Rogue Trader (2009): The Emperor’s Undiminished Enthusiasm 3: The Legend of Larry’s Rak’Gold

In the previous adventures of Rogue Trader George Larrinicus Davidoff and his cruiser the Emperor’s Undiminished Enthusiasm, Larry and his crew investigated a distress call from a remote Mechanicus research station on the edge of the Alenic Depths only to find the station destroyed. A lone survivor explained that brutal aliens attacked the station and stole the experimental warp drives the Mechanicus was developing. Larry and his crew managed to track an intense radiation trail away from the station and navigated the warp in order to ambush the enemy when they arrived. Unfortunately, the Emperor’s Undiminished Enthusiasm discovered an armed alien space station and multiple warships and had to fight just to survive. Having won a narrow victory, Larry and his crew make preparations to board a disabled Rak’Gol destroyer to investigate their technology.

Steve: When we last left you were boarding the Rak’Gol ship you had disabled earlier.

Zack: Right, under protest.

Zack: And with like 100% of my boarding commandos.

Zack: Because Larry does not go over to some alien ship without overwhelming force.

Steve: The Rak’Gol vessel is disabled, no power or weapons, many of the compartments breached into space, others burning.

Steve: Enthusiasm is able to carefully maneuver close to the enemy ship and use aimed shots from cannons to soften up the landing zones.

Zack: Let’s not soften them up too much. I don’t want the whole ship falling apart when we are trying to salvage it.

Steve: A few careful blasts from your guns preparing landing zones for your boarding ships. Your arch-militant Elaine oversees loading her entire contingent of boarding commandos into various assault boats, freight movers, cargo tugs, and basically like Dunkirk but all of your ship’s little craft are needed to ferry everybody over in one go.

Zack: I assume Larry has a gold-plated lander where the interior looks like a French brothel or something.

Zack: Injecting absinthe into my skull to make me properly receptive to the dreamlike fugue of combat.

Steve: What are your weapons?

Zack: Master crafted bolt pistol and a power sword.

Zack: Also the commandos who are riding in my ship are like the best of the best.

Steve: Yeah, sure, you have ten elite commandos with you, Elaine, and Greg, your Adeptus Mechanicus guy. They are all in sealed carapace armor and carrying hellguns except for Elaine has a bolter and Greg is just dressed normally.

Zack: Because he’s like a skull robot in a bath robe?

Steve: Right. More of a red monk robe, but otherwise spot on. He has a huge axe and a bunch of extra mechanical arms coming out of his back, some of which probably shoot lasers.

Zack: This whole thing is for his benefit. I hope he’s bringing some of his crew over to check this ship out.

Steve: Yeah, various techpriests and engineseers are joining the various combat teams that are going to spread out through the ship.

Zack: Not going to spread out too much. I already told you, I am not ending up in a situation where I am outnumbered by these murder aliens.

Steve: The hangars of Enthusiasm open up to the void and dozens of small ships lift off. Your golden transport is among them, crossing the debris-littered void to the crippled Rak’Gol warship.

Steve: Your pilot searches for a good landing site.

Zack: “Maybe circle the block a few times. Look for a really good spot to open up. I hate walking in this part of town.”

Steve: “Yes, my lord,” says the pilot, interpreting your neurotic nonsense as instructions to land near the ship’s damaged command bridge.

Zack: I am having this guy executed so violently when we get back to my ship.

Steve: Your transport lands in the decompressed wreckage of a deck, magnetic locks engaging as the pilot expertly sets the ship down.

Zack: Well, that’s his job, so I’m not going to tip.

Steve: The hatches open silently and you exit the ship into the void as your team breaches the sealed compartment of the vessel with a melta charge.

Zack: “You guys go in first. I will secure the, uh, the back part. Out here.”

Steve: Your commandos go in through the venting atmosphere and are greeted by wild volleys of gunfire. Your men move into the ship, your vox crackling with terse commands and the strobing light of hellgun fire visible through the breach in the hull.

Zack: “Elaine, you should go in there and have a look.”

Steve: “Yes, my lord,” she says, heading into the breach.

Zack: Looking over at Greg while we wait for Elaine and the commandos to handle things. “So how are you doing? How is the, uh, the family?”

Steve: “I am at 97.6% efficiency, my lord,” says Greg. “My family were all killed by Eldar pirates almost a century ago. I exist to serve the Omnissiah.”

Zack: “When someone asks how you are doing they just want you to say ‘fine’ or something like that.”

Steve: “I am fine, my lord.”

Zack: See? What that so hard?

Steve: “It was not difficult to communicate this information to you.”

Zack: I am definitely executing this guy with the pilot of the transport.

Steve: Elaine’s voice crackles over the vox. “My lord, we have cleared the area.”

Zack: Reluctantly heading inside.

Steve: The interior of the Rak’Gol ship is a total dump. Literally a garbage dump, with heaps of weird trophies, useless tech junk, tribal totems, bones, and debris from damage to the ship.

Zack: Space hoarder house?

Steve: Pretty much.

Zack: I’m a bit of a germophobe so I try not to touch anything.

Steve: Three large, reptilian-seeming creatures with four legs and four arms lie dead on the floor. Holes are blasted in them from hellguns. They are heavily cybernetic and equipped with some sort of crude slug weapons.

Zack: I am definitely not touching those.

Steve: One of your commandos was killed in hand-to-hand combat. The aliens apparently have wickedly sharp blades built into their bodies. You can’t tell if it is bone or cybernetic.

Steve: Elaine says, “We have found the entry point to the bridge, my lord. It is sealed.”

Zack: Can we blow our way in?

Zack: And by “we” I mean “them first.”

Steve: Your commandos are using a large melta burner to cut their way through the reinforced hatch and onto the bridge.

Steve: While they are doing that, Greg is analyzing the bodies.

Zack: “I feel like there should be more squads of commandos up here. Anybody else? More commandos?”

Steve: “The bridge is heavily damaged, my lord. Our auspex shows only a single lifeform present.”

Zack: “Sure, but I bet it’s not a normal lifeform. It’s like a boss lifeform. It’s always a boss lifeform on the bridge.”

Steve: The commandos have nearly burned through to the bridge. While they are working, you continue to receive reports from other teams of boarding commandos. Although the Rak’Gol clearly suffered catastrophic casualties, they are still fighting viciously.

Zack: How many of my men have died?

Steve: You’ve lost about 30 men so far killed and about twice that injured and being sent back to the ship. There are pockets of resistance all over the wreck. Every other chamber turns out to have a few Rak’Gol marauders inside ready to die.

Zack: “Coming here was a really good idea, Greg. Have your skeleton nerds at least found something useful?”

Steve: “All knowledge is useful and there is much to be found here.”

Zack: “Not all knowledge, Greg. Two words: surprise parties.”

Steve: “I do not like surprise parties, my lord.”

Zack: “Nobody does, Greg. Nobody. Which is why they are mandatory on my ship.”

Steve: Elaine interrupts, “My lord, we are about to breach through to the bridge.”

Zack: Readying my bolt pistol and sword. “Lead the way.”

Steve: The bridge is finally breached with a last hiss of escaping air. The commandos climb through the torn blast door and past the spreading puddle of molten metal.

Steve: The bridge is dark and silent. A few red indicators blink on the crude consoles the Rak’Gol use. There are several dead crew members, mostly burned or crushed by pieces of the bridge that seem to have collapsed from above. Hundreds of cables hang from the ruptured ceiling. Shoulder lamps on the commandos play back and forth over wreckage which is almost indistinguishable from the normal junk piled up on the ship.

Zack: Staying well behind the commandos. “Where is the lifeform?”

Steve: “It’s hard to get an accurate reading, my lord,” says the lead commando.

Zack: “Ah, don’t worry about it then. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

Steve: Yeah, right as you say it, gunfire flashes on full auto. Shots strobe on the bridge and you see your commandos crumpling as they are gunned down. Scarlet las fire flashes in return. In the span of a few seconds, most of your commandos have been killed or seriously injured.

Zack: Great. This isn’t like the exact thing I was warning about this whole time.

Zack: “If we get out of this alive, I am executing you, Elaine.”

Steve: Roll initiative.

Zack: 6+1 so 7.

Steve: Order is going to be one of your commandos, Elaine, the Rak’Gol Techno Shaman, you, the other commando, and then Greg.

Zack: Greg is getting double-executed.

Zack: Wait, you mentioned fate points. How many do I have?

Steve: Four. You can use one to get a 10 initiative roll.

Zack: Doing that.

Steve: Alright, you go first this round.

Zack: Do I see the Rak’Gol?

Steve: Yes. He has actually moved out from behind cover, abandoning the heavy gun he used to kill most of your commandos and wielding some sort of weapon with glowing crystals.

Zack: Am I close enough to charge?

Steve: Yep.

Zack: Weapon Skill is my highest statistic so I am charging this magic crystal guy.

Steve: Charging adds 10 to your WS.

Zack: So I have 51.

Steve: Holy moly. You might actually hit. Make your attack roll under that on a percentile.

Zack: 16.

Steve: That’s a hit. The Rak’Gol is going to try to parry your power sword with his staff.

Steve: And he definitely did not succeed with a 93.

Steve: I’m going to say he brings his staff down as you leap up at him in your charge. Your blade cleaves through his staff and there is a bright flash of energy as you destroy his weapon.

Zack: Nice.

Steve: Give me damage d10+5.

Zack: 6 so 11 damage.

Steve: Even with your sword’s penetration he is still going to soak up two points of that damage so 9 damage.

Zack: And he’s dead, right?

Steve: Not even close. You slash a scorching line into his shoulder and neck. He tosses aside his broken weapon and lifts two projectile weapons in his lower set of arms.

Zack: That was supposed to be a heroic moment of triumph. I blame Elaine and Greg for ruining this with their bad luck.

Steve: One of your commandos fires and misses because you are in hand to hand combat with the Rak’Gol.

Zack: “Don’t try to blame this on me, dumbass. I wouldn’t be in here hacking it with a sword if you guys had done your job.”

Steve: Elaine charges in beside you, swinging her chain sword at the Rak’Gol.

Steve: And she hits, but only deals 3 more damage because of his armor.

Zack: At least she tried.

Steve: The Rak’Gol is attacking with a psychic attack.

Zack: This is nice. Great job, Greg.

Steve: With a sream of pure psychic force, you and Elaine are struck with a wave of agony. Your armor ruptures in several places and your flesh splits open, spilling blood inside your power armor. You bleed from your nose and mouth and take 10 wounds of damage as the wave passes over you.

Zack: That’s a lot.

Steve: The other commando fires, hits, and does no damage to the Rak’Gol. Greg charges in and swings his power axe.

Zack: I’m counting on you, Greg.

Steve: And he misses.

Zack: Worthless. Triple execution, Greg.

Steve: New initiative. Roll them.

Zack: 4+1 so 5.

Steve: The good news is you get to go third.

Steve: The bad news is the Rak’Gol is going first.

Zack: Bring it. I can handle whatever he has for me.

Steve: He is going to fire two heavy stubbers at you.

Steve: Missing with one. Hitting with the other.

Zack: Can I dodge?

Steve: You can throw yourself out of the way, but succeed or fail it will cost you your action.

Zack: I have power armor. This thing can’t possibly do enough damage to crack that open.

Steve: 14.

Zack: Uh.

Zack: Okay, I am 1 wound over my top. Am I dead?

Steve: No, you took a critical damage. Let’s check what location and what happens.

Steve: Left arm. And an 8. You might be dead. Let me look at the critical damage table.

Zack: Well, at least I died doing what I loved: complaining about my idiotic subordinates.

Steve: “The force of the attack takes the arm off just below the shoulder, showering blood and gore across the ground.” You have to make a toughness test or die from shock.

Zack: So I have to roll under a 38?

Steve: Right.

Zack: 36.

Steve: You are stunned for 6 rounds and take 3 levels of fatigue. You also suffer from blood loss.

Steve: And now you have one arm.

Zack: So I guess I’m not going next?

Steve: You are stunned. Elaine goes next and once again just barely chips away at the Rak’Gol’s damage.

Steve: One of the commandos is going to run up and drag you away from the combat.

Steve: The other commando shoots with his hellgun and manage to do a few more points of damage to the Rak’Gol.

Zack: Is this thing almost dead?

Steve: It has definitely taken damage, but it is still fighting furiously.

Steve: Greg’s turn. Swinging his glowing omnissiah axe. Barely hits.

Steve: Rolls a 10 and gets a righteous fury attempt.

Steve: Succeeds with a second hit, barely again.

Steve: Holy crap, another 10.

Steve: Missed on the second Righteous Fury attempt.

Zack: So what the fuck just happened?

Steve: The emperor or the omnissiah or something possessed Greg. He seems to glow as he swings his power axe three times rapidly at the Rak’Gol. The first does enough damage to inflict a critical hit. The second is all critical damage.

Zack: Greg not being useless? This must be a total Jacob’s Ladder scenario as I collapse dying to the ground.

Steve: First critical is to the body and a 5. Greg’s axe hacks a huge, smoking hole in the Rak’Gol’s chest. It drops to its knees, screeching with agony. His second blow falls upon its head like an executioner’s swing.

Steve: 9. “Superheated by the attack, the target’s brain explodes, tearing apart his skull and sending flaming chunks of meat flying at those nearby.”

Zack: “That cancels two of your executions out, Greg.”

Steve: Greg is very pleased with himself. As you are dragged to safety, you hear him start dictating analysis of the fallen Rak’Gol captain.

Zack: So am I out of the game or what?

Steve: Oh, no, they ferry you back to your ship and you will be up and at ’em in a couple hours with some painkillers, skin grafts, and a cybernetic arm. The medicae apologizes, “Sorry, my lord, we only have this fairly basic model. When we return to port, I would be happy to attach the finest arm available.”

Zack: I want one with a plasma gun built into it.

Steve: You have about 6 hours before the Rak’Gol fleet arrives in the system. What do you want to do?

Zack: I want Greg and his dudes to get the engines working on the Rak’Gol ship and to pack the thing full of explosives. We’re going to IED their fleet when it arrives.

Steve: What about the station?

Zack: I will just sit at long range and shoot it with torpedoes until it is destroyed.

Steve: Fair enough. Exhausting half your compliment of torpedoes, you manage to lay waste to the Rak’Gol space fortress. It breaks apart, venting gas and spilling bodies into the void.

Steve: Greg manages to get the ship working and loaded with explosives. He assigns a detachment of engineseers to operate the vessel at your command.

Zack: Sort of a suicide squad?

Steve: Yes only they are all the guy who was good at climbing things.

Zack: Alright. Here is what I want to do.

Zack: Fly over to where the station was and shut down Enthusiasm’s systems so it looks like we are crippled and drifting. Then I want to place the Rak’Gol ship near us, but not too near. Like it has managed to defeat us.

Steve: This broken destroyer defeated you?

Zack: It only has to fool them long enogh to explode.

Steve: Alright. The preparations are made, the ships maneuver into position, and you stand on your bridge watching as there is a strange flash and four Rak’Gol cruisers jump into the system.

Zack: Starting the destroyer towards them! Four, dang.

Steve: The destroyer gets about halfway between you and the Rak’Gol and the Rak’Gol realize something is amiss. They start shooting at the destroyer.

Zack: As soon as it is close enough to hit a couple of them I want it to blow itself up.

Steve: Seeming to sense this is a fire ship, the Rak’Gol desperately fire lance blasts and cannons at it, damaging it terribly as they try to turn out of its path. Somehow, the crippled destroyer limps along. It gets just close enough and detonates. The huge sphere of fire is enough to destroy one of the cruisers and damage a second.

Zack: Well, now it’s even odds, right?

Steve: What are you doing? They are at long range and in a bad position for the moment.

Zack: Powering up and firing a full spread of torpedoes at the best target.

Steve: The damaged cruiser won’t be able to escape your torpedoes. But even as your torpedoes streak towards the Rak’Gol ship, the other two maneuver to bring their lance weapons to bear. You know Enthusiasm will be doomed.

Zack: “Go ahead and add an execution back to the total for getting us into this mess, Greg.”

Steve: “Yes, my lord.”

Zack: Instead of going for a broadside, let’s go right at the two of them. We’ll try to soak up the damage, go between them, and hit them both with broadsides as we fly between.

Steve: They are going to get basically four unchallenged lance attacks on your ship as you drive straight at them.

Zack: “At least it’s a plan!”

Steve: The first lance shots strike your forward void shields, bringing them down.

Zack: Greg, put all of our void shields to the front you dumbass. What do you think we’re doing.

Steve: He restores your forward void shields by redirecting all power from the rear and side shields to the front. This soaks up the second round of scouring, flaring lance fire from the Rak’Gol ships. You are gaining speed and so are they, heading right for each other.

Zack: Can I fire torpedoes?

Steve: You can try, but you are unlikely to hit with them.

Zack: Don’t bother. Up at my command pulpit addressing the ship, “Everybody on the gun decks. Uh, you have one chance to save the ship. So, make it work. Let’s do this. No ‘I’ in team, etcetera.”

Steve: A third round of lance battery fire melts the armor on the prow of your ship and partly misses you. You have never approached another ship at such a high velocity, let alone an enemy vessel like this. The Rak’Gol seem just as eager to pour on the speed, their engine glowing brightly with radiation.

Zack: “Get ready guys. There’s, uh, you know what? You know your jobs. You don’t need me yakking at you.”

Steve: The Rak’Gol ships are huge in your screens. Their lances open fire, scouring Enthusiasm’s prow with atomic fire. Compartments buckle. The torpedo tubes are destroyed. Fire boils through deck after deck, incinerating hundreds. Your long range sensors are destroyed. Your forward void shield array is reduced to slag.

Zack: But we thread the needle, right?

Steve: Yes, Enthusiasm endures the massive damage, soaking it into its forward sections, but continues on between the Rak’Gol ships. A maelstrom of point blank fire opens up going in both directions. Your huge macro cannons inflict massive damage to both Rak’Gol ships, but in turn your vessel’s flanks are devastated. Your ship is nearly crippled. Your gun strength is reduced by 50% and both Rak’Gol ships, though heavily damaged, are beginning slow, wide turns to come about and finish you off with their good sides.

Steve: Worst of all, your engines are badly damaged. You cannot warp out and you cannot outrun them.

Zack: “Well, I want to say it was a good run, guys. But it wasn’t. It was a lousy run and most of you are assholes.”

Steve: Suddenly, the void opens up as the immaterium disgorges a massive ship as large as any cruiser. There is no mistaking the symbols on the blue liveried vessel: it is a battle barge of the Ultramarines! It is followed out of warp by a half-dozen frigates and destroyers in escort.

Steve: A voice booms over your comms, “Rogue Trader Davidoff. We are here to purge the xenos scum.”

Zack: “Well, I mean I had already beaten them, but go ahead and finish them off if you would like to take all the credit.”

Steve: The Rak’Gol try to break off their attack, but it is too late. Their momentum carries them right into range of the Ultramarines and their ships are both crippled in under a minute. One begins to break apart and the other, drifting darkly for several minutes, suddenly explodes in a massive reactor detonation with unusual streaks of blue light through the flames.

Zack: “I did it again. Glory to the Emperor!”

Steve: Greg reminds you, “Actually, my lord, the experimental warp drives were probably on that ship that just exploded. So you did not accomplish the primary objective.”

Zack: “Two more executions, Greg.”

Steve: Greg is right that you lost a fortune on this outing. Repairing you flagship will take two years and enough money to reduce your profits considerably. You recovered information and some dead bodies, some lame tech, and some weird crystals. It doesn’t offset the expense. You’ve also burned a favor with the Ultramarines who will now be less likely to come and help you.

Zack: I’ll have to make small freight runs for a while. Hauling things.

Zack: Like oats. From Oatworld II.