Necrons Go Home
The Inquisition was called to Halan’s Prospect, a moon of Xephone VII. A body had been found with apparently alien technology burning in its skull. The team investigated and uncovered some Necrons stealing precious metals.
The victim had been kidnapped and a small device implanted into his head that would control his movements. At some point it short circuited and killed his brain. By the time the team began investigating he had already smuggled a large amount of precious metals away from Port Jovian.
Tracking his movements, Max was in the vanguard, so was the first to run into the Necrons and was subsequently captured by a swarm of Necron Scarabs. Padraic charged in to rescue him but was caught as well, however he managed to raise and sustain a powerful psychic field to protect them both from the swarm.
The Necron hacked into the team’s communications and began negotiation with them, which after Ekaterin handled them for a while, Michael eventually took over. He traded some more minerals to the Necrons of the House Semotek of the Amanotep Dynasty in exchange for them leaving Halan’s Prospect, freeing Max and Padraic, and giving the Imperium the location of several Tomb Worlds of the Khafret Dynasty.
Michael also requested, and received, a method to communicate with the Necrons in case it would be useful in future dealings with mutual enemies.
+++TO: Inquisitor Drake; Inquisitor Lear;
+++FROM: Inquisitor Michael
+++SUBJECT: Necrons on Halan’s Prospect
There is a Necron incursion on Halan’s Prospect, Xephone, Scyrian Expanse. We don’t know how big yet, but we have a confirmed sighting. I’m heading down on a shuttle. No time for a full briefing but I’ve attached our data records so far just in case. If it comes to it, make sure you read the parts about the neck bugs. I’ve instructed Captain Fuente, on the Accipiter, to send updates every hour for as long as he can.
Emperor willing I’ll send another update in an hour. If not, you know what to do. Admiral Ortano has run into them before. Watch Captain Valerian of the deathwatch may also be able to assist.
Once the clean-up operation on Halan’s Prospect was completed, and the Inquisition team had departed aboard the Accipiter, Michael summoned those members of the team who had been privy to the negotiations, including Tech-Priest Elazar and his crew, to the ship’s briefing room. Like much of the ship’s interior it was somewhat ornate, a legacy of the ship’s history as a Rogue Trader’s personal vessel. Those who knew Michael better were aware that his tastes were somewhat more spartan, yet he had made no effort to update the aesthetic.
“Thank you all for coming. Some of you are new to the service of the Inquisition, some extremely new, so I felt a bit of a special debrief was in order. The events of this last week run somewhat contrary to the general policies the Imperium publically propagates, and I can imagine that for those of you new to the Inquisition, things may not have ended up exactly how you expected them to.
“The Imperial Creed is clear. To rule the stars under the unity of the Imperium is the divine right of mankind. Furthermore, we are to purge the heretic, beware the psyker and mutant, and abhor the alien. That is in fact the third tenet, word for word. ‘purge the heretic, beware the psyker and mutant, and abhor the alien.’ To the general public, this is straightforward. Kill on sight. Send out heroic regiments against the foe in waves to crush them from every world. Would that we could. It is best for the general public to keep things simple, but for the higher authorities of the Imperium, matters are not so simple.
“The alien threats laid against the Imperium are vaste, and our resources, though also vaste, are not infinite. The job of the Ordo Xenos is to ensure we make the best use of those resources. One aspect of that is to learn about our hated enemies, find their weaknesses, devise strategies against them. There is a terrible Xenos breed known as the Umbra. Plain shiny black spheres, though unassuming in physicality possess a terrifying psychic potential. Horrifying. Could kill an entire squad of Astartes in seconds. Can be killed with bright light. Just… ordinary light. The Ordo Xenos discovered that, not through brute force but by examination and study.
“We also learn our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities against the foes. The famous Ork menace. Crude and violent, not a complicated threat. Or so it might seem. Orks shed spores, and from spores grow more Orks. When we send the Imperial Guard out to purge the Ork threat, and they wipe it out entirely, the story isn’t over. The Ordo Xenos discovered that too. Now we know that afterwards we have to burn all the ground where the Orks gathered, watch out for the spores that were too deep to sprout, and burn again. Now we know to be watchful, and we can prevent Ork re-emergence on worlds we have already purged.
“And then there is diplomacy. Diplomacy as a weapon. Over on the Eastern Fringe there is a so-called Empire of the T’au race. We are for the most part, accepting the odd war here and there, in a truce with them. It is an uneasy truce, but it is a truce. With an entire alien race. Why? Certainly not because we don’t fully intend to crush them. But whilst we maintain a cease-fire, our armies are free to deal with the remains of Hive Fleet Behemoth, whilst letting the T’au shed their alien blood fighting Hive Fleet Gorgon. Once we’ve mopped up Hive Fleet Behemoth we’ll clean up whoever is left between Gorgon and the T’au.
“Had we more military resources available here, things might have gone differently with Semotek. With the resources we had available, we have purged Halan’s Prospect of Xenos, discovered the home base of some of the Necrons who have been a dangerous rogue presence in the sub-sector for some time and cost the Imperial Navy lives and ships, and of course rescued two highly valuable agents. That we bought all this for a small amount of metal and some pleasant words, rather than with the blood of martyrs, some zealots will find unpious. Personally I find it to be a vast improvement but that is an ethical debate that will outlast us all.
“I would however caution you to consider that every word I spoke on that rock was calculated to win us victory for the Imperium, and even then I could not bring myself to announce us as ‘allies’ of those soulless creatures. Rest assured that the House Semotek of the Amanotep Dynasty is an enemy of the Imperium and we will destroy them. There can be no peace for humanity whilst other races inhabit the stars. However for as long as Semotek believe we are at peace with them, the longer we can deal with more pressing threats unopposed. Or indeed use them as a tool against others, such as the Khafret Dynasty.
“So. Any questions? Ethical, practical or otherwise?”
Ekaterin watched Michael carefully as he spoke, black eyes fixed on his face. He seemed genuine enough, but that meant nothing - she’d met a lot of good liars in her life.
She’d looked for a way out of the Maj because of the back-pocket deals, the pervasive corruption that had worn her down. In her first week on the job for Michael she’d written to a friend, told him how good it was to have a boss who was so straight-down-the-line, who didn’t seem like he’d ever taken a bribe in his life.
Was this a bribe? It had seemed like it at first. She’d been reminded uncomfortably of the many deals she’d seen in action. Information traded for a light sentence. Missing out on a suspect right as she was about to close on him, because he knew exactly the right thing to say to her boss to make him wave his hand and tell Ekaterin to back off.
But there weren’t planets involved in her drug busts. Millions of lives were not affected by her attempted arrests in the Maj. Michael played with bigger stakes than Kat could have even comprehended two months ago.
How do I know if you’ve gone too far? She wanted to ask. How do I know what’s normal for an Inquisitor? How do I know you’re doing the right thing?
Instead she glanced about her to check for other speakers before opening her mouth. “You want us to keep it quiet I assume, Sir?” Kat asked quietly, her expression grave. It was the same question she would have asked her old Captain. “The agreement?”
Max lent against the back wall of the lavish briefing room, arms folded and watching Michael intently. At Katerina's words he breathed out a quiet, derisive snort, but did not take his eyes off the Inquisitor.
“To anyone without Inquisitorial clearance, yes, without a doubt. Everything that happened on this mission is classified. If people knew that Necrons could simply teleport onto our planets and we don’t even know when it was happening, or that they could directly hack into our most secure communications… that is the sort of horrible knowledge that we in the Inquisition must bear, but must spare the wider Imperium from.
“As for telling other Inquisitors… that I leave to your individual conscience. Making a deal with Xenos is within my remit as an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos. The laws of the Imperium do not apply to Inquisitors, I answer only to my fellow Inquisitors and Him on Terra. I can and, if necessary, will defend my decisions in a tribunal of my peers; and I am confident I would be found to have acted correctly.
“That said, like any large organisation, different members have different views. There are those within the Holy Ordos who take a more extreme view and would I suspect believe what I had done was wrong, they would have sacrificed the entire world to deny the enemy some metal. They don’t hold a majority viewpoint, but they do exist. As such I prefer to keep such actions to myself, I’m far too busy to want to get involved with internal politics.
“I should add that I could be put in an awkward position if a more extremist puritanical Inquisitor were to assert that I acted not for the best of the Imperium but out of weakness and a desire to save the lives of those close to me.” He shrugged, “how does one prove one’s motivations?
“If you’re worried about it I would suggest you speak with Inquisitor Kovach or Lear in the first instance, since naturally I would be biased in this case since it affects me. If you really feel you must, I won’t stop you from reporting me to Kaprun, but it could make my life more difficult so don’t expect a card from me next Candlemas.”
The tone of his words were joking, but his body language was not entirely relaxed.
Padraic had never felt so tired. His very bones ached. He knew he was lucky to have got off so lightly. Maintaining a protective dome for that long was foolish. He had seen students who had suffered greatly trying to maintain it for more than 30 minutes. Blood pouring from their noises, fainting and a few who had needed to spend a few nights in the care of the Psykana’s medic officer.
He leaned against the wall. He hoped that all attention was on Inquisitor Michael and that no one would notice that he winced on impact. He tried to calm his breathing. It took all his will to focus on Michael and to remain standing.
He had entered the Necron’s scarab horde knowing full well the price he would pay. He had not wanted Max to face the horde alone. No man should have to face death alone. Together they may have been able to keep them distracted whilst the others escaped. He fully expected to die in the process and for Inquisitor Michael to unleash hell on the Necrons. It was the way of war and would have been a small price to pay.
Yet here he stood.
He looked around the room to try and gauge the rooms reaction. A wall of concerned and serious faces.
Beware the Psyker. Yet here he stood.
Was he not a testament that a more nuanced and intelligent approach to matters could reap a multitude of rewards? He had saved many a young soul from being killed due to fear and hatred towards his kind. Those souls that now filled the pages of Larnock’s heroes.
He listened. He tried to keep his face as impassive as possible.
It was an interesting, thoughtful and well executed speech. A barbed offer of openness with other Inquisitors. No mention of the war on heaven.
Padraic took a moment. Sizing up whether now was the time to ask. If he asked Michael privately he may not get the answers he sought. Now, may be the only moment with a room of witnesses he would get some semblance of an answer. However, he would potentially condemn the room further.
‘Inquisitor Michael, for one I am extremely grateful for your actions as I would not be standing here now. Thank you for being so open with your approach. There seems to be an area which has been left unmentioned - the war on heaven. We all heard the words spoken and I would like to understand a little further what they meant.’
“Hmm, yes. The War in Heaven, in fact, although you were a little preoccupied at the time.” Michael smiled at Padraic as he said this with genuine warmth. “A fanciful name, and not one the Imperium would have come up with, it’s a transliteration of an Aeldari term. It dates from a time when even the Eldar race was young. The Eldar worshipped a race of, well, we don’t really know. Either powerful psykers or maybe demons. Certainly not as powerful as the four great powers, and one could not begin to compare them to the God-Emperor. Nevertheless, the perfidious Eldar worshipped them as Gods, and even now pay respect to them despite their apparent destruction.
“Forgive me, I’m getting side-tracked. Relevant to our interests, this Aeldari pantheon and the Necron race came into conflict, and the War in Heaven is the Eldar’s name for this great conflict. The Eldar fought alongside their ‘Gods’ against the Necrons. The end result was the Eldar Gods laid low and the Necron race disappearing, presumably into the sleeping tombs we now find them emerging from. This is a myth significantly older than the entire human race, so deriving real facts from ancient alien legend is pretty much guesswork. Academically interesting but of little practical worth without more information.
“That said, Padraic, you may recall you uncovered some buried Blackstone a while back on Ariscone. The most famous occurrence of Blackstone in the galaxy is in the Blackstone Fortresses of the Gothic sector. The Eldar refer to these as Talismans of Vaul, Vaul being the smith god of their pantheon, and it seems they may be ancient weapons left over from this ‘War in Heaven’. If you’re interested I can recommend some books about the Gothic War, also known as the 12th Black Crusade, although I must say it’s not cheerful reading.”
Benedikt was honestly terrified. His chest tight and eyes flicking around the room trying not to make actual contact with anyone else.
Survive this, he thought, no need to draw attention to yourself. The Navy had taught him well to try to be unnoticed when trouble is brewing. The problem was... there was some real, actual trouble here.
He had joined the Inquisition. The actual Inquisition, and almost immediately he'd found everything he'd Known throughout his life to be a lie. There were so many soft edges, so many grey areas. No certainty.
He'd known the propaganda never matched the reality, the military also teaches that well. But Micheal... so casual in his conversational style with the alien, so clearly 'ok' with the softer diplomacy... Were all Inquisitors this way in private? Surely not...
Oh thank the Emperor, Padraig seems to be taking the attention, just keep quiet and everything will be ok…
+++TO: Admiral Laius Ortano;
+++FROM: Inquisitor Michael
+++SUBJECT: Necrons in the Scyrian Expanse
Dear Admiral Lortano,
In the course of my investigations some information has come to light regarding the Necrons in the Scyrian Expanse that you may find useful.
Firstly, there are at least two factions. Those you have previously come into conflict with are, I believe, the Khafret Dynasty. Whilst the Khafret Dynasty are actively hostile towards the Imperium there is another faction, the Amanotep Dynasty, who claim to be isolationist and wish to avoid conflict. It is the duty and destiny of the Imperium to cleanse the stars of their kind, regardless of faction; but until that glorious day I believe you are a man who could make use of this information in the short term.
Secondly, I have attached a datafile containing the stellar coordinates of two tomb complexes of the Khafret Dynasty. This is unverified and the information may be inaccurate or outdated. It could also be a trap. I do not have the time or resources to investigate the matter further at present. I have no specific guidance for you in this regard, I simply wish you to be fully informed. If you do act upon this information in some manner I would appreciate being kept informed.
+++ATTACHED DATAFILE: Khafret Tomb World Stellar Coordinates++++
Yours in faith,