Sunday, 28 November 2010

[Rogue Trader] An Unwarranted Warrant, or, The Blancheviperre Goes Forth: Part the First

The archaic vidcaster rattles to life, illuminating the room with its unearthly light.

On the monochromatic screen, a distinguished figure sits enthroned upon the bridge of a mighty ship. Daltian Timoth, renowned on a thousand worlds as the face of Janus Roark, Secret Inquisitor, is dressed in the gaudy heraldry of a successful Rogue Trader. He turns to the camera.

"Ave, citizen," he intones, in a voice poured like molten silver. "and glory to the God-Emperor. I invite you to sit, and give praise, for tonight I welcome you to the first volume of the videographic chronicle of the life and times of one of the Imperium's greatest heroes: Lord-Captain Wilberforce Macharius veBarro."

The image of Daltian on the bridge fades as his voice continues, adopting the measured lilt of a Calixian noble.

"To receive a Warrant of Trade is the greatest honour any servant of the Emperor can provide. It was on the trade-moon of Quaddeus Minor that I was first awarded the warrant, having spent the previous six months in glorious battle against the Pirates of Barasphine-"


Utter bollocks.

That's about all you can say about the authorised videography of Lord-Captain Wilberforce Macharius veBarro. Barasphine doesn't even have pirates, and it's nowhere near Quaddeus Minor.

Wilberforce certainly did not spend his youth battling pirates and orks in the Quaddean Main. He was born a minor scion of the veBarro trade dynasty, fully nineteen steps from the dynasty's mantle. His father, Cornelius Demarii veBarro, died a regrettable death from an embarrassing plague before the boy turned one, and his mother Anophelia was a distant socialite who cared more for hive-spire soirees than for her children. As a result, he was turned out to the best and furthest-away scholariums money could buy.

On the playing fields and in the doctrinaries of Groxford, Wilbeforce mastered the art of being passable at everything and excelling at nothing. Unmemorable, unambitious, and utterly unconcerned with anything besides the maintenance of a comfortable existence, he was packed off upon graduation to Quaddeus Minor. As a minor dynastic factor, he enjoyed an untaxing life overseeing the tea plantations that covered most of the agro-world.

And he would have stayed there, if it wasn't for the improbable rediscovery of the Blancheviperre*, the long-lost frigate of the veBarro dynasty, which tumbled out of the warp near Port Wander sometime in the late August of M41.957. The rediscovery of the Blancheviperre put the veBarro dynasty in somewhat of a dilemma: while they could not afford to let such a valuable relic of the dynasty be commanded by someone not of its blood, nor did any of the prominent candidates particularly want the honour of commanding the ship. The current Warrant-Holder, Lord-Captain Jonarion Dracobane veBarro, had no direct heirs; his brothers and sisters served in profitable positions aboard the Patriach of Tanis†or its attendant fleet, and the remaining members of the family were either too old, too mad, or engaged in vital activities on the other side of the galaxy.

It was the family's aging matriarch, Lady Jezmerelda diCaprio Sandlock veBarro, who first raised the possibility of appointing Wilberforce as Captain of the Blancheviperre. Given that the women held an intense hatred for Wilberforce and his parents, it's my belief that she thought the position would be the death of him.

And so, on an reasonably warm afternoon in late spring, Lady Jezmerelda descended upon Wilberforce, who was dozing in a comfortable chair. It was at this point - not in the governor's mansion, surrounded by the skulls of his enemies, but half asleep, borne down upon by his immensely fat aunt, and surrounded by seas of entirely harmless tea trees - that Wilberforce Macharius veBarro was awarded the position of Lord-Captain and received his (delegated) Warrant of Trade.


*On the subject of the Blancheviperre, I quote from the Annals of the Astronavis Vigilum Congregatio, Callixus Chapter, Volume XXVI:

"The Blancheviperre was comissioned late in the 38th millenium by the legendary Rogue Trader, Lord-Captain Macharius Semolina veBarro. It was conceived as a deep-void exploration vessel, an adjunct to the dynasty's main vessel, the Patriarch of Tanis that could scout far and wide for trading opportunities in the Calyx Expanse. After several profitable missions into the expanse under the direct command of Lord-Captain Macharius, the Blancheviperre was placed under the command of his daughter and to-be heir, Sarina Calvacade veBarro.

Its first voyage under the command of its new captain, however, was interrupted by the declaration of the Angevin Crusade by the Praetor Golgenna Angevin. With the sector thrown into chaos and the call to war sanctioned by the High Lords of Terra themselves, Lady-Captain Sarina saw fit to attach her vessel to the war-fleet of the young general Drusus - one day to be known as St. Drusus of the Calixis Sector.

The Blancheviperre accompanied the Saint on many of his most famous campaigns across the sector, scourging and liberating dozens of worlds. It is said that the Saint himself consulted with Lady Sarina on many a campaign, often spending several nights aboard the Blancheviperre in her personal quarters to plan the extensive campaigns of conquest across the sector.

In the closing years of the Crusade, the Saint received the assistance of the Rage Thirsters space marines chapter. The main battle-barge of the Rage Thirsters was destroyed by enemy fire at the Battle of Warlax, leaving the chapter without a monastery and without the records of its own gene-seed. It was deteremined that the chapter would be declared Nullius Anxietas and the remainder of the Rage Thirsters would be charged with throwing themselves against an implaccable foe to end their chapter's history in glorious battle.

Without a vessel of their own, the Rage Thirsters asked for the assistance of Lady-Captain Sarina to deliver them to the Halo Stars, where they could end their chapter's story in battle with the foulest of xenos who lurked amongst the stars. Despite the misgivings of Saint Drusus and the express command of her father, Lady-Captain Sarina accepted the chapter's request.

The Blancheviperre charted a course through the roiling warp-storms of the Halo Stars and vanished into the void - never to be seen again."

† The Patriarch of Tanis was the main vessel of the veBarro dynasty, an immense Ramses-pattern star freighter with an attendant fleet of dozens of smaller ships.

‡ Text repeated in full:

This document (hereby known as the DELEGATED WARRANT of TRADE), by dint of dynastic pedigree, grants the bearer (hereby known as the LORD-CAPTAIN) the right and responsibility to travel beyond the borders of the GLORIOUS IMPERIUM OF MAN, to spread the LIGHT OF THE HOLY GOD-EMPEROR, to trade with XENOS MOST FOUL and to acquire profit in the SERVICE OF THE IMPERIUM.

The bearer is further enjoined to maintain and venerate a shrine to the SAINT DRUSUS aboard the vessel BLANCHEVIPERRE, to chronicle and honor all records and artifacts of the RAGE THIRSTERS (Nullus Anxietas) Astartes chapter, and to grant all possible succor and aid to the agents of HIS EXCELLENCY'S MOST HOLY INQUISTION in the defense of the Imperium.

It is to be made hereby known that in this 957th year of the 41st millenium of Man, that the Lord-Captain WILBERFORCE MACHARIUS VEBARRO is to be granted all the rights and priveleges of a ROGUE TRADER.

-P Squiggle, Esq.-

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