerge, and between those a pair of escorts.

With four cruisers in each fleet, the Columba Dei and the pair of escorts tips the balance and Marie's fleet has the advantage of size, but only for the moment.

Another two cruisers emerge from Seneca, and behind them a heavy cruiser that seems half the size of the moon which births it. They join the two cruisers already in orbit above Multa.

>Order your ships to attack the two cruisers above Seges
>Allow the two cruisers above Seges to return to Multa
>>Order your ships to attack the two cruisers above Seges
>Order your ships to attack the two cruisers above Seges
Defeat in detail.
>And aim to board them, not destroy them.
>>Order your ships to attack the two cruisers above Seges
Rolled 3, 8 = 11 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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Marie leans forward in her seat. The Columba Dei is the flagship of her fleet and it is the first to meet the cruisers of Multa. "All ships, move in. I want those cruisers, Felton!"

"Your wish, Princess Sigismundus." Chapter Master Felton smiles at Marie from the bridge's voxscreen and glances past the view of the lens. "You heard our most beautiful sovereign, men!"

The Ecumenical Blade moves alongside the Columba Dei and both ships loose their salvos as they meet the oncoming fire from the ships of Multa.

Felton's press-gangs recruited from Scoria and Scalprum have been tested in battle, but not against well-trained and well-funded opponents like they now face. Hindered by the need to board the enemy cruisers rather than destroy them outright, their shots are underpowered, aimed at quenching broadside cannons without destroying the hulls.

The enemy ships are under no compulsion. Dara screams in startled fright as a panel explodes near her control console. Marie grips the railing in front of her as the Columba Dei lurches aft. "Move in closer! Target their battery!"

"I'm doing the best I can!" snaps Dara, and when Marie throws her a look of ire the woman in yellow adds, "Your majesty." Marie looks back at the voxscreen. She can't blame Dara for feeling overworked.

Marie's fleet can surround the cruisers but they keep a distance as one of the beleaguered ships, critically damaged, begins a suicide charge. For a moment Marie thinks it may actually strike the Columba Dei but her helmsman Dara swings the ship just out of its path. The broken cruiser hits atmosphere as it falls.

Below, on Seges, three peasants pause in their night labor to look up at the light in the sky as it blazes toward them.

"What d'ya spoze that is? Lightnin'?"

"Looks like a shootin' star!"

"Naw, it's a..."

The ships above Multa speed toward Marie's fleet, and almost before her ships can be brought about the battle has resumed. The Lord of Multa keeps his fleet at the extreme range of their guns.

Even with her newly-captured cruiser Marie's forces are outmatched and in the two skirmishes against Multa's fleet that follow, Marie's own fleet can barely hold Seges.

The Lord of Multa is fighting a home battle with a steady stream of reinforcements and supplies.
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The battle has begun to wear on them.

Midway through the second day since Marie has last dared to sleep, the Columba Dei receives an emergency vox routed from the stronghold on Scoria. The princess is tired but her head snaps up as she sees the faces of Kitty and Sister Elzibeth on the voxscreen. "Marie! You..." On the screen, Kitty looks toward Elzibeth in near-panic.

Sister Elzibeth turns toward the screen. "A pair of cruisers have positioned themselves above Glint." When Marie hears this she glances at Dara and the woman raises her hands in a guiltless gesture. Marie's fleet has been monitoring the traffic around Seneca and Multa.

The cruisers came from somewhere else.

"From where they're positioned they have a strategic advantage against any attack shuttles from the Order of the Martyred Virgin sent their way." Marie's attention is drawn back toward Elzibeth's image on the voxscreen. "We tried."

"They're also blocking all the traffic in and out of the system!" Kitty presses her way in front of the lens. "Oh, Marie, you must do something about this! The people are starting to say the most awful things about you!"

"Status, Dara?"

The woman in yellow pecks at her control panel with one finger and glances toward Marie. "The other fleet is holding position past weapons range."

Marie leans back in her chair. She can't afford to divert any of the cruisers currently blockading Seges. The only ships she has in reserve are the two cruisers and the escort left as the defense fleet above Scoria, and her personal escort-sized yacht the Iuvenis.

Princess Marie no longer controls the moon of Glint. Her Dominion decreases to 18, and her Reputation decreases to 5.

>Divert one of the cruisers and escorts above Scoria to Glint
>Divert both of the cruisers and escorts above Scoria to Glint
>Divert them all to Seges and allow the blockade of Glint to continue
>Divert one of the cruisers and half the escorts above Scoria to Glint and the other half to Seges to aid in the decisive battle. Make sure the Martyred Virgin's attack shuttles are ready to strike when the cruiser arrives, they can likely only win by synergizing.
>Retreat from Multa and crush the fucker above Glint with full force.
>>Divert both of the cruisers and escorts above Scoria to Glint
>Divert both of the cruisers and escorts above Scoria to Glint
Rolled 8, 5 = 13 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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Marie stares at the voxscreen for a moment and wishes the transmission between systems was two-way. She shakes her head and looks at Lauronum. "Send a vox transmission to Valorus on Scoria. Order the entire defensive fleet toward Bastius to engage the cruisers above Glint." Marie pauses. "Tell him to transmit a vox to Bastius. Sister Elzibeth and her order are to be ready to strike the moment the Eternal Swords arrive in the system."

Lauronum nods. "Anything else?" Marie has no doubt her tech-priest has the entire conversation memorized.

"No. I'll be in my quarters."

The princess is given only four hours of restless sleep before she is awakened as another skirmish begins. "I'm sorry, your majesty, you gave orders to wake you if..."

"Yes, Guardsman."

"It's the battlecruiser, your majesty."

Marie rushes past the guardsman toward the bridge. She can hear the warning chimes as she approaches. Dara glances up from pecking her finger against the black glass of the control panel when Marie enters. "It's the big one. The heavy cruiser."

"Tighten formation," Marie says as she grabs the back of her chair and eases into it. "Perimeter ships, move to intercept any cruisers that try to engage the fleet. I want all fire concentrated on the heavy cruiser. Force it to keep a distance."

The control panel chirps a warning and Dara confirms its outburst. "Heavy cruiser moving to take a broadside position. Incoming fire."

Marie sways as the bridge of the Columba Dei shakes with the impact.

"Return fire as soon as it's in range!"

Her men fight valiantly and competently, but they have been in battle for two days. The fleet of Multa seems intent on a strategy of wearing them down with near-constant skirmishes.

The bridge is filled with smoke when Dara glances up at the voxscreen. "It's working." Marie leans forward and watches as the heavy cruiser drifts back into the void until it's just beyond weapons range and allows herself a twinge of satisfaction as she sees a trail of smoke and fire following the behemoth.

"Observations, Captain?"

Kess watches the battlecruiser's image disappear from the screen entirely. "Feels like they're keeping us busy."
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Another two days pass and in them are three skirmishes but Marie's fleet has managed to hold a picket above the agri-world Seges.

In the early morning of the third day Marie is awakened to news of a vox transmission received from Bastius and she hurries to dress and view it on the bridge along with the others.

"Marie!" Kitty's image on the bridge voxscreen is ecstatic. "You'll never guess what happened! A ship of tech-priests arrived alongside the Eternal Swords! They..." Kitty flaps her hand. "Oh, I'm sure Sister Elzibeth is better to tell it."

"They said it was called the Iron Reach." Sister Elzibeth smiles. "We won, if you're curious. The enemy cruisers attempted to escape after the fight started to turn against them. One of their cruisers was crippled. It'll be a while before Bastius has a shipyard large enough to work on it. However..."

"Valorus captured the other cruiser all by himself!" squeals Kitty. "Not all by himself, of course, but he led the boarding party! Oh!" She clasps her hands to her breast.

Sister Elzibeth glances at Kitty and grins into the screen. "We just finished the interrogations before transmitting this vox. The tech-priests confirmed it with the cruiser's machine spirit. The cruisers came from the shipyard above Ygnir, in the Feltrov system."

Marie crosses her arms and frowns. If this was a plan to make her split the fleet or withdraw from the skies above Seges altogether, it almost worked. Her attention is drawn back to the voxscreen as Sister Elzibeth's image continues.

"We're sending two cruisers your way, but it's a long journey to Multa."

Kitty leans in closer to the lens. "Emperor's love! Come home as soon as you can!"

The voxscreen goes dark.

"Observations, Captain?"

Kess locks his hands behind his back. "If the Lord of Feltrov sent those cruisers to Glint, he might have more to send our way."

The moon of Glint is now controlled by Princess Marie. Her Dominion increase to 20 and her Reputation increases to 6.

>Engage the more powerful Multa fleet now
>Wait and hope your reinforcements arrive first
>Wait and hope your reinforcements arrive first

Hopefully they lick their wounds after realizing we are too tough to deal with. We'll strike when we are at full strength.
>>Engage the more powerful Multa fleet now
>Wait and hope your reinforcements arrive first
>>Wait and hope your reinforcements arrive first
Rolled 9, 4 = 13 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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Marie knows the vagaries of Warp travel. She knows her reinforcements may arrive far too late, or they might never arrive at all, lost forever to be preyed upon by the horrors of the Warp. Still she holds hope. She glances at Dara and sees the woman in yellow is looking at her. Awaiting her orders.

"Hold position." To Kess she says "If they mean to keep us waiting, we will indulge them. Order half-shifts with curfew for all crew, and double their rations. Keep them on high alert otherwise. We will hold as long as possible."

"Consider it done, yer majesty."

The princess looks at Lauronum and the tech-priest returns her gaze with the usual placidity. "Were you aware Rho-9 would assist me?"

"No, but I'm not surprised he had standing orders to do so. Magos Calibrator Veth would benefit if you brought order to the Thread."

"I didn't think he would be so generous. Dara," says Marie.

"Hmm?" Dara is leaning on the control panel and straightens when Marie addresses her, but when she sees the princess is smiling her face turns to confusion.

"I said half-shifts for all crew, yourself included. Go and get some sleep." Dara looks toward the bridge doorway and back at her control panel. Before she can ask, Marie voices her concern. "I'm sure Lauronum can operate it if you're away."

Dara is well-rested fourteen hours later when a cruiser suddenly breaks formation from the Multa fleet and heads toward them.

Captain Kess leaps to his feet. "Suicide charge!" We've got to..."

"Wait," Dara says, and quickly taps the dark glass in front of her. "They're transmitting a... vox."

The image of a man no older than Marie springs into view on the bridge voxscreen. "Please, don't shoot! We've taken control of the Law of Might! We want to help you!" An explosion shakes the screen and the young man flinches. Marie can hear confused shouting.

"Three more cruisers are breaking from the Multa fleet," Dara announces. "They're firing upon the first cruiser!"

"Beg pardon, yer majesty," says Captain Kess in a low voice. "It may be a ruse to get in close."

Marie leans back in her chair and looks at the young man. "What is your name?"

"Leif, my lady. If you can spare any officers, we could use their aid!"

"Leif? Betrothed of Rachell?"

The young man's face betrays his surprise. "My lady, how did you..."

"We can spare you some officers, crewman." Marie nods at Kess. "All ships, move to block pursuit. That cruiser is one of ours now."
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Her fleet is given a further eighteen hours before the enemy makes another move. She is just about to stand and stretch her legs when the control panel chirps its warning. Lauronum is attending the podium and begins to tap at the black glass with one finger when Dara rushes into the room.

"It's the heavy cruiser." Lauronum states it as though Dara asked for the weather on Seges. Dara pecks at the control and nods in agreement when she glances up at Marie.

"All crew to your stations." Marie finds herself standing once more. "Engage the battlecruiser."

Dara's control panel chirps again. "More ships incoming..."

The Warp splits open into the Materium and disgorges a pair of cruisers.

"We're receiving a vox," Dara says, and when the transmission appears on the bridge screen Marie feels a welling of relief.

"Princess Sigismundus," says Valorus. "The Shining Scourge is at your command."

"Get those cruisers off our backs," orders the princess as she eases herself back into her chair.

With the addition of Valorus's ship and the captured pirate cruiser, Marie's fleet begins to push the enemy fleet away from Seges. In the open void, Marie's fleet has the advantage of both numbers and maneuverability.

"They're beginning to move in the direction of the nearest planet," Dara says, and taps her control panel.

"Beg pardon, yer majesty, we can't let 'em get a toehold on Villam."

"I agree, Captain. Dara, move the Columba Dei to intercept the head of the Multa fleet. Felton, Valorus, bring your ships in to follow. We must force them to change course."

Marie's strategy is successful and the ships of Multa are forced away from Villam to take up a defensive position over Multa itself.

An unexpected windfall is received when a squad of Space Marines discovers a huge cache of supplies on Villam meant for the Multa fleet. Marie establishes a resupply line using her own attack shuttles to ferry it to the rest of her ships.

In less than a week, her fleet has been replenished, if not repaired.

Six days after Valorus arrived in the system, the Columba Dei receives a message. "There's no image," Dara says with a shake of her head. "No voice, either. Just a short message. 'Princess Marie of Bastius, it is urgent that you meet with me before sending your ships toward Multa.'"

Marie tilts her head at Dara. "That's it?"

"There are also coordinates." Dara pecks at the control panel with one finger. "For a planet in the system nearest this one."

"Fossa," says Captain Kess from next to Dara's podium. "The old capitol-world of the Questarai Thread. It's an unlucky system." He glances at Marie. "Beg pardon, yer majesty. I think this is just a distraction to buy time until they can get more reinforcements. We should strike now while we've got the advantage."

>Lead your fleet in battle against Multa's fleet
>Travel to Fossa and meet with the stranger
>Travel to Feltrov and consult with Inquisitor Richter
(Comment too long)

Princess Marie now controls the planet Seges and the planet Villam. Her Dominion increases to 26.
>Lead your fleet in battle against Multa's fleet

Probably the tech-priestess that stole that super weapon or whatever it was. Trying to destroy us before we become a hegemon. Alternatively she is trying to warn us that Multa stole the super weapon and is gonna use it on us to turn the tide, but if that is the case then she should've been more forthright, we can't trust her given she is demanding isolated meeting circumstances that dislocate us from the decisive battle as it is progress.
>Travel to Fossa and meet with the stranger
We have absolutely no reason to trust this transmission, but the genre meta says it's important.
>>Travel to Feltrov and consult with Inquisitor Richter
>Lead your fleet in battle against Multa's fleet

Get out holding secured.
>>Lead your fleet in battle against Multa's fleet
Rolled 4, 10 = 14 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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"I had the same thought." Marie's gaze turns to Dara as the princess settles back into her chair. "Ignore the transmission. Signal my fleet to assemble. We will engage the enemy immediately."

"Yes, your majesty," Dara says. Her finger pecks at the dark glass surface and it chirps agreeably.

"The Columba Dei will lead the attack. Ecumenical Blade, draw along my starboard side. Shining Scourge, on my port."

When Marie launches her ships, the Lord of Multa responds, bringing his full armada to bear and they quickly speed across the void toward Villam. Dara's control panel chirps out the warning. "Incoming ships." Even with the heavy cruiser to bolster their firepower, the Multa fleet has only six more cruisers to Marie's eight.

"Keep us in range of the battlecruiser." Marie grips the sides of her chair as the bridge shakes under the first salvo. "Beta wing, Delta wing, take position and keep the enemy cruisers at a distance."

Once again Marie proves herself an excellent strategist, and her fleet begins to press the enemy back into a near-retreat. "We can't get a good shot in with those ships positioned so close," says Valorus from the bridge of the Shining Scourge. "They've learned from our last fight."

"Keep at it." The princess glances from Valorus's image to her ship's pilot. "Take us in closer. It can't bring its full broadside without risking a hit to its own ships."

Dara's control panel suddenly begins to squawk. "Something is emerging out of the Warp!"

"On the voxscreen," demands Marie.

A second battlecruiser appears out of a wound in the void and spills from the Warp at the system's edge in a puff of otherworldly atmosphere.

Dara's control panel squawks again and she hunts for the right place to tap her finger. When she does she looks up at Marie with fright. "It's on an intercept course with us."

The intruder fires on Marie's fleet as her Delta wing comes about, and she can only watch on the bridge voxscreen as it lights up the void with cannonfire.

The tide of battle begins to turn against her.
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Caught by the battlecruiser emerging from the shadow of Villam, Delta wing is forced to split their fire between the newcomer and the enemy cruisers they were ordered to engage, and the enemy cruisers press their newfound advantage. As they position themselves closer, the battlecruiser's sight lines are no longer obstructed by their own force.

"Beta wing now also under heavy fire," announces Dara. The discordant chirping almost keeps time with her frantic taps. She looks up again at Marie. "Direct hit to the Shining Scourge."

An explosion accompanies Valorus's voice from the Scourge's bridge. "We can't keep this up much longer."

Marie grips her chair and Kess grips the railing as another hit shakes the Columba Dei.

"Orders, yer majesty?"

"Take us about, Dara. All ships, fix bearing off the second battlecruiser and try to get in a good shot as you pass. We'll regroup above Villam."

The Lord of Multa seems satisfied with the near-rout. The second battlecruiser moves alongside the first and follows the other ships into position just past Seneca's orbit.

Marie's own fleet is battered but whole. It is more than she can say for her own current fortune. An attack shuttle is sent down to the recently discovered supply cache intended for Multa's fleet, but her guardsmen report most of the remaining crates empty of anything but vermin.

The Columba Dei takes on the last of the looted cache

"The last of the cache is aboard," Dara announces.

"Good." Marie rises from her seat and crosses the bridge. "Tell Chapter Master Felton and his brother Valorus to join me in the war room."

"Yes, your majesty." Dara taps her control panel once more.

"Captain, you will join them, as will Lauronum and Dara."

Valorus is the first around the table to speak. "Perhaps the warning you received on that transmission was about this second battlecruiser."

His brother the Chapter Master leans in. "If this new battlecruiser is part of the Feltrov fleet, there may be more ships on the way."
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"Beg pardon, yer majesty." Kess waits until Marie nods. "We have to assume Chapter Master Hansteen is right. It's obvious the Lords are in on this together. Now that Valorus is here, almost our entire fleet is in this system. If I was the Lord of Feltrov, there's nowhere in the Questarai Thread I'd rather have my ships than right next to Multa's fleet, making sure they can keep us on the defensive."

"Lauronum, is it possible to determine the size of Feltrov's armada in some way?"

Her tech-priest doesn't hesitate to shake her head. "I don't have enough information on the Feltrov system to make a prediction like that. It's possible the two fleets are roughly equivalent in overall maintenance cost, or it may be that Feltrov has more heavy cruisers, or even battleships."

"Battleships?" Dara was surprised to be asked to join the war council, but the princess had insisted that she may be able to offer fresh insight.

"The greatest ships ever built by the Imperium, or anyone else." Kess looks across the table at the young woman in yellow and spreads his hands apart. "Three times the size of those heavy cruisers."

Dara leans back in her own chair, horrified. She does not speak again for the rest of the meeting.

"I trust your judgement in these matters, Chapter Master. What kind of strategy can you suggest in light of what is certain?" The princess glances between Captain Kess and the Space Marines. "And you as well, Captain."

"We can plan for several potential situations," says Felton with a nod.

It is several hours later and Marie can no longer stifle a yawn. Kess turns toward the princess and nods at the half-asleep Dara. "Beg pardon, yer majesty. You might as well get some sleep while you can."

"I believe you're right, Captain." Marie turns and looks at the exhausted woman in yellow. "Dara, you are relieved for the evening. Lauronum?"

The tech-priest glances up from her side conversation with Felton as the two examine a cartographical projection. "No, I'm fine."

Marie rises from the table. "Wake me at once if anything changes."

When the princess is awoken in her quarters, and moves toward the door, it is instead Dara whom she sees. Marie squints with bleary eyes. She feels she has hardly slept at all.


"May I speak with you? Privately."

"Yes, of course." Marie nods and turns from the door. Behind her, Dara enters. Marie glances back as the door closes. "Can I get you something to..."

A gasp of horror leaps from Marie's lips as Dara's face begin to melt and change. The woman in yellow follows Marie as the princess stumbles back into the room and Dara's leotard begins to melt and change until it becomes a liquid shadow.

Marie looks up at her own face. "Who are you?"

"Your replacement."

>Cry out for Captain Kess
>Cry out for Valorus
>Cry out for Valorus
>>Cry out for Valorus
>Cry out for Valorus
Damn, they got a Callidus? That fucking Inquisitor must be in on it.
Yes, that is what the first few lines of >>5589163 are implying I think. Feltrov has shown his cards and joined forces against us.
Inquisitors don't obey local lords, so the presence of Feltrovian ships doesn't mean this automatically.
Rolled 7, 2 = 9 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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The changeling's visage is now complete. "I'm sorry, princess. You're supposed to suffer a bit first."

Marie's next step backward drives her into the side of a chair. "Valorus!"

The other Marie hisses "Quiet!" and leaps forward. Marie grabs the chair and throws it at her heels as she flees across the room. The changeling dodges like water up onto the chair and over it. She is almost upon Marie when the princess reaches her bedchamber and the changeling skids to a halt.

Marie has her guardsman lasrifle in hand as she spins and fires. The changeling cartwheels backward to the bedchamber door and flings a vase at the rifle barrel. The changeling is upon her once more and the two struggle over the lasrifle in a pile of bedsheets before Marie is overpowered and her lasrifle tossed into the far corner. The changeling grabs her by the throat and Marie tries to scream but the changeling's grip is iron.

The changeling straddles Marie and her eyes flare wide open in terror as a thin blade slides out of the other's wrist, catching the light as it extends toward Marie's face.

"My instructions were very specific about..."

The changeling gasps as Valorus grabs her wrist and tears her from the princess. She contorts herself in a back-breaking pose that strikes both heels against Valorus's jaw hard enough for him to grunt. The Space Marine grabs at her again and the changeling flails like a wild animal before tangling around him in a lover's embrace and bites at him.

Valorus raps his knuckles against the back of her head and the changeling slumps limp in his arms. He glances up at Marie. "Maybe this is what your warning was about."

Marie rubs her neck and nods. "Is she..."

"Just unconscious. She'll wake up in a few hours. Unless you want me to do something else."

"Secure her in the brig for now. And search Dara's quarters." Marie rises and crosses the disheveled bedchamber to her lasrifle.

The real Dara is sound asleep when her own bedchamber is intruded by a pair of Space Marines. Marie's would-be assassin has already regained her wits when Dara and her escorts reach the ship's detention level.

"I thought you said she would be asleep for hours."

Valorus glances from Marie to the changeling sitting motionless in her cell. "I didn't think she'd come around this quickly."

Felton and the other Eternal Swords have gathered around Marie with the news. A chirp from Dara's control panel draws the attention of everyone but the changeling. Dara glances up at the assembled crowd watching her work. "There's some kind of small device implanted in her skull, but I can't tell what it is, or what it does."
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A meeting is called again in the Columba Dei's war room.

"Beg pardon, yer majesty." Kess doesn't wait for Marie to give him leave to continue speaking before he leans forward and drags his gaze across the other faces gathered around the table. "If that's really a Callidus, we should put a bolter to her skull and be done with it."

"A Callidus assasin would seem to have come from the Inquisition," agrees Valorus. He glances at Marie with one raised eyebrow. "What kind of problem did you have with the Inquisitor on Feltrov?"

Marie crosses her arms defensively and leans back in her chair. "It was more friction with his daughter Astryd than anything else," she says with a side look at the Space Marine. "That and the Inquisitor's own low opinion of the Cult Mechanicus, but I don't think our last meeting would have given him cause to send an assassin after me."

"Power often corrupts." Marie glances at Lauronum as the tech-priest continues. "Inquisitor Richter might be allied with the Lord of Feltrov for personal gain above the best interest of the Imperium."

Marie leans forward and laces her fingers on the table. "Astryd mentioned her father had been on Feltrov for less than a year." Again she wishes the Lady Helveticus was at her side. Kitty was always better at navigating the shoals of politics.

"This changes our strategy options."

When Felton speaks she glances up from the table. "What do you mean?"

Captain Kess answers for the Chapter Master. "We might have that Callidus bottled up for the moment but we've also got to think about the Multa fleet." Kess looks across the table at the Space Marines. "If Valorus spoiled their plans for you, they might attack at any moment."

Felton nods at Kess and turns toward Marie. "A direct engagement may be unwise now that they've got two heavy cruisers."

Valorus springs to his feet. "We can't just sit here and wait!"

"He's right." Kess looks around the room once more. "Waiting until more ships arrive might pose an even greater risk."

Valorus looks at Marie. "What about that message?"

Marie laces her fingers again. "It's a shot in the void. I'd have to leave the fleet here and take the Columba Dei."

"We could go to Feltrov."

Everyone turns to look at Dara.

>Order your ships to engage the Multa fleet
>Travel to Feltrov and meet with Inquisitor Richter
>Travel to Fossa and meet with the stranger
We could go to Feltrov, if Richter is selfish and is putting his personal power above the Imperium then he would be wise to ally with the rising power that we are rather than some rebellious lords. Kitty could help with this, the proper incentives like generic bribes or selling out Dara or the Mechanicus could work. But, I think I prefer to just win this battle.

>Order your ships to engage the Multa fleet

More enemy ships will be arriving the longer we wait or spend dallying visiting others, we just have to keep at it.
>Travel to Fossa and meet with the stranger
The lord of Multa will think the assassin managed to replace us. He won't expect it when we return.
>>Travel to Feltrov and meet with Inquisitor Richter
Switching to...
>Travel to Fossa and meet with the stranger

Since I was convinced. Though if we do so then we should leave with our entire fleet rather than leave them unsupervised and vulnerable.
>>Travel to Fossa and meet with the stranger
>Travel to Feltrov and meet with Inquisitor Richter
Rolled 1, 3 = 4 (2d10)


+ 3 Princess Points

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The others begin to speak freely to one another.

Marie stands.

"I am taking the fleet toward Fossa." All discussion stops and Marie continues. "The Lord of Multa will expect that Callidus to have replaced me. We'll give him a show of losing ground."

Brave Captain Kess is the first to speak. "Beg pardon, yer majesty. Are you sure it's wise to cut and run when we've gained half the system already? I admit it might be a hard fight to take Multa, but..."

"I've never doubted the skill or courage of my guardsmen, Captain. It's the size of those battlecruisers that concerns me. I don't want to have all we've striven to build end dashed against them."

Chapter Master Felton stands and bows. "I will begin assembling the fleet to enter the Warp at once, Princess Sigismundus." He glances up at Marie mid-bow. "With your permission, I will take leave of your beauty."

"The sooner, the better," says Marie. The princess glances at Felton and adds, "After all, I'm supposed to be dead by now."

Marie no longer controls the worlds of Seges and Villam. Her Dominion decreases to 20.

The Columba Dei enters the Warp with Marie and her guardsmen aboard, and her tech-priest Lauronum. Valorus again commands the Shining Scourge, and his brother the Chapter Master commands the Ecumenical Blade. The pair of Space Marine ships follows in behind her, and the rest of Marie's fleet behind them.

Their travel through the Warp is uneventful until the final hour when Dara's control panel chirps a noise none of them have heard before.

"What is it?" asks Marie, but the woman in yellow can only shake her head.

"I don't know. There's some kind of current affecting the other ships."

Marie sits forward in her chair. "Contact the Blade. Tell Chapter Master..."

Dara's panel chirps again and when she pecks at the dark glass she looks up with surprise. "The other ships! I can't find them on sensors!" Marie has no time to give further commands when the bridge shakes and Dara's panel chirps out another warning. "Coming up on the drop-out point."

The Columba Dei exits the Warp alone.
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"Where are they? Contact them!" demands Marie, but Dara can only tap the black glass and shake her head. Reluctantly, Marie orders the Columba Dei taken farther into the system.

Fossa is guarded by nothing but its pair of tiny moons locked forever in a slow dance that keeps Umbra eclipsed by Lux. Marie's shuttle receives no vox directing them into a traffic lane and so the shuttle pilot simply puts them on a heading down toward the hive-planet. They pass through dirty clouds and Marie sees how ancient Fossa truly is. The world-city has been built stacked upon other buildings laid thousands of years ago, and beneath them even more ancient ruins no doubt lay pressed between the living city and the bedrock. They approach the tips of the spires and Marie realizes the shroud encircling this world is not from the output of factories but from the smoke of warfare from rival gangs the size of armies.

A heavy spak-spak-spak along the shuttle's hull jerks her attention from the windscreen.

"We're taking fire!" shouts Captain Kess. "Prepare to target and..."

"No," Marie orders. "Keep going. I don't want to draw attention." To the pilot she calls, "How close are we to the coordinates?"

"Ninety seconds," calls the pilot, and again their hull rattles under the impact. "Two enemy shuttles!" An explosion sends Marie banging into the hull as her shuttle tilts wildly to port. "Fuel line's hit!"

"Beg pardon, yer majesty, but we need to..."

A reverberation shakes their shuttle and Marie fears they're about to crash when the gang shuttles suddenly veer away under fire from stationary emplacements. "I've got landing instructions," calls the pilot. In front of them the wall of a building yawns open exposing the mouth of a fortified hangar. Marie is pulled against her straps as the shuttle crashes sideways through the gap and skids trailing fire across the hangar floor.

When the guardsmen emerge from the shuttle and storm down the ramp a bald man in a vest is waiting for them.

"Princess Sigismundus of Bastius, I presume?"

Marie stands up to her full height as she descends the ramp to meet him. The bald man is taller than any of her guardsmen.

"I am," says Marie. "And who am I addressing?"

"Granville, your majesty. The lady of the house has been expecting you, of course."

Marie glances at Kess. "I believe you may order your men to lower their weapons," the princess says with a grin. "If the lady of the house had wanted us dead, she could have just left us outside."
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"This way, please." The man leads Marie and her guardsmen into an opulent sitting room ringed with thick drapes. "You may wait here," he says, and exits the way they came.

Kess does not sit, nor order his guardsmen to do so. The guardsmen stand crowded and nervous between fronds of delicate lace. Their heavy boots leave tracks on the plush carpet. When a pair of doors at the far end of the room are pulled open Kess nearly draws his lasrifle.

"At ease, Captain," whispers Marie.

The servant pulls in a breath and proclaims, "Presenting the Lady Magdalena Marburg." He steps to one side, and the lady of the house shows herself. She is very pale, and her eyelids hang sleepily open. Nevertheless, her hair has been immaculately coifed, and she presents herself with perfect poise.

"Princess Marie Naivetus Sigusmundus." Lady Magdalena draws out the sides of her gown as she speaks. "Welcome to Fossa."

"Lady Marburg. Thank you for accommodating us."

The lady of the house beckons with one upturned hand toward an overstuffed couch. "Please."

Granville has returned bearing a tray with hot tea and a fluted silver pipe. The Lady Marburg holds the pipe daintily. "Fresh kyxa?"

"No, thank you." Marie holds her cup close and looks at it for a moment while Lady Magdalena inhales.

"Thank you, Granville," she says with an exhalation as the bald man withdraws his microtorch. Lady Magdalena looks through the thin haze at Marie. "I couldn't risk having a transmission intercepted by Stanislaus Grenz."

Marie blows gently on the surface of her tea. "I'm not familiar."

"He calls himself the Lord of Multa, but he was once my brother's business partner." Marie takes a delicate sip. Lady Magdalena continues. "My brother was murdered for the knowledge I am about to give. There is a dead man's switch placed in each of the cruisers of Stanislaus's fleet. They can only be terminated from his palace on Multa. He would see his own fleet scuttled before falling into another's hands."

"You seem to know a great deal," offers Marie.

"I know there are two battleships being rebuilt in the shipyard above Beatrix." Lady Magdalena exhales another wisp and sees the princess's reaction. "Yes, battleships. They are not intended for your fleet, Princess Sigismundus."

Marie places her teacup and dish on the low table in front of them. "You have given me much, Lady Marburg."

The lady of the house draws on her silver pipe again. "I will help you in your crusade," she exhales, "if you will name me Shipmaster of Fossa, the title once held by my family."

"Such a thing is within my power, but my fleet is... elsewhere."

>Remain above Fossa and pray for the safe arrival of your fleet
>Leave word for your fleet and travel toward Feltrov
>Leave word for your fleet and travel back toward Multa
>Remain above Fossa and pray for the safe arrival of your fleet

Prayer fixes everything! We'll assist the lady and receive a new vassal and two new battleships in turn.
>Find a sympathetic gang of dashing rogues that don't actually do crime, and help them in their fight with a comically evil gang of actual psychopaths lead by a megalomaniac to then obtain their help for Lady Magdalena.
This IS Disneyhammer.
>>Leave word for your fleet and travel toward Feltrov
>>Leave word for your fleet and travel toward Feltrov
Rolled 4, 7 = 11 (2d10)


+ 4 Princess Points

The Ordo Questor got to him.

Sorry for the delay in updates. I think they call it the QM Curse?

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