And they shall know his name
“What was that Rakefire’s*
name again?” Nikka slurred as he lifted his head up from the comfortable embrace of the beer-stained table.
His companion grunted a reply which was blunted by a mouth full of twice-cooked reconstitute.
“Carmo. Yes, that was his name,” said Nikka. “Carmo Dimas, the Rogue Trader.”
Thormo, his erstwhile comrade, put a heavy arm around his shoulders and rolled his eyes in alcohol-muddled thought.
“Never heard of him.”
Nikka suddenly stood up and his friend fell heavily forward.
“It was right here,” Nikka continued as he walked over to the large observation dome that looked out over the Lower Habs of the Fabricatio Sector.
He glanced towards the shadowed colossus that perched on the mountainside overlooking the Hive as if his curiosity would trigger instant wrath and destruction upon him. The Fortress Monastery of The Emperor’s Vengeance Space Marine Chapter stood out black and ominous against the pale disc of Pindara’s gas giant that dominated the sky, its towers and gun turrets a sign that this planet was under their protection.
After a brief reflection, he made the sign of the Aquila and gave a slight bow.
“That Rogue Trader made his pledge here, all those cycles ago.”
* * *
It had been a game of cards. They had been playing Chase the Titan when Dimas jumped to his feet and threw four Titans onto the table in front of him.
“Emperor-damned Hel-hole.” He barked. He was obviously not impressed with his winning hand and the pile of credits that would come his way.
A stimm-bulked enforcer stepped forward.
“Steady lad,” he growled menacingly. “No trouble here.”
Dimas cocked his head and smiled and then pulled out a round, golden disc and held it up in a challenge.
“Do you know what this is… lad?”
The enforcer was unimpressed.
“This is my Medallion of Marque endorsed by the High Lords of Terra themselves.” He gave an elaborate bow and a half circle for all to see.
“Rogue Trader Carmo Dimas,” he paused. “The Third, I must add. Explorator and system-renown adventurer in the service of his… beloved.”
“A sanctioned pirate.” Someone added and Dimas bowed again.
“Shocking dispersions against my good character. I prefer the ancient term buccaneer or perhaps a swashbuckler.”
He slumped back down heavily and placed his booted feet on the table and signalled to the grim seller behind the bar.
“Barkeep, your finest grog for my friends.”
Thormo looked at him through red-rimmed eyes, an unfortunate side-effect of working the lathes through the night.
“You are in a strange mood today, the cards not to your liking?”
The Rogue Trader leant forward and curled a finger and the three of them made a conspiratorial circle.
“I have a secret to tell you… friends.”
“Go on,” grinned Thormo. “I swear it won’t go no further.”
Dimas made a big show of looking around him as if the spy’s of the Inquisition were everywhere.
“I am fed up with trading in exotic stones and foetid furs or stealing forbidden technology and dealing with mindless xenos. I am going beyond the rim.”
His companions took in a deep breath.
“That’s forbidden,” said Nikka.
The Rogue Trader sat back and put his hands behind his head.
“I know, ye-of-little-balls, but I have the Marque and a good ship. Who is going to stop me?”
Thormo nodded towards the dome.
They all turned just as a black Thunderhawk glided past before turning abruptly left towards the Fortress Monastery.
“Pa! Space Marines, haste marines. Their big guns and blades have no jurisdiction over me.” He waved a dismissive hand. “Besides, they have bigger things to deal with than me. I have heard…”
His companions leant forward again.
“I have heard that they are fighting a powerful enemy to the Galactic north, an enemy that is sucking up all their available resources. Their eyes will be in that direction and not towards the darkness.”
Nikka picked up the newly-arrived drink and stared at its dark-brown colour.
“No-one has ventured into the darkness for millennia. Ships are forbidden to enter for a reason you know.”
Dimas picked up his own glass and sipped the contents suspiciously.
“What reason would that be Thormo? Pray tell me what they are saying on the Leman Russ wheel sprocket production line?”
Thormo raised an eyebrow unsure if he had been insulted or not.
“Bad things…” he continued.
“Really bad Xenos… creatures” Nikka added.
Dimas laughed a throaty laugh.
“Ha! Have you ever seen a nice Xenos? I have heard, though not experienced their company, that Orks can be very pleasant conversationalists. I also know that the arch-enemy that shall not be spoken of is misunderstood and can be quite… cuddly at times.”
He stood up again and patted down imaginary creases in his long leather trench coat. He then stooped down and picked up a wide-brimmed hat with a ridiculously elegant feather tucked into its bow ribbon. He grunted to himself and then looked up with a glint in his eye.
“Nasty Xenos or obsequious Space marines be damned, I am going beyond the rim to seek my fortune.” He placed the hat on his head and tilted it slightly to the right.
“You, my industrious friends, will meet me here in this excellent hostelry, in one standard Terran years’ time from now. I will then tell you tales of adventure and skulduggery beyond the stars. I will show you wonders beyond belief and you will say that I was right all along. You mark my words, the name of Carmo Dimas, the Third; Rogue Trader extraordinaire will be famous in this system for centuries to come.”
With that, he turned on his heal and he was gone.
* * *
Thormo finished his beer and stared forlornly at the empty glass. He turned to his companion.
“Was that his name, that Rogue Trader?”
“Not sure, I can’t really remember.” Nikka scratched his head. “I seemed to recall that someone was talking about travelling somewhere, some place that was not nice.”
“Wasn’t he a Space Marine?”
“No, I think he was a wandering travelling salesman.”
They both smiled in realisation.
“Yes, that salesman who sold…”
“Yes him,” Nikka paused in thought. “I wonder whatever happened to him.”
* * *
* Rakefire - A visitor who outstays his or her welcome.