Motivated by rumors that Sarvus Rook was interested in an old ship that recently reappeared out of warp, the team decided to investigate the ship themselves, and to distract Rook with a nice bit of subterfuge.
As a distraction, Seneschal Mattox talked to Felix, his contact with the miner’s guild. Felix pointed him to another miner’s guild member, who Mattox bribed into carrying a coded, counterfeit message from the Xandov house saying that they’d found the old Chorda passage.
It seemed that Rook did not take the bait, however, since he suddenly took off, ostensibly towards the space hulk. Skull Commander Malcolms gave the command to ready the ship and launch; three days later, Pandora’s Skull set out from Footfall.
The ship made it to the system’s edge, and then into warp, without incident. After some time in warp, the alarms went off, and Astropath Gailen was overwhelmed by warp energies. Echo checked the sensors: it appeared another ship with near Pandora’s Skull and closing fast. It was many times the size of the Skull and records suggested that it was an ancient Imperial ship from before the Horus Heresy. Malcolms tried to hail the ship, but got nothing but mad screaming in response.
The leviathan brought its weapons to bear.
“Get us out of warp!” Malcolms commanded the Navigator. But the Navigator couldn’t find a safe place to drop out.
The ships exchanged fire. As expected, the Skull took the worst of it. The mysterious ship was preparing a final volley when the Navigator found the exit, took it, and Pandora’s Skull escaped into real space—where it was discovered to be unharmed. Except for the ammunition that had been fired, it was as if the encounter with the phantom ship had never happened.
After steeling the nerves of the crew, and getting a fix on the hulk via Gailen’s psychic senses, the ship entered warp once more, and arrived at the hulk’s location.
The derelict ship was confirmed to be the Malicious, part of Chorda’s fleet that went missing some 30 years earlier. Gailen reported nothing but psychic screams of madness from its astropath, and hailing it got nothing but static, and a faint voice saying that the incoming transmission (from the Skull) was just another trick of madness. The port side of the ship showed a horrendous gash, but there was power and atmosphere in most of the ship.
Giving up any further thought of talking with the obviously-insane crew of the Malicious, the team put together an away shuttle consisting of the PCs and 20 troopers. Two more shuttles, each full of troopers, stayed back to serve as reinforcements in case things went poorly.
The shuttle landed in the bay without incident. The bay was deserted, though a trooper with a scanner reported huddled life forms in the engine room (aft) and bridge (fore). Torque assigned three troopers to defend the shuttle, and the team headed for the bridge. As the team made their way, Torque dropped off three pairs of troopers at key intersections to ensure that they weren’t ambushed from behind. They were to remain in radio contact on a regular basis.
Gailen sensed that the psychic screaming was coming from the bridge, probably from the ship’s astropath. He also sensed the warp seeping into the ship, and a demonic presence. Echo felt something too, and was reluctant to continue on towards the bridge, but the Mattox convinced him to move forward.
Gunfire erupted behind the team. Torque called for a status report: one of the pairs of troopers had been “slashed to ribbons” – presumably by demons. Torque ordered the other four troopers to join those at the shuttle, and to secure the shuttle at all costs. The rest of the troopers accompanied the captain’s crew as they made their way ever-closer to the chaos-infested bridge of the Malicious...