Drifting silently, the scout ship VA Trajan barely left a wake to mark her passage. They were on the safe side of Fort Goethe, which would diminish the danger of hostiles, it didn’t diminish Captain Carrowe's vigilance. Warp storms remained a danger in these parts and one could look out any port hole to see the swirling ebb and flow of warp fluctuations. Either one was brewing or one had passed. It was hard to tell, and only the seasoned warpman could really make a decent guess at the fickle ways of space travel. Carrowe was just such a man and made the presumption that one had passed. There were fewer bells between each fluctuation, and only a rotation ago one of the Navy patrol groups reported their stay engines were stressed due to the exertion of keeping their squadron tacked into real space.

To be swallowed up by a warp storm could mean being thrown through the vast and mysterious warp into unknown space or worse, destroyed outright. Conversely, warp storm passage brought a whole new host of problems with Them, and Carrowe had all his watches on amber vigil. It was rare but storms could drop monsters, hulks, portals, and other hostiles into friendly territory. This made his patrol a necessary precaution against the threats to the Divine Emperor's sovereignty.

The navigator started suddenly “Contacts on screen, Captain!”

With his usual efficiency Carrowe slaved the scan to his position, and it showed an increasing number of contacts at the edge of sensor range. With identification impossible at this distance, Carrowe thought it wise to have his master at hand. Keying the intercom, he broadcast, "Tribune Fortus, your presence is requested on the bridge."

There was only a brief delay before the lock driven doors whined and sheathed back to admit Fortus to the bridge area. Larger than life in his green armour, yet still nimble and graceful, he stepped up the ramp to the quarter-bridge with a flourish.

"What trouble have you found?" was all Fortus said.

"Multiple contacts, brother, count increasing," Carrowe replied, "preliminary scans show ship traits, but of what class and make we won't know until visual."

"Navigator, how long?" Fortus said.

"Coming in visual range of lead elements now. Stand by… It's Imperial make. Hailing friendly colours, and by all appearances Astartes configuration."

"A marine ship?" Fortus frowned, "On screen." The ship was red and bore unknown markings. A quick researchus scan of the bridge library revealed that the chapter was simply called the Red Guard.

Carrowe glanced from his screens to look at the Tribune, "Who are they?"

"Another one of those monkish chapters," Fortus said with a grimace, "just what we need. Well then, let us be civil and see what their business is. No doubt we'll need to carefully explain to them who the dominant chapter in this sector is.

Legate Korvus looked at the faces of his command staff, gathered about the conference table in his ready room to discuss their now clear future as the fleet made a short hop through the warp to Fort Goethe, the nearest Imperial stronghold, a frontier mining and forge colony. "Who are we dealing with here?"

Secundus shifted as he read the report the Library had collated on short notice. “Sub-sector forces seem to be under the nominal command of High Lord Admiral Kitchener. The main marine contingent is the Victrix Astartes.” There was a murmur of confusion around the table, which ceased when Korvus said, “Who?”

"They call themselves the Victrix Astartes. The records tell us little, but they appear to be most… unorthodox.” The chaplain grinned before continuing, “more a social club than a chapter.”

This elicited a round of laughter from the gathered officers, and Secundus waited it out before continuing. “Apparently they believe their geneseed is drawn from the blood of one Calvin Ewald, the Emperor's boon companion prior to the Heresy. A legend no doubt, but regardless, they have held sway over this sector since M37."

A warning ping sounded, marking the step down from warp. Everyone grabbed hold of something firm, and the chaptership shuddered as it fought its way back into normal space.

“Well, that wasn’t too bad.” Korvus remarked as the ship settled down. There was another burst of laughter, a common reaction from men who had risked their lives to the warp too often. One of the younger officers said, “Praise the Emperor,” and was echoed by the company.

The laughter had barely subsided when another warning ping sounded, and a disembodied voice spoke over the broadcast, “Contacts! I repeat we have contacts!”

“To your stations,” Korvus called, not bothering to check to see if the others were moving, as he knew they would be. Korvus and the chaplain headed to the main bridge, where he saw the crew moving with their usual efficiency as he took the command chair. “Report.”

The sensor officer tuned his instruments, then said, “Imperial scout, sir, Codex markings.”

“Message inbound, Master’s key.” Came from the communications officer.

“That was quick,” Secundus said.

“Indeed, on my private screen.” was Korvus’ reply, then he threw up a privacy field about himself and Secundus.

His visage darkened as he read the message, then, in a rage smashed his fist down, denting the console badly. “How dare they!”

Secundus reviewed the message from over Korvus’ shoulder, ignoring his seething. "They state their authority comes from the sector Commander, one High Lord Dukas Andronicus, as well as the support of the Inquisition.”

“So? They order us about like puppets, I cannot stand for that.”

“They also claim authority over elements of the Black Templars and Dark Angels acting in this subsector.

Korvus’ anger was not assuaged by the information "Claims mean nothing. They are fools to think we will take this gently, regardless of the circumstances. No one will insult the Red Guard in such a manner without dealing with me personally.

“What of their orders?"

"Yes, their orders.” Korvus’ face settled and the red flush left it, and a look that Secundus knew as grim determination settled in. “Navigator, maintain course for Fort Goethe, geosynchronous over New Khrengrad.”

“And when we arrive?” Secundus was worried, and hoped his protégé wouldn’t do anything rash.

We will report to this Mother Superior Beatrix of the Eccliesiarch as they have requested. I also want that Tribune here for a… discussion.”

“And the purity scan?" he said, barely able to keep the disgust from his voice.

Korvus was not as reserved. "A purity scan! By the Emperor’s shrivelled left nut, someone’s going to pay for that."

Korvus 21:03, 9 February 2008 (UTC) Steven Sandford and Nicholas Cioran