The Sentinels

Binary Companion Planets Ruc & The Fount

Mining worlds are known well for quasi-sacrosanct improvisations to their technology in times of need. For stretching their storages of redundant parts to great lengths. And naturally, self-sustainment comes to Agri-worlds like heresy grows through idleness. What these worlds truly need is what the other provides. Food for the miners, machines and fuel for the farmers.

So when a binary system that includes worlds each ideal for such development is found, it’s a great boon to the discoverer, if he has the gelt and guile to realise the potential. Such an example is also the best chance for scions of the Emperor who are cut off from the grace of His gaze.

And so did it come to be for the jewel of the Welbeck Dynasty, the twins: Ruc and The Fount. A once heralded ancestor of the Welbeck dynasty would find the system in the Askellon Sector sometime between the Great Heresy and the identification of the Pandaemonium, a system she would name “The Sentinels” but which would become known colloquially as “The Spine”.

Two glistening gems in the void: Ruc, a resplendent aquamarine shimmer, its watery surface speckled with red, nutrient-rich volcanic soil; and The Fount, iridescent shades of gold little more than a cold, dry shell around deposits of promethium-fit oils of such size and quality that a Noble Born would kill his first son for a square kilometre of land upon it.

The sisters of The Spine would be the Welbeck dynasty’s only great find and, tragically, it would not last. Positioned so precariously near what would be named Pandaemonium, one wax of the storm would wrap an impassable tendril of disaster around the dancing worlds.

Without the system, the Welbeck dynasty’s spine was broken, clawing along in obscurity for millenia until the line of inheritance was finally lost with the last Welbeck siblings daring their meagre fleet through the storm. Ownership reams and tines for the system even disappeared before His Will could claim them by proxy.

But within the embrace of Pandaemonium, the story was far more interesting. In the early days, as the storm gathered strength, the latent and sanctified alike would feel the flex and screech of the warp in their minds. Warp storms in Askellon, even then, were feared everywhere, and the weakest of the powerful from both worlds fled within hours. The diligent, the devout and those in the dark would then be tested.

To their credit, the last of the Astropathic Choirs from each world were still relaying distress through the warp when they were pulled apart, to a man, and replaced by demons of cackling fire. The Welbeck Dynasty was as Emperor-serving as the rest, so the many holy and ever-watchful on each world fought back against the tide, joined by the masses brave enough to put ignorance aside. The many scythes of Ruc would cull the incursion, albeit with next to no speakers of the Emperor’s word left alive. The few pickaxes of The Fount, would not.

Isolated from the rest of material space, with the immaterium watching eagerly with anticipatory breaths, the planets would change. Effectively frontier worlds, law and reason became matters of heated debate. It would take decades each time, but the heresies of The Fount would rage and twist and boil over onto their neighbour, sending cargo shuttles, vehicles, drilling servitors and men, all redesigned for war. And Ruc would always repel them at greater and greater cost.

Over the centuries, Ruc would share a perverse relationship with their mutant sibling, fearing the next attack yet desperate for the technological resources it would bring. And they would become experts at making the most of what they won. Improvisation and unification against a common, ever-present enemy would be more galvanising than the old promises of a dead man on a chair as the millenia passed.

The final foray of the Welbeck Dynasty would be the next turning point for the long-stranded planets. Coming through the writhing mass of warp almost completely disabled saw most of the voidships either fall into orbit around each planet, burn up in atmosphere, or whip back into the storm, to an endless hell. The Welbeck capitol ship, a ramshackle cruiser brought back from rubble to make the quest, had been rent in two. The aft section slowed fortuitously into orbit around Ruc. The larger fore section fired like a stub round straight into the surface of The Fount, as some Emperor-blessed redemption for the dead Welbeck Dynasty.

Spared of too much disaster, the outlaws of Ruc managed to make contact with a small handful of minor ships from the fleet. With millenia of time to study the warp storm from the interior, the most dedicated minds of Ruc could confidently plot a course through a sizable part of weakened devastation. The decendants of Ruc also warned of the stories their ancestors told, of psykers being gateways to daemonic incursion, should they attempt to reach into the immaterium.

With no voidship salvageable, a plan was hatched. A gellar field, one strong enough to function within Pandemonium and to protect all the astropaths gathered from amongst the derelict fleet, would need to be retrieved and powered. A gellar field powered by a generator that, scanners promised, survived the impact with The Fount.

With plasma engines only, the necessary repairs and preparations still took years, but eventually Ruc was finally ready and able to do something it’s people had dreamed of for generations upon generations. To strike back at The Fount and free their sister world of its torment.

The ancient dead of Ruc who had travelled to their neighbour in peace would not have recognised anything on the surface of the Fount. Cannibalised and perverted beyond imagination, the planet was no longer a mining world but a silenced war machine and altar to the Lords of Chaos. It had been assumed on Ruc that famine would be rife on The Fount, and that attacks from their enemy had become legend due to so few alive. Evidence of cannibalism supported this, and though the minute population that remained were horrifically demented and hostile, the arriving force were met with little resistance, and a functioning cruiser-scale gellar field generator was acquired.

Within three years the bubble within Pandaemonium was visited by a large fleet of Imperial Navy Vessels. The Fount was virus bombed and barraged for good measure, a golden orb covered in shards of glass. Ruc was steadily evacuated, with each frontier-born soul tested for their faith, catalogued and, if necessary, executed. The exact number of lives that would see the outside of Pandaemonium is not widely known, but it’s a unit fraction.

The Imperium owns these worlds but has declared the space untenable for all. Charts through the storm are the rare prize for a Rogue Trader, not an Acolyte. And after millenia of being still, Pandaemonium could squeeze in on these jewels at any time.

The Sentinels

Dark Pursuits Gir Adamania