The Naval Tower of the Somnus Citadel on Luna was brightly lit as numerous captains of the Silent Sisterhood's Black Ships had returned to the order headquarters for their annual report. Led by Ernophtora Chrysura, the Mistress of the Black Fleet, Witchseekers and Aquilai Astra had gathered in the solemnly decorated great hall. Fleetmistress Chrysura and Loryma Callos, the Nemesis Praxia, took their high seats on both sides of the Knight-Commander's vacant throne, surrounded by the illustrious circle of Knights-Centurae, Oblivion Knights and Silent Judges. According to the ancient customs, heavy gorgets covered their faces up to the eyes which gave the warriors a stern aquiline look befitting their redoubtable service.

Though the hall was full of armour-clad Null Maidens, no noise but the sound of steps could be heard as the Oath of Tranquility was the most sacred of the Sisterhood's vows. One by one veteran Sisters entered the hall at the head of their cadres and presented their wordless report to the Superiors. Some gave accounts of mysterious accidents and perilous ventures they'd gone through, some reported the names of the martyrs fallen in battles against the vile forces of Chaos and xenos or Sisters missing in action. Though few, young blank girls were presented to the Nemesis Praxia who assigned them to senior Sisters for training.

'Silent Judge Pyralis Ceropsina, captain of the Quiet Vigil, and her Vermilion Sables Excruciatus cadre,' the Fleetmistress' Proloquor announced with broad gestures of BattleMark to be seen by every warrior in the hall.

Pyralis Ceropsina passed between the rows of Null Maidens, dressed in a newly crafted red coat of her rank, her face mournful for the gravity of her loss. Her warriors followed her to greet the Superiors and stay present as the truthful witnesses of her account.

'May the Emperor's gaze be upon you, Lady Fleetmistress, Lady Nemesis Praxia.' She bowed her head with bitter solemnity. 'My report is not the one of glory, yet one of failure. I have lost the Quiet Vigil and all of its crew to the force of a Traitor Legion. The betrayers have massacred most of the psykers collected in the Botian sector. I am ready to take any penance imposed by the Superiors to atone for the dereliction of my duties. The Questorae as well as the Sister-Novice acted with great bravery and dignity even in captivity and during the escape, so let me alone take the responsibility for the loss.'

'We have sent your cadre for a special investigation as the Botian sector along with a few more sectors of the Segmentum Obscurus got special attention from the Lords of Terra in connection with the oncoming Black Crusade.' Chrysura's glance was harsh. 'Yet nothing has been found yet, moreover, most that depended on you are dead.'

'I have come across an unsanctioned psyker appointed to the Inquisition ranks by High Inquisitor Platydoras, my lady. Unexpected interference prevented me to bring her along though.'

'Who ever dares to stand between the Sisterhood and psykers they are to find and gather, Sister-Judge?' Claw-blades on Fleetmistress Chrysura's gauntlets clanged as she expressed her indignation.

'Lord Mentor and his party, my lady.'

'The tacit warning.' A few subtle gestures of Loryma Callos' hand made the veteran Knights freeze in awe.

'Again.' Chrysura adjusted her fur-lined cloak as if a gust of icy wind burst into the great hall.

She made quick signs to the Proloquor, and she came forward raising both hands for another announcement.

'Oblivion Knight Ephestia Interpunctella of the Steel Owls cadre, the Mistress of the Black Fleet summons you for a special assignment.'

One of the Knights walked out of the warrior ranks and headed to the thrones. Still quite young, she bore battle scars on her shaven scalp marked by the holy emblem. Her gaze was earnest and strict even when she greeted the Superiors with a respectful bow.

'Sister-Knight, you are known to have strong family ties with both Luna and Uebotia.' Chrysura addressed the Null-maiden with swift, flickering moves of her blades. 'Proceed to the residence of your foster parents to find a place in their retinue. Many of the first Inquisitors came from our glorious order, and your work in the ranks of the Witch Hunters can assist us to counter the menace.'

She showed the last ominous sign with a violent swing of the claws. Ephestia nodded abruptly, and the end of her purple topknot fell down to her breastplate.

'I am ready to serve the Sisterhood and the Imperium, my lady. But my mother is still out of reach for more than a month after the Black Legion broke into the docks of an Ordo Hereticus outpost at the sector border. My father's ship along with a few inquisitorial escorts is pursuing the traitors to no avail.'

'Let the Emperor's light guide his way.' Chrysura frowned. 'Follow his fleet then, as the whole matter is likely to be connected with the tacit warning.'

Callos made a subtle sign, and Pyralis Ceropsina came closer.

'I am ready to accept my penance, my lady.'

'Ill omens herald the Pirate King's arrival. Trader captains gather under his banners, and witches seek his attention to assist him in his quest for some relic of unspoken might. Take your Questora cadre for you will have to embark to the frontiers of Abilene to stand in his way.'

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