Maxwell and Acheron were presiding a meeting of their close associates, in order to come up with a good and foolproof plan to save the ship and if possible the crew of the Spiridon. Acheron was to negotiate with the bounty hunter Vor Bien, and he would demand that if Bien wanted his help in doing the job as cleanly as possible he had to give Acheron something in return. Unless Acheron could keep the ship after the ordeal, there was no interest for him to aid the agent of the Imperium since otherwise he would have to wait for the long and tengled ways of buireaucracy to get the ship back, possibly in 7 or 8 hundred years. And he needs the ship now, today.
Vor Bien found that it was a reasonable condition, and indeed he didn’t even count on getting the ship in one piece since he would certainly have had to resort to blasting it with macrocannons to destroy the cooped up “traitors”. So he agreed, but this was just his amen, and they would have to take it up with the Marshall who was here to witness that the Imperial law get executed.
The reason why Acheron could make it possible to execute the people on Spiridon “gently” was that when the message was sent out that Acheron indeed was alive and coming to get them, the commander of the Spiridon, La Roix de Crisua was overjoyed and welcomed him with open arms. They devised a plan to talk the Marshall into pressganging the “traitors” instead of killing them. And a plan in case the marshal proves to be difficult to convince. In that case they would have to trick La Roix into killing most of the crew by venting them into space and then the company would have to do the dirty job of executing La Roix and his closest underlings. Echo also warned that La Roix probably had no way of surviving for 160 years and that he was most likely a grand grand son of the La Roix that was Acheron’s friend, and depending on the stories he heard about Acheron he would either adore him like an ancient legend or despise him for abandoning his grand grand father to his doom.
There was also mention of killing off the marshal although that would result in retribution from the bounty hunter Vor Bien and his armada.
They decided to Let La Roix know they were on their way and a crew of Acheron, Emil and Echo departed in a guncutter. They first docked Victor Vor Bien’s ship – the Wayblade, where they were received by the marshal himself. He was quite the sight, in beautiful ornate power armor with a storm bolter maglocked on one side and a meltagun on the other. He wasted not a second and commanded the three heroes to follow him. He went straight to his own jet black guncutter, paying almost no attention to their pleas for negotiation. A squad of his personal guard boarded the guncutter with our heroes.
They were quickly on their way into the asteroid field to board the Spiridon. Acheron opened up the conversation quite clumsily, despite all the planning and careful consulting. He tried to pull some gibberish statement of a section of the Imperial law by which the Traitoris Excomunicatis could be granted pardon upon executing their traitorous comrades and renouncing their deeds. To this the marshal responded only with a stern gaze and he probably barely resisted the urge to obliterate the blatherer on the spot. The marshal just demanded that everyone sits down as the guncutter was on its way to a bumpy ride.
The three heroes were despairing and exchanging some resentful looks with eachother, until Emil finally gathered up the courage to engage the marshal in conversation again. He first asked the marshal’s name, and upon getting only his first name realized whom he was talking to. The marshal Verlic Reving was a member of a very greedy and corrupt family of arbites who would do anything to get prestige and wealth, as long as it remained legal in the Imperial records, or in other words no trace of their heretical doings was to survive. Emil saw a great opportunity and quickly stepped up to it by the use of his delicate diplomatic skills. He managed to inveigle the marshal into sparing everything, the ship and the crew, in return for a ridiculously large amount of Throne gelts and a promise of future business as well as giving the marshal’s family a whole planet in the Tiberius colonies to govern.
The rest was just pretense, they arrived among the scared and tormented crew of the Spiridon, calmed La Roix and familiarized him with the situation in private, locked all of the crew in their rooms and vented the ship, also turning off the vitae systems for a short period. This was of course just a ruse that would make the bounty hunter Vor Bien believe that the traitoris excomunicatis have been dealt with. Shortly upon this the marshal demanded a contract to be written and signed by the Tiberius and left with his entourage.
They waited for some time to let Maxwell know, until the bountyhunter left the system with his armada. Then they continued on with their plans of repairing Spiridon and sorting out the crew. Rogue trader Kind agreed to follow Acheron and his crew to help them recover their Grand cruiser Satyricon from the processional of the damned. During the remaining few days of ship repairs, Echo and Emil oversaw the registration and branding of the elite Spiridon crew.
They were quite an experienced crew, that was fourth generation voidborn specialized in space faring and raiding. And they were loyal to Acheron thanks to La Roix, who survived all this time, aging a mere 20 years due to spending most of Acheron’s absence in cryosleep. The original captain, Žark Lequoice, former pirate whom Acheron had defeated and employed back in the year 40 986 remained the captain for a really long time, and his children were succeeding him on the captain position. For a time all was well and they continued to realize trade in the name of the Tiberius family, until they had some really bad luck and started getting into trouble due to Acheron’s prolonged absence.
The current captain was named Diana Carrelson, Žark’s great-great-granddaughter, a stern but young looking woman with a questionable augmented eye and a bionic leg. She told Echo some information about the lineage of the ship’s captains and their past doings. Her predecessor’s name was Cody Yates. They often had to seek refuge on Hindrance, a heretical world usually frequented by pirates, traitors and here-techs. The master of communications on the ship was a lad named Leeland Cummings.
As soon as the ship was fully repaired they departed to resupply and head for the Processional. Echo thought it was too early for this expedition but he also knew they were hunted and that going back to Footfall would probably result in Casaballica agents or other treasure diggers capturing Acheron for the key he got imprinted with. They would also probably get into trouble if they went to get Avarice, the stranded ship Kompost came from. They also needed to include Vexia Tokarev, daughter of cold trader Vladimir Daufis Tokarev IV in the endeavor of getting that Dauntless class cruiser. But first they had to figure out a way how to get to her directly and avoid the Casaballica commission. Luckily Echo recalled that Vladimir was the man with whom they used to trade Eldar artifacts back in the old days, so it was possible that they could appeal to him as a profitable venture, and maybe play the ambitious side of him which secretly wants to overtake the leadership of Casaballica from the sinister baroness Agnes II Nataly Orfelian.
Unfortunately all this left our heroes with no choice but to deal with retrieving the Spyridon and Warrant of Trade first. And it proved to be a difficult task. For as soon as their warp travel was over they came upon a humongous warp gate, bright and sinister, with no hint of what lay on the other side. It was too early to go fetch the Eldar Akanaska to gain his help with the Processional, so they decided to scout it out on their own. Maxwell Kind refused to follow and decided to wait for them before the gate.
They bravely set course for the gate. Reality bent around them and quickly they entered a strange and eerie space with many ship corpses and asteroids floating and crashing in an endless procession towards a large glowing black hole that was in the middle. There were also two planets in the vicinity, closer of which was, Blight, a hollow planet. Everyone was silent and dumbfounded by the sight and the pulsing screech of the scanners filled the air. Rhythmic pulsing tone growing louder and louder. Acheron took the steering wheel and drove the ship towards Satyricon which was just barely visible from all the debris. Then Echo saw something. Something awfully familiar – there were creatures on the ships, moving, floating from one wreckage to the other and visible from afar, they had to be gargantuan. Then a flash of total recall hit him – the Hollow men. He remembered seeing them before, when he was previously here, or so he thought. But unfortunately, he couldn’t tell if they were dangerous, or if they were just scavengers, struggling to survive, living off of the giant ship corpses.
But the legend says, no one comes back from the Processional, and they would soon find out why. For in the next moment the scanner started sounding a different pulse, as if there was a large mass pursuing the Spiridon. Acheron decided to look at the pict feeds to see what it was, Echo averted his eyes as on the screens appeared a black tentacled mass filled with sharp inhuman teeth and eyes. The thing was of epic proportion and had it caught up with the ship it would have completely engulfed it. Luckily Acheron realized he could outrun it and hide the small transport ship in the hollow planet. But intruders were detected too, on the outer hull which they were trying to breach. It was the Hollow men. Kompost quickly took initiative and started commanding all the guns to shoot at the targets. Emil was dealing with the sudden drop of crew morale, while Echo ran personally to confront the Hollow ones in the bowels of the ship and try to protect the vital ship components. He came upon a depressurized hallway where he found two of the creatures digging their way through hulls and hulls to get deeper. He quickly started shooting at them but to his horror the two intruders charged him so he had to parry their attacks with his trusty Omnissian Power Axe. Unfortunately one dazzling blow to the head put him to sleep and he woke up only to find that the creatures were missing. His cogitators had reset for a second and it was enough time for them to disappear. The last blow the oozing black mass was able to bestow upon the poor Spiridon went straight towards its Gellar fields and obliterated them. They were trapped inside the hollow planet, they could not leave this place without the gellar fields, and the enemy was certainly too powerful.
While they were despairing and figuring out their options, a proximity alarm went on and a guncutter appeared on the scanners. They quickly rushed down to the docking bay to see what this was. As the guncutter doors opened out came a single tech priest with a delayed comment “Error, this does not compute”. Behind him appeared a tormented and gray-haired version of Acheron Tiberius.