A Pale and Distant Beacon

House Zarkhov Ascendant

The destruction of the battle-cruiser Chalice of Desecration and the remaining Saynay fleet at the Battle of Iniquity was swiftly followed by the successful invasion of the infamous pirate haven. The forces of the ruinous powers were thwarted in their final attempt to destroy the Zarkhov warrant bearer when the Lord-Captain and the Deacon slew the mutant abomination known as Broadside Bart in a terrible and bloody hand-to-hand combat.

These events heralded a time of great change in the Koronus Expanse. The followers of Mord’Dagan – Eater of the Dead, were scattered to the void and his once-great Prophet Father Sorrow was forced to flee to the death world of Dusk with a price on his head and bounty hunters hot on his heels. House Zarkhov, once but a whispered rumour in Koronus, rose to take its place in the sun. The promethium refineries and forges of Svard, the trade in xeno devices from Niflheim, wide holdings on the allied hive world of Taranis, the vast mining resources of Toil, Chevalis and (most importantly) Iniquity were combined with the lucrative trade in Archaeotech with the rediscovered Torlani Hegemony to make the rogue trader dynasty a real power in the Expanse. Allies within the Holy Ordos, the Departmento Munitorum, the Adeptus Astartes and other organisations gave both rivals and enemies pause.

It is said that at this time over twenty thousand adepts were required to record and make sense of the Houses financial dealings. Lord-Seneschal Duxale made up for his forty lean years of being stranded in Footfall with a decade of mercantile expansion rarely seen before or since. He became the face of House Zarkhov in the Calixis Sector and was a widely travelled emissary, negotiator and (some might say) spy. He established a sector-wide operative network to protect House interests and continue research into the lost history of House Zarkhov. It is also said that he reached out to the Mistress of the Emperor’s Blades and secured the services of several of the finest assassins of the dreaded Death-Cult.

The pirates in the Expanse were deprived of the safe haven of Iniquity with its resources, defences and heretekal forges. They were allowed no respite and were hunted mercilessly by Admiral Wallace Fletcher and Captain Anjin Rook of House Zarkhov both of whom became widely feared privateers. The powerful fleet of House Zarkhov, with its talismanic invincible flagship – the Blood of Sanguinius, was in great demand from colonies and enterprises that had languished under the malign influence of the Saynay and their ilk and a great reward was reaped in bounties, prize ships and trade deals from those willing to pay handsomely to ensure their continued security.

It was soon after the battle that Deacon Patronius, the Hand of Drusus, departed without fanfare from Koronus. Rumours flew that he had been summoned by his father, the Lord-Confessor to Calixis or that he had argued with the Lord-Captain over some issue but these were obfuscations designed to hide the true purpose of his departure. He embarked on the Golden Hind destined for the Sol system and carrying a malign cargo. His intent was to meet with the Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus on Titan and seek their aid in what he was sure was a great struggle to come.

With the Blessed Missionary gone there were those that feared for the souls of those sworn to House Zarkhov and indeed it is true that at this time the Lord-Captain delved into the forbidden arts. Obsessed with some hidden mystery he formed The ‘Hermetic Court’, a collection of mystics, diviners, tarot readers and charlatans. Vast sums were paid to those who promised hidden knowledge and rumours that Trantor Zarkhov had succumbed to void-madness were not uncommon. It is said he would spend much of his time poring over ancient and incomplete navigation charts or staring out into the Halo Stars. There is no doubt that the Lord-Captain had been changed by his ordeals. He had suffered grievous wounds both before and during the battle of Iniquity. He had required extensive replacement and augmetic body parts to fully recover and though some said that he would only be able to press his luck so far he continued to lead the exploration fleet during this time.

This period was also one of great upheaval for House Echo of the Navis Nobilite. When Novatrix Marlena Echo departed for Holy Terra to meet with the Paternova it was hoped that Echo’s past genetic sins might be forgiven but such was not to be. Before the meeting even took place agents of the Paternova attempted to take the Head of House Echo into custody. She was forewarned and fled and making straight for Koronus to warn the rest of the House. The Imperium had turned its back on House Echo and as outlaws they were in dire need of allies to secure their position. They could survive and even flourish under the protection of the Zarkhov warrant but would the Lord-Captain be willing to offer then sanctuary? The presence of Servos Echo, easily the finest Navigator in the expanse since the legendary Marduk Benetek (and a lynchpin in the Lord-Captain’s ambitions) was to be crucial. It was at this time that House Echo began their contact with the Torlani Hegemony. No other Navigator House would willingly face the terrible warp entity dwelling in the Torlani Abyss. House Echo’s desperation and the guidance of Servos brought the renegade Navis Nobilite and the lost saturnine colony together in a marriage of convenience. House Zarkhov needed the Navigators to meet the needs of the Hegemony’s leaders and ensure the flow of archaeotech. Though the possibility of the Torlani one day joining fully with the Imperium was strong the worlds of the Hegemony provided a safe haven for House Echo to rebuild and continue their great researches.

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