Bakka Dockyards, Bakka Sector, Segementum Tempestus
The sound of sweat-slicked flesh, slowly being tenderised by every missed block of a servitor driven baton of wood, echoed most pleasantly around the personal combat-cage of Edmund Andamar.
In his own hand he held a stick of equal thickness and weight, the clack of wood-on-wood alighting in him a a 'rhythm of combat' – something he had always imagined the super humans of the Astartes, or veterans of the Militarum, must feel almost constantly – a grunt of temporary pain and a hiss of sharply taken breath signalled that he had let his mind wander once more, and paid a price that, had all been as real as possible, would have seen him dispatched even before his next voyage into the unknown.
“Halt combat protocol,” came words refined by years of the finest education, and then further years in His Imperial Navy, piercing eyes coolly watching the lobotomised training drones fall back into positions of neutral readiness; he had not lowered his own stave until he was certain of an unopposed exit from the cage.
Bare feet padded out of the confined space, the entire structure containing only enough room to house what come called 'the reaping zone', the area approximately about a person once they had engaged in close-quarters with another. Settings could be changed, things made more-or-less lethal, the reach and nature of his adversary warped for differing types of training, but it was always close and personal.
“Damn me, that is going to leave a bruise.”
While placing one hand idly over the place 'tween pelvis and floating rib where the servitors short-staff had struck, Edmund found a cloth and bowl of water awaiting him, mind focusing on breathing and his eyes taking in the expansive area of his quarters aboard his very own ship.
“I suppose I should be grateful,” he opined into the ether, wiping down his perspiring torso as he took another deep breath, “after all... this is the only decent thing you ever did for me, father.”
There next to the basin, framed in rare wood and protected behind thick-but-clear armaglass, was Edmund's very own Warrant of Trade. It did not look like much, that was for sure, a piece of weathered parchment that showed on its face the names of multiple generations of his family, his fathers being followed by the drying ink of his own, a document touched by the God-Emperors own hand and granting him power beyond the likes of many Imperial servants. Many had lived and died in possession of, or because of possession of such an artefact, and now Edmund was simply one more to bear the illustrious mantle of an Andamar Dynasty Rogue Trader.
In the glass he caught his own reflection; the patrician features of a noble-born scholar, matched correctly or no to the lean and wiry frame of a trained soldier, like a tightened coil of sinew but also of the very highest and expensive quality.
It was this visual aspect that was part of his sires hatred toward him, for he had wished for a warrior-son to succeed him, instead he had got an intellectual without the muscle that his father wished he possessed to back his brains up.
Yes, he was neither too tall nor too short, too heavy or too emaciated, too violent or too submissive – but he was something his four brothers were not, and that was his ownership of a spirit filled with wanderlust.
“Let us take another look at you then, my beauty,” he murmured as he buttoned up a naval-style shirt and jacket over his topless frame, the familiar mode of dress allowing him to relax as he watched the holo-schematic of his flagship rotate above a concealed projector within his personally designed desk, “there you are.
His Divine Purpose truly was a wonder of engineering, of Mechanicus know-how, and above all an icon of what vast amounts of wealth could construct in the Imperium. It still made him scratch his had to think that it was father who had configured her, using his own expertise and wealth of knowledge to made sure his heir (at least in the sense of a Trader) had a vessel capable of carrying him in safety even beyond the reaches of the known Imperium.
Still, something inside Edmund winced at the thought that all this – all the time, the coin, the blood and sweat driven into the ships very core – was all because Cornelius Andamar, the very man who had given half his genes to Edmund, was simply so he could be rid of the son he considered his largest embarrassment.
A sudden clang interrupted his otherwise fractured thoughts as he finished dressing, a comb running itself through his chestnut hair to complete his routine, a perfect side parting giving way to his annoyance at the repeating noise.
“Accept vox...” came his snapped order, “this is Andamar, what is it?”
“Forgive any intrusion milord,” answered an oddly sultry female voice, that of his Master of Vox - a woman who for the life of him he could not understand had actually volunteered for this, in spite of her intellect, looks and charm able to get her into most anywhere she pleased.
“That is quite alright Lin, what can I do for you?”
“All arrangements are complete lord, all supplies of materials, munitions and sustenance, are aboard and the ship is prepared to be on our way at your word.”
“Very good, please ask Mister Kurg to take us to the nearest Mandeville and await my order.”
“It shall be done milord, is there anything else?”
“Yes,” he answered, reaching down to lift a data-slate from his desk and into one white-gloved hand, “please ask our 'guests' to meet me in the Central Observation Dome, I would like to make sure we are all of one mind.”
There was a brief pause, a click, and the return of the disembodied voice.
“Confirmed, may our voyage be Emperor blessed.”
Dome Hex-19/25-K, commonly known as the Central Observation Dome, was placed as accurately as possible precisely mid-way between the prow of the Purpose and the stern of the great ship, being by far the largest and most cathedral-like structure outside of the religious sections of the vessel.
It was beneath the mighty dome that Edmund now walked, one hand sliding effortlessly along a gantry-way railing, while his other tapped out a staccato tune on the hilt of the sabre sheathed at his side.
From under the fringe of his peaked cap he took in his surroundings, everything within the ship almost as new to him as it would be to any of those he had requested to attend him presently, some having been aboard for longer and some for less time. The dome itself would no doubt be familiar territory to those he had picked up during the ships maiden outings, one person here and another there, it's rather luxurious interior able to hold a fully packed musical ball had he wished it! No, this time he simply strode past the lush couches, sections containing exotic flora from thousand worlds, and made his way to the central dais.
From here he could control most anything about the dome, from the night and day cycle to the quality of air that was breathed, all from the small lectern behind which he now stood and gazed heavenward at the stars.
The others would be here soon he knew, and with them the knowledge of where their next journeying would take them.