Sword & Spoken Word

Private Journal of Harlan Autumnhall #7

Dear Anastasia,

I’m late in writing this, but it’s turning over in my mind, and I cannot sleep.

I’ve been to the Edge, and looked out across the Void, at cold clear stars far beyond our reach.

It’s strange… the Maw is no different from anywhere else, in the fabric of real space. The Nails has excellent telescopic gear, anciently manufactured in the workshops of Mars. mounted high on the great dome. I looked across the Void, and saw… nothing. Clear space and distant stars burning.

It is only in the churning chaos of the Warp that the way is blocked.

Point your prow at the Rifts of Hecaton, burn your engines at crushing acceleration, and in a thousand years or ten, you will be there, safe from warptides, heedless of Terra’s dwindling beacon. But those thousands of years block us just as effectively as the churning of the Warp.

The ancient flame of Rune seems so close that I could almost pluck it from the lens, cup its light within my hands.

Sometimes our very powers cripple us, leaving us shackled to whatever shortcut or ease they furnished us with.

I came here to seek my fortune, not in golden Thrones, but in some sort of place, something to be if I cannot be what I was. And there are thrones enough here within reach, of gold and glory both. Perhaps I will somehow be able to unpick the impossible knot, reclaim what I was, hear your voice again. Few things are impossible to a man with freedom, power, and time.

So why risk it all for… what?

An uncertain map to the unknown? With no promise for the end, but the uncertain observation that others desired it? A tiny point of brilliance a thousand lightyears away?

But that point in the telescope pulls at me. If I go here, if the map is true, if I and my crew survive the fickle Warp and a thousand dangers of voyaging beyond the great beacon’s light, I will be the first human to see it close. I will have traveled further from humanity’s cradle than any man in recorded history.

Have I caught the explorer’s disease? Is this what drives men into the black? The simple burning need to know what is there, to see it?

My Navigatrix says this can be done.

Private Journal of Harlan Autumnhall, #6

Dear Anastasia,

The man Phineas Ardentus is a guest aboard my ship. At least, that’s what he thinks. Trouble is, now that I have him, I’m not sure I want to give him up. I don’t quite know why.

Lyra is soft-hearted and doesn’t want his kids to lose him. Maybe it’s that.

But father would have said that one does not destroy a resource that may be of further use unless it becomes a liability.

And I’m guessing there with a good percentage of father in whatever mix they…. no, won’t say that. Not even here. I never told the real you, and I’m not about to commit it to paper.

But I’ve got him, and I’ll figure something out, I suppose.

Anyway, I’m on Footfall (that’s the station on the far side of the passage out of Imperial space), and a fellow Rogue Trader named Seldan Forsellis wants my help rooting out some Orks who are threatening his colonies. Thing is, I’m not sure it’s Orks. Might be a trap.

For him.

I’m not sure I can commit my men to battle this soon. They are slightly underequipped, and haven’t had the kind of training time really necessary to forge them into a cohesive fighting force.

They are ex-convicts from the ass end of space, tough as a Space Marine’s boots. But they are not trained to fight as a unit. I have ex-Imperial Guard, I have ex-Navy, I have a Sergeant at Arms who scares the most hardened convicts, and a Master at Arms who scares even him. I’ve beaten them black and blue with training swords, earned their respect. They’re working hard.

But it’s not enough time. This is training. Teambuilding. Not miracles. No magic.

I’m not strong yet. Not even as strong as when I had a Navy frigate in my pocket on Heptapyrgion. I have the metal, but I will need more time to beat it into a sword.

I will be have to be smart about this.



Report of Por'Vre Sa'cea Harish

Aun’el Ho’sarn Zen’zeramacht:

Your instructions have been carried out.

The {Thief Merchant? Seller of Brigands?} Har’lan Au’tum’hal has been gifted with a Hunter Cadre of four-eights Shas and several engineers. {Boots of the Warrior Caste?} has accompanied them as a {Gifter of Tongues?}.

Each has its instructions, according to its duty.

In answer to Your query, I do not think we can assume the Har’lan is wholly {naive? oblivious? unenlightened?}

It is powerful in a society where selfish {untranslatable, resembles the number "1"} engage in destructive struggles. It will believe we have hidden motives and goals. But it will not know what they are.

- Por’Vre Sa’cea Harish

Por’Vre Sa’cea Harish:

Our victory is inevitable. Its very acceptance of Our offer is the victory of the Greater Good which We desired. It implicitly admits by this action that the benefits of cooperation outweigh the risks.

It will spread this truth within the hu’mans. The other tasks are useful, but unnecessary if this victory is achieved.

- Aun’el Ho’sarn Zen’zeramacht

Intercepted Intelligence Report


While my role is to report facts, not to analyze them, I fear that from the tenor of your most recent instructions, I may have failed to convey my previous observations in such a way as to make the implications clear.

I am neither placed to examine the… special… components of the Take The Nails, Too , nor trained to make any sense of what I might see.

This is not necessary.

I sent you the transcript of what Lord Autumnhall said to the Tau. This is explanation enough, if we look carefully.

It was no idle boast, what he said. The man is a master swordsman of almost inhuman skill. He defeated a genestealer in close combat. Even with that Astartes Deathwatch Marine standing next to him, he may well have been the deadliest man in that room. And one must understand his answer to the question in light of that.

When he said that the gun may have range, but a fight does not always start at range, that is all we need to know. Harlan Autumnhall is a man who trusts himself, trusts his skills, not tools or firepower. He is a man who wishes to be close to his enemy, to overpower him with his skill, his speed, his ferocity.

And so it will be with his craft. Whatever it was that made it disappear from the Navy’s augur, this thing is not for fleeing, nor for hiding. It is for striking from the range of a blade.

- Your Watchful Eye

Transcription: 6th Autumnhall Investiture Triumph
The Words of Cardinal Torasi Ignato

Faithful souls, we are gathered here on this day to bear witness to the ascension of a holy herald and emissary of our most Divine Lord. We pray that the Emperor grant gravity to his voice, righteousness to his insights, and strength to his hand.

Sir Harlan Thaddeus Autumnhall, the first of your name, Lord of Aquitaine and faithful servant of The Emperor – are you willing to take the oath?

Resp: I am willing.

Act: The claimant is anointed with blessed oil.

Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the realms you claim in the name of The Emperor?

Resp: I do so swear.

Will you, to your power, cause law and justice in piety to be executed in all of your judgments?

Resp: I will.

Will you maintain the laws of The God-Emperor and the true profession of His Gospel?

Resp: I will.

Will you maintain and preserve, inviolably, the settlement of His Church, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in His Lex Imperialis?

Resp: I will.

Our gracious Emissary, to keep Your Eminence ever mindful of the law and Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Imperial Servants, we present you with this book, the most valuable wisdom that this world affords. Here, within, is Divine Enlightenment.

Act: The Lex Imperialis is given to the anointed.

Behold, O Emperor, our seeker, and look upon the face of Thine anointed. For one day in Thy courts is better than a thousand in darkness.

Almighty Emperor, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts with righteous fire, that we may perfectly serve Thee, and worthily magnify Thy Holy Name.

Let us pray.

O Emperor, who providest for thy people by thy power, and rulest over them in stern discipline, grant unto this Thy servant Harlan Thaddeus Autumnhall the spirit of wisdom and government – that being devoted unto Thee with his whole heart he may so wisely govern – that in his time, by sword and spoken word, Thy Church shall prosper by the blood of its enemies, and Imperial devotion may continue – and that so persevering in Your Righteous Wrath unto the end, he may by Thy fury come into Thy everlasting domain.


Brother Bartram's Call to Righteousness, Special Edition

After months of cancellations and reschedulings, our petitions were ignored, and the Scurrilous Heretic Lord Harlan Autumnhall was permitted to cavort under the eyes of the good people of Hive Tarsus and of the God Emperor Himself, reveling in his temporary victory.

But despair not, brothers! The justice of the Holy God Emperor will always come to pass. Our Faith may be tested by this trial, but we shall continue to fight the good fight and we shall prevail!

For your humble servant has gathered, from this blasphemous event, new evidence of fresh crimes against decency, morality, and the Holy God Emperor. Yes, your humble brother and faithful servant of the Holy God Emperor did risk his very soul to serve the cause of righteousness, and attended this wicked gathering himself, in the guise of a servant.

Fear not, your brother will scourge himself free of sin in a holy penance for having stood in proximity to such evil without cleansing it with fire.

But in addition to his past wickednesses, the Heretic Harlan Autumnhall is now guilty in that he:

- Did give at his inauguration a most wicked speech, scoffing at the virtues of decency, morality, chastity, and honor, even as he most blasphemously claimed to serve the God Emperor, whose holy name should not ever be blackened by the unclean tongue of such a sinner.

- Did conspire with other lewd and wanton individuals among the idle rich to commit the sin of dancing, which promotes lasciviousness and occasions lewd and unchaste desires.

- Did serve to his guests intoxicating drugs and liqueurs, which tempt men to revel in enjoyment of their own lives, rather than in service to the God Emperor.

- Did place on the display the bones of vile tyranids, secretly for the purpose of worshiping them, while covering his sin by claiming slain as war trophies, slain with his own hand. (A transparent lie… they are both enemies of the Emperor, and therefore allies to each other.)

- Did openly consort with the unclean xenos, in the corrupt and polluted form of two “tau representatives”, which were not only suffered to attend the inaugural reception, but actually welcomed as “honored guests”!

- Did in some vile fashion, not yet clear to your servant, force the representative of the Most Holy Inquisition, and his ally, a pious and sacred knight of the most righteous Adeptus Astartes, to act as escorts and protectors for these xenos abominations, rather than striking them down on the spot with righteous fury for their sin of existing in the Emperor’s universe.

- Did wickedly promote and engage in all manner of sinful revels, unpious celebration, and other enjoyments which make men unmindful of their duty to the God Emperor.

- Did incite his crude and brutal servants to cast your brother out as an “impostor”, thereby not only obstructing him from his righteous duties in gathering intelligence on the enemies of The Most Holy Master of Mankind, but also inflicting painful and unrighteous bruises upon his nether parts.

No, good brothers and sisters, your friend Brother Bartram is no imposter. It is the vile Harlan Autumnhall who is the imposter, posing as a servant of the Emperor, when in reality he is the vilest of selfish sinners, possibly an unclean sorceror and worshipper of xenos abominations and the Ruinous Powers themselves, who listens to dark and evil whispers from the Warp!

And on the day when the righteous cast this villain down, Brother Bartram shall be there, to call due an account for these crimes, and for the most unnecessary bruising of his hindmost parts.


Shall I have this one sorted out, my lord?
- Ulrich Malmstein

Certainly not. Silencing lunatics just draws attention to them. If we ever need to get rid of him, we’ll have servants leak even more ridiculous accusations for him to print, and let him get laughed off Hive Tarsus.

Foxxy Roxxy's Juciy Tidbits, Special Edition

That’s right boys and girls, after months of cancellations and reschedulings, the big par-tay you’ve all been waiting for finally happened for realz…

… And guess who scored a guest pass!

That’s right, your girl Roxxy here with the inside scoop on the HAWTTEST event of the season, and Oh. My. God. Emperor. is there ever an inside to scoop!

We all knew Harlan Autumnhall was the HAWTEST thing to hit the market since, like… ever. And we all knew that his family’s deep pockets were gonna guarantee that the celebration was gonna be OFF THE CHAIN, but even by the high standards of yours truly, this was REDONCKULUS.

Inquisitors! Space Marines! Xeno ambassadors! Genestealer trophies!

But you’re here for the juicy bits, aren’t you? Well, perk up your ears, kiddies, because your fearless reporter (that’s me!) has got the straight dope on just who might have the inside track to the heart (and other bits) of the Calixis Sector’s most eligible bachelor!

Mister Harlan, magnificent cagey bastard that he is, played his cards close to his chest, dancing with just about every girl present exactly once… starting with Lady Selena Veltenstone. That’s his pet Astropath, for those of you who aren’t keeping score. Not much competition from that score, though, unless he’s, like, a total pervert (and not in the good way that Roxxy secretly hopes he is!). Cuz she’s, like, eleven.

(Seriously, though, whoever wins the big race is most likely gonna find she has an extra teenage daughter as part of the package. Like, a creepy psyker teenage daughter. Brrrrrr.)

Anyways, Harlan tried not to show any favoritism, but Roxxy’s got sharp eyes, and with a good disguise and no silly press pass, she got the low-down on just who’s got the inside track, and who just… doesn’t.

No way:

- First of all, Kiya Cloud was no-where in evidence. If the rumors are right (when are they ever wrong?) and she’s his squeeze, then she’s gotta be throwing one HELL of a tirade now. She was never a serious contender because, like, who’s ever HEARD of her (huh?), but now she’s just been told that, loud and clear.

- ESLUTsabeth Blackley looks like she’s trying, from the way she grabbed a double handful of his ASS and practically stuck her tongue in his ear. Seriously, though, Lizzie, who do you think you’re fooling? You might have an AWESOME rejuvenant team, but you’re over two hundred years OLD, and you’re not anywhere near his rank, and everybody knows you’re a RAGING SLUT, anyway. Die in a fire, Lizzie.

- Daviana Krin. Girl, you need to eat a sandwich or three, because anything you wear just looks like a sack. No wonder Harlan let even that slut Lizzie cut you dead. Go hide your ass in the Golgenna Reach, girl… at least until you figure out how to put some curves on it.

Inside track:

- The Forsellis sisters. Scuttlebutt has it Himself is partial to redheads (somebody fetch Roxxy that bottle of dye!), and they certainly fit the bill. Besides, your fearless reporter SAW Selene and one of the twins go into one of the private rooms with him, and while she didn’t HEAR any hanky-panky going on, it did sound like they had a LOT of catching up to do, so there no ruling out the possibility that there’s already been some hanky AND panky (possibly even spanky) in the past.

Now, most people would put their money on Selene. She’s the oldest, so whoever gets her, gets their mitts on all that Forsellis loot (almost makes Roxxy wish she were a boy), and Harlan’s no dummy… he’ll see the sense in mixing business with pleasure.

But personally, I wouldn’t count that twin out yet. I think it was Sibelle. Simone is rumored to still be sweet on Christophe Armengarde (Come on, girl. Like, SOOOOO last year. And NO, Roxxy did NOT write a breathless column back then about how utterly HAWT he was. She just DIDN’T. She was saving herself for Harlan.)

Anyways, Sibelle may have a trick or to two up her sleeve yet. She certainly wasn’t backing off last night. If she could persuade her father to split the estate, Harlan probably wouldn’t care about the title too much. And both the twins are just as pretty as their sister (can’t call ’em HOT with the way they all dress, though… seriously, girls, would it KILL you to show a little SKIN once in a while?)

- Felicity Lockhart. Okay, so it’s not the BESTEST financial move Himself could make. But have you seen how SEKSI this girl is? He has to have noticed. I hate her already. Somebody bring Roxxy her head. I’d be SOOOO grateful.

- Elizabeth Orleans. Yeah, I know, what the hell, right? She’s all business, and dresses like a guy. Soooooooooo boring. Girl, you got loads of nice hair and your nose is cute, why would you do this?

But from an all business view, not a bad move. Her connections with his resources and cunning? Meh, I hope not. God Emperor, that would be drab. They were certainly into their dance, though. And I think I saw her crack a smile for maybe the very first time in, like, her life. And then for the second.

- Me!

What? It could happen. Our dance was LOVELY. And I got a kiss! (Okay, so it was on the hand. Shuttup.) Dun think he knew who I was without my signature pink hair, but your intrepid girl reporter squeezed her bootylicious self into something SEKSI, and Himself’s eyes were CERTAINLY wandering. Maybe his hands a little, too.

If only I had brought a glass slipper to leave on the steps. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

So who is Roxxy’s money on?

Well, pleasant dreams aside, the smart bet is probably Selene Forsellis, although personally, your girl would cover her options with a little side bet on Sibelle.

Orleans is the smart business move, Lockheart’s the girl most any man would want to wake up next to, but let’s face it, the Forsellis girls are a close second on both fronts, and he’ll realize that.

But the race ain’t over yet, girls.

Advice from Roxxy: you want Harlan, cosy up to that creepy psyker girl. He takes her, like, everywhere, kneels down to look her in the eye when he talks to her, and he even carried her upstairs HIMSELF when she fell asleep. He may be too young to be her dad for realzies, but it looks like our man of the hour got himself a stepdaughter before he got himself a wife.

Get her to start calling you mom, and it’s wedding bells, and you’re the next Lady Autumnhall.

Roxxy would do it herself, but psykers are scary. She’s just gonna have to hope. And maybe bring a glass slipper next time.


For your attention, my Lord. Should I have it suppressed?
- Ulrich Malmstein

Oh, so that’s why that strange giggling woman had dyed her hair brown. No, Malmstein, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Inaugural Address of Lord Harlan Autumnhall, Imperial Warrant holder

“My Lord Autumnhall, you are a thief.”

It was not long ago that I heard those words spoken to me. I choose to take them as my text.

They were, of course, spoken metaphorically and in jest, over dinner, so I was not constrained to call upon the man who spoke them to make good his accusations at the time of his choice, with the weapons of his choice.

Nonetheless, the sentiment must be spoken of, and entered into the record for all time, lest others imperil their souls in committing the same error of judgement, and questioning the Emperor’s word in their hearts, by wondering if his Anointed Warrant Bearers, commonly known as “rogue traders”, are little better than thieves.

It is the error of mistaking honor for duty.

The margin between honor and duty is razor-thin, yet it is a gap into which many souls have fallen and been forever lost to the Emperor’s light.

The Master of Mankind has many voices to remind us what our duty is, and nearly every man has his appointed master, to demand of him obedience and keep him free from the path of heresy and error. Yet many men believe that because obedience to the Emperor is righteous and honorable, righteousness and honor must therefore be obedience to the Emperor.

It is not.

The Emperor commands our obedience not so that we may vainly glory in our own upright character, nor bask in the admiration of lesser men. The Emperor cares not for our reputation, our honor, or even our righteousness.

No. He commands our obedience that we may join him in His great task of preserving and uplifting our species itself, of serving the great and sacred brotherhood of humanity in its place amongst the hostile stars.

And to that end, He has given each of us a duty.

To the Lords of Terra, He has given the task of guiding his Empire.

To the Eclesiarchal priesthood, He has given the task of teaching reverence for His name, that men might join together and work as brothers.

To Administratum, He has given the task of directing those labours.

To the Cult of Mars, he has given the task of keeping His sacred knowledge, and keeping its burden from those too weak to bear it.

To the common men of a million worlds, He has given the task of labouring to sustain and uplift His Empire.

To the Adeptus Arbites, He has given the task of keeping those common men obedient to their rightful masters.

To His forces of arms, his Imperial Guard, and Adeptus Astartes, He has given the task of purging His enemies from the many worlds.

To His Holy Navy, He has given the task of purging His enemies from the paths between the worlds.

To His Inquisition, He has given the task of speaking with His voice, answering to no master, to purge corruption from his Empire, whether it lies within masters or common men.

And to the Bearers of His Warrant, He has given the task of speaking with His Voice, answering to no master, to bear His Word into dark places that do not yet know His Light, or His Law.

Each man, then, must know and keep to his place, must know his duty and perform it. It is this, and not our personal honor or our reputation of righteousness, that is our sacred charge. We serve his purposes in whatever capacity He deems fit, for the plan is His, not ours.

It is for this reason that the “Rogue” trader, Bearer of His Imperial Warrant, plays the rogue. Because his sacred charge, from the Master of Mankind, is to serve Mankind’s purpose by whatever means are necessary, roguish or not.

And I, Harlan of House Autumnhall, swear now, before these witnesses, to dedicate myself and my House to this task.

By any means necessary.

Because Mankind, and the Master of Mankind, demand nothing less than all of us.

Private Journal of Harlan Autumnhall, #5

Dear Anastasia,

Today I bribed an honest man. Or a man who imagines himself so.

Impossible, you say? Nonsense. Almost any man will accept a bribe. The honest man differs from the corrupt one only in what he desires. The corrupt man desires to sell his influence, and thus advance himself, the honest man to do his duty, and thereby imagine himself righteous.

Give him a gift that serves these ends, and for this price, you may buy him.

What I purchased was a trifle, the freedom of a foolish servant who knows how to be a petty criminal, but not how to be a great one, who understands why the common thief is hanged but not why the plundering baron is honoured.

But what I truly wanted was for him to accept my gift, and thus do his duty in the way I had chosen for him to do it. Father taught me that you need not buy a man, or cow him, to steer him this way or that… you must merely smooth the path you most desire him to tread.

And if you have two enemies to fight, set one upon the other.

I think father would be proud of how I have learned his little lessons, though you, perhaps, would chide me, forever afraid that I was becoming the lesson that I learned.

Well, what would you say to his last lesson, little one? Would you have me learn that one? And what do you suppose he was trying to teach? And to whom?

I have been thinking on lessons, of late. My inauguration approaches, and I must give an address, some statement to be entered into the Imperial record, for all time.

What would father say to that, I wonder? What shall my lesson be?

Ideas From Brother Alric
For Future Studies
  • Rotating Power Saw Wheels AKA “Roller Blades” to be modified to all ground vehicles.

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