The Price of Ambition

The search begins

Curia was one of the most beautiful worlds so close to the Koronus Expanse. The once proud Sela dynasty as fallen onto hard times and the once many estates and hunting ranges have become overgrown from lack of use. Deep forests, high mountains, and plentiful seas. Almost like what terra must have looked like so very long ago. The shipyards in orbit were once robust and held many ships of the dynasty now some sections hang in orbit never used. Only one slip has a ship in it. The families greatest hope.
It is a Meritech Raider, the best vessel they were able to acquire. They had appointed Naevia Sela, the daughter of the head of the dynasty to captain the vessel. Her command crew were veterans of working with the Sela Dynasty. The vessel was soon to leave orbit of Curia.

Naevia had called her senior staff to the situation room. It was an opulent room. The table was carved from a single piece of wood depicting the greatest predators of a hundred thousand worlds. Each chair was carved from a single piece of ivory taken from the horns of an ocean predator. In the center of the table sat bottles of wine from the vineyards of Curia. Fresh breads, fruits and meat laid out. Naevia sat there in one of her finest outfits made from feathers and furs from animals of different worlds. So extensive was her wardrobe there was an entire staff dedicated to maintaining it.

The command crew all made their way there at their own pace, Alaric arriving outside the chamber, telling his staff to contact him should something happen with the experiment. Afterwards walking inside and greeting the captain with a bow, taking his seat on the opposite end of the table.

Koragin sits quietly in the room, looking over the fancy meal with a distasteful look on his face. He has a dataslate in front of him and seems to be doing calculations.

Fae stands behind Naevia like any proper bodyguard would a look of joy on her face and the occasional soft smile towards her captain when she wasnt looking. Looking comfortable but alert.

While Ianus sits as far away from the others as possible, his clothing disheveled and out of place in this grand room. He looks around himself nervously.

Koragin coughs, and forcing idle banter. “Naevia, I was looking over the the prices for Curian wine in Footfall and I believe we can create a stronger market if we change the label on the bottle to a mythological creature… perhaps a Deerling from Terran folk-lore? Recognizable.”

Alaric after giving his orders to his men greets the captain with a bow and takes his seat on the opposite end of the table.

While Alax walked in last. Given that she knew the ship as well as any of them, save perhaps their master herself, this was likely intentional. Pale and willowy she dressed conservatively despite her rank, and the only ornamentation she bore where small trinkets of the imperial cult. “Greetings.” She bowed lightly and stepped in “I trust you all are doing well?” She was always formal, but rarely was she unpleasant.

Naevia looked to each of them. Her brilliant green eyes studying those of her command staff. Gloved hands held the win bottle easily in her grasp as she took another sip. Rather use to the luxurious lifestyle her station gave to her. Her attention to Koragin “Make a note of that. Anything to increase profit. Though I have called you all here to go over what my family wishes us to accomplish”

Interupting Koragin turns toward Alaric. "Your expenditures have been higher than the suggested amount allocated. Causing Fae to laugh before quickly catching herself and regaining her composure, however still throwing a quick smirk towards Alaric.

Alaric responds "I’ve about to reach a breakthrough in my work, I should be able to increase the effectiveness of a teleportarium, and get started building one for the ship soon. Noticing Fae giggling he sticks his tongue at her back.

Alax looked at Alric with interest at the mention of upgrading the ship, then subtly rolled her eyes at his and Fae’s antics. She was curious naturally about anything that would increase the performance of the her ship, but most of this was going over her head.

Koragin taps a bottle of the wine. “This produce is making us profit. I have no evidence your ‘experiments’ will make anything of value for us at all.”

Alax however smiled, tapping the table to get their attention “Nothing ventured, and nothing will be gained. We cannot make a name for ourselves, we cannot improve the imperium, without some manner of risk.” she said. “And as far as they go, this one is tolerable.”

Fae looks over at Naevia. “My lady, you should probably state your mission before they start throwing wine bottles and servitors.”

Naevia looked to Koragin “One must look good at all times. Now as I was saying. Our mission is to rebuild the trade routes and those worlds once used for our specialty which was the beast trade. The right specimens can earn a great specimen. Along the way they want us to search for the Curia’s Star. The ship my uncle was captaining and lost. Which lead to such hard times”

“It’s a cursed ship, it would be better for all of us if we left it alone.” this causing Fae to look uncomfortable, bu she holds her tongue.

Naevia gave her attention to Ianus “Seriously? Think of all that profit? Cursed is an upsell”

“So we need some great beast and an old ship, should be to hard. What system are we going to?” Alaric says agreeing with his lady, “Yes curses are for the uneducated, there is always a rational explanation for events.”

“Ianus glares at Alaric “I have seen things that would destroy your very soul. I can show them to you if you like. Do not doubt the power of the Arcane.” "Profit only has value if you’re around to use it. I will not become some foul beings puppet.

“Reguardless”, Naevia interrupts “Out goal is Currently the planet of Empty Hearth. An old world from the time of the Dark Ages. It is beyond Winterscale’s Realm out near the Accused Demnse” "Within it is Curia’s Star “It is one of the largest ships in the whole of the Expanse and even into the sectors beyond. Nearly 13 kilometers long it was a great treasure. Beasts from all corners of the Expanse held in great pens”

“Master why is it that no one has attempted to reestablish contact with this world until now?” Fae says looking down at Naevia.

“The system Empty Hearth is in was in dispute until recently. The disaster of our rival House Maerin, has lead to a chance for a return to profit. It is also one of the stops Curia’s Star made before vanishing” Naevia taking a sip of her wine to clear her throat.

Ianus sighs and visibly straightens himself. “You are, of course, right. If the time comes, I will fly the vessel through the warp. Curse or no Curse” This causes another bought of giggling from Fae.

“Curia’s Star is immense. Similar in pattern to the Mass Conveyors. Its main function was the transportation of the most dangerous predators our other Beast Ships could not handle. Great tanks of water to held aquatic predators. It had hard mount turrets in the walls with programs to kill anything that moved in the event that total control was lost”
“By its last vox signals the Star held nearly ten thousand specimens for trade. Including those of private sources that wanted very specific creatures. The loss of those contracts hurt us dearly”

Alax looking mildly confused at Fae’s spat of laughter, and instead nods along with Koragin. “How soon will we be leaving m’lady? It does not sound like this is something we can waste time dawdling on. We must emulate those predators that we seek to capture and move quickly, and with assurance, yes?”

“Yes, We are moving out once this meeting is over. Anyone have anything to add if not then too your dutys.” Naevia said finally

“As you wish.” Alax said with a bow, “I shall start preparing the cargo holds to hold any creatures we find.”

“Then I must go to my work, Naevia. To the fruit of our success…” Koragin stands, taking the bottle of wine and dataslate with him as he leaves the room.

Alax bows, “I will head to the batteries to prepare, should the worst occur.”

Ianus stands and begins to walk out, “As you wish.”

Naevia would stand as well and moved out onto the bridge. One of the servitors rung the large bell that sounded across the bridge when the Captain came on deck "As you all were. Make way for the outer system. “Master of the helm. Relinquish control to the helm to Navigator Ianus”

Fae would follow Naevia, standing slightly behind her and to the left as always.

“Captain I have plotted the course. Reversion to the sea of souls on your order” Ianus would respond climbing towards the Navigators bubble.

“Warp Drive active captain.” Alax mentioned softly, sitting at the pilots chair and grasping an aqula tightly, she then began her Litanies of Safe Travel. A match to the slow countdown given to them by the Machine Spirit.

“Five,” “May the God-Emperor watch over us”

“Four,” As he does all of man-kind"

The ship began to darken as power was drawn from the fusion drives into the warp engines and gellar field.

“Three”, “For Into the realm of souls we go, and he will defend us.”

The ship began to shake, screens flickering briefly. Already the crew held their breath is suspense.

“Two”, “Against the dangers that lurk within, he will cleanse us.”

The ship began to grown. Almost like a terrible iron beast waking from its rest to once against feast on the galaxy around it.

“One”, Until we reach our destination. The emperor protects.

The Warp Drive activated and for a brief second there was nothingness. Time Stretched and compressed, space distorted. Physics and Science lost all meaning as The meritech raider smashed through the barrier between the material and immaterium. Into the sea of souls and beyond.

However their were problems, The New Venture was about to become the lost venture it seemed. Translation into real space was brutal. The ship shook terribly. Joints stressing. Klakons began to sound all over the ship. Void shields were off line. Weapon systems offline. Navigational auguries determined they were heading into the systems asteroid field.

Alaric rushes to the shield systems and tries to get them back on line. While As soon as the ship entered space Alax began earning her keep and showing why the Helmslast where among the greatest lineage of pilots in the known worlds. She worked the ship in such a manner that it could only be called a work of art, every moment she was making an adjustment, altering the course slightly to bring the safely out of the labyrinth of asteroids. “I apologize m’lady, we should be out of this shortly, Emperor wills.” She said, not even looking away from her work, and her tone calm and even.

Fae calmly lets go of Naevia having stopped her flying about the place. Asking her softly if was ok and keeping her hand on naevia’s shoulder as a sign of support, Luckily Alax managed to bring the raider out of its awkward position to fly straight and level.

Naevia just sat calmly in her seat “Well then so our adventure begins” This was herald by a meteor passing within inches of the brig, Alax continued to push the ship to its limit to avoid the asteroids and pick out a successful path. Through rather gut retching twists and turns for a vessel nearly two kilometers long sent people tumbling back and forth through rooms and hallways. A lot of bruises and broken bones. A few unlucky ones got tossed into grinding gears.

Did the primary buffer panel just fall of my ship? I thought Alaric just fixed it! Naevia yells out. “I told him to fix it master..”Fae says in response. “I think he got distracted” Alaric coms in on the horn I did fix it, the damn Navigator knocked it off on reentry" then goes back to fixing the engines.

Naevia looked around the bridge. She would stand up and smoothed out her outfit “So! Let us bet this was the navigators first time. And we all know how painful first times can be” Causing Alax to look confused and Fae to blush and look to the side awkwardly.

“I don’t get it m’lady.” Alax says timidly. Causing Naevia too sigh and shake her head. Going back to sit down “…virgins” this only causes Fae to blush further. “Sorry master…”

Alaric walks back up to the bridge from fixing the system, “I need a stiff drink. Have we arrived at our location?”

“Asteroids Ser Koragin. It is under control.” Said Alax

“It was Ianus first time. It was painful for us all. Thankfully Alax has proven herself a competent pilot” Naevia responded with.

“Yes… well… good work, then, Alax. Ianus… well, worse things have happened. They are just under-scribes. Naevia, any damage to the ship?” Koragin stated, causing Alax to smile with pride, “The warp is a strange and unpredictable place. I have little doubt Ianus did the best he could, and preformed well. It is good we did not have a lesser navigator.”
“Thank you Ser Koragin.” Alax finally finishes with.

The augries determined they arrived over Empty Hearth. The world looked like a marble from space of swirling colors. There were 5 major landmasses all roughly near each other with an inland sea that was almost like a small ocean it was that big.
Naevia looked at Koragin “To my knowledge we still lack weapons”

“I’ll have my men get the weapon systems online immediately.” said Alaric.

Ianus descended from his domed room, looking more strained then usual. “So, this is it then?” Fae walks over and claps him on the shoulder. “You got us here alive good job.”

“I must go change as well. Prepare the gun-cutter to take us to planet. Have the heavy lifters on stand-by once we scout the landing zone” Naevia said nodding to her crew, “My lady I would like to change into my planet side gear.” Fae responded with.

They were to all be going to the planet.Naevia nodding to Fae “We will met in the hanger”
Fae smiling then rushing off to get ready. Naevia turning then to Ianus “You are coming planet side with us”

Fae ends up in mess room somehow.

Naevia moved to her wardrobe in her section of the living wing for the senior staff. Pressing her hand to the control as it read her DNA. The void shields powered down and the vault began to open. Her servants began the process of undressing her and documenting each item as it was put away and the traveling outfit was brought out.

Naevia when finished walks to the hanger. The form fitting outfit hugged those womanly curves. Much like one wore when riding horses on ancient terra. Her wide tri-pointed hat tilted to the side. A bolt pistol strapped to her thigh. And on the other a condensed staff that was used to control animals.

Alaric walks by the mess hall to pick up some rations should the expedition take longer then expected and notices Fae bewildered state,“Need a hand finding something?”Fae looks happily at Alaric. “I cant find where the damn access elevator is for the upper decks….”

“If you are looking for the elevator, take a left a corridor E-8 and a right a D-3, it’ll be down the hall to the left.” “and Be sure to have your access card ready otherwise you’ll be dumped in the incinerator.”

Fae seriously concentrates muttering the directions quietly while making weird counting motions on her hands. “Ok! Got it” begins to walk off down corridor E-8 then turns left.

Ianus headed to his chamber to prepare. It didn’t take long, he didn’t go anywhere without his armor on and his pistol ready. Always loaded with at least one bullet. He did, however, leave his robe on the bed. He also quickly consulted his Tarot. “The Great Eye ascendant… it’s always the Great Eye ascendent.”

Fae somehow walks past Ianus’s chamber. “Elevator…then right…no wait…oh emperor where am I now..”

Ianus walks out of his chamber and crashes into something rather immovable.“Oof, Fae? Shouldn’t you be at Naevia’s side by now? … you’re lost again aren’t you?” Fae looks awkwardly down. “Uh yeh…Top floor, uh…near the Captains Servant Quarters..I need my gear”

Naevia took out a data slate and connected with the cogiators of the ship to activate the battle servitors. Clad in thickened armor the gene-bulked soldiers equipped with large clasps that can subdue beasts if needed. Robust enough to take a beating from wild animals. Alax also settled into the chair in the gun cutter, and after looking around to make sure it was empty she paused, leaned back, and quietly gripped her head and sobbed, just once. That was close. She had no idea how she had done it, honestly. She had almost gotten them all killed, and worse tarnished her families reputation. Out of sight, she let the stress and fear wash over her, and then out of her system, regaining a grip on her emotions just in time for Naevia to enter. “Hello M’lady. The others should arrive shortly.” She said, turning from the cockpit and giving her a simple smile.

Ianus looks confused for a second. “You don’t carry it on you? What if the Geller… nevermind. Alright, I guess I’ll lead you to your quarters then.” Fae looks in-dignified, “I have my sword at all times. But I think ill need my armor and planet side gear don’t you?” Ianus looked concerned for a moment “Well yes, I just… I always wear mine, it just seems prudent.” “Lets just hurry…” Fae hurriedly says.

Alaric arrives at the gun cutter, carrying extra supplies in case of emergency. “This should be enough to keep well should worst come to worse”. He packs it in with the rest of the cargo and checks over the cutter to make sure the ship is ready for launch.

Fae having reached her room quickly gets dressed then rushes out, dressed in very worn but well maintained carapace armor, a floppy hat that seems out of place, a travelers dust cloak and a very large backpack of supplies. “Ok ready!” making her way quickly to the gun cutter Fae makes sure Naevia is buckled in properly then does herself.

“sorry I’m late master..I got lost.” Fae said timidly.

Alax was however busy piloting the ship, unable to be apart of the idle banter. After some bumps in the turbulence landed on the outskirts of the old ruins. A per-Imperial human settlement that has withstood the ravages of time relatively well. The heavy stone pitted and worn from the occasional acid rains and rampant plant growth.

The clouds over rolled where thick and heavy with rain. A mist hung in the air that tingled the throat when they breathed in. The area around the gun-cutter which was partially hidden beneath the ruins of a hanger that serviced the old city. With such growth and the wild animals it was hard to tell who was coming and going.

Naevia looked to Alax “I am not to be coddled but I will remain here at the ship” Then her attention was given to Fae “The ruins first. Find out what happened to our rivals. And any remaining data on the Curia’s Star will be held in the cogiators inside the central dome. Beyond that we are also here to make a profit. I have collection servitors coming down now in their transport”

Fae looked at Naevia with reservation then sighed. “of course” drawing her sword she moved swiftly towards the ruins, leaving her backpack behind with the ship. The rest of the crew following behind her, straight into the forest beyond.

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TheHeavenlyLily

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