“Hailing Minor Amorica! … one... two… Hailing Minor Amorica! … We request aid immediately! - alert Adeptus Astartes! We have received damage during warp travel… something from the immaterium has slain our navigator… we fear… demon manifestations on board… many have been killed… alert Adeptus……”
Von Haust frowned as he peered at the date signature of the message. It was 10 years old. There was not a doubt in von Haust’s mind that there was not a living soul left aboard the prodigal vessel. Immediately the Ordos Xenos were alerted, and the Commander himself led four teams of well equipped space-marines together with a famous HQ of the Ordos Xenos – Inquisitor Leamonn Forochel.
Not long after the investigation started, the Storm Fortress was declared a ghost ship. Not a single living soul remained and there was absolutely no sign of any invasion. The vessel was docked in orbit around Minor Amorica as, at the request of a paranoid von Haust, the inquisition began a deeper investigation. It took many months to investigate each and every deck to the small minutiae of every detail. Eventually after three months of the inquiry of the prodigal ship, a discovery was made by Deallus Torm, Forochel’s prized seer of parallel events. She has said that she had tapped into malevolent spirit energy of the mind of the Storm Fortresses navigator – one called Grey Annalena – and was through a vision, saw the location of the dead crew members of the forgotten ship. The captain, the navigator, tech-engineers and priests, as well as about one hundredth of the of the entire passenger and crew roster were all found in a tangled mass of burnt and fused flesh in an unused auxiliary warp engine. The engine was found in a hidden chamber only accessible via the arterial cooling tunnels.
The discovery was a great success for the inquisition and the imperial guardsman, von Haust. The mystery of the Storm Fortress was soon, by necessity, hidden from the public eye, and only the fearful whispers of the ghost ship that was caught in the chaotic clutches immaterial for ten years were remained. As for the other ninety-nine percent of the missing crew and passengers, nothing was said, and soon the Ordos Xenos left the job of searching the massive vessel for more pressing matters such as the sudden appearance of an invading Ork force in the jungles of Minor Amorica.
One year after von Haust had heard that incoming transmission from the Storm Fortress, he had a fateful visit from the psycher Grey Anallena. The morning after an evening deep in discussion with the seer, von Haust called off the reparation and reclamation crews from the Storm Fortress and alone, he entered the city sized space-craft. For two days, he followed a set of directions given to him by the seer, when eventually he found a one-way sealable airlock, a service room used by the lowly cleaners, quite close to the main arterial cooling tunnels. Being prepared, von Haust cut open the hatch with hand held melta.
The entrance led to a storage facility which had seemingly been sealed in the event of some hazardous disaster. In it, he found several bed cots, and crates upon crates of supplies and rations. As von Haust moved through the vaulted area, he became aware, that there was someone else in the room with him, and he proceeded carefully around a stacked pile of plast-iron crates. Rounding, the edge, von Haust halted suddenly. On a bed cot lay two corpses, one male one female – both in workers scrubs and both already quite decayed. “They are my parents…” von Haust raised his hand melta at the direction of the high pitched voice, a scrawny bald headed and ill-dressed worker boy, no more than eight years of age, he presumed, emerged from another cot. “They didn’t go away like the others… are you here to rescue me?”
Von Haust knew what he was getting into; he never did like the psykers - but why did he listen to Grey then? He could have ignored her otherwise nutty prediction and left the child to die like its parents. Now he would have to call in the black ships. But the commander’s own curiosity of the strange vessel that arrived at his star-port pressed him to quench his questions:
“Wollsey, sir, thank you for the…”
“Quite lad, you’ll speak when you’re spoken to under my watch, understand? You are nothing more than gutter rubbish. Now how did you say your parents died?”
“Yes this sickness - can you describe this… sickness to me?”
“Sometimes, one of parents got very angry – like a scary monster, sometimes both of them. They told me it was sickness.”
“Did they kill each other?”
“I was very scared, I always ran away into my hole…”
“Answer my question, boy!”
“It was long ago, they were… dead for a long time.”
Yes, for more than six years, as my private doctors can tell, thought Haust.
“Yes, but not you boy, you lived.”
Indeed, this was the last known survivor of the Missing Storm Fortress.
“Tell me, what happened before your parents died - can you remember?”
“We all ran away, my dad said we must go to a safe place, he said that the other people were going away, they were getting taken away to be… evil. I… They also killed some of those people too”
“Who boy? Who killed the other people?”
“My dad, and my mom.”
“You are a lucky boy, to have been protected by your parents in such circumstances.”
Yes, but why – god emperor, why? Was this… Wollsey to be protected so? What was his value in this sudden incursion of chaos? Has his latent psychic power made him as immune to such corruptions as befell his parents? Perhaps he has seen more than he is able to tell or describe. In any event he has survived on his own in a supply vault for about five years alone and nine in total if I include the time before the deaths of his parents.
Grey Annalena has gotten me into something over my head here, blast that psycher! I could have had the Black Ships on their way here for him within a week but no - I’m told to lie low with this one. Ah curse every demon in the warp! This burdensome child is candidate for sanctioning and only the Ordos Xenos and I know of his tormented past. But why I have to be his designated warder escapes me…
“Okay young Wollsey, I am Commander Remo von Haust. I will be looking after you for some time now, so you must abide by my every rule and never misbehave or you will see real anger. I will see to it that you receive a decent education and a career path in the military. Once you have given me your thanks, you may take your leave.”
“Uh… thank you sir…”