Flying Dutchman Campaign
House Kaiser is an old and noble Rogue Trader dynasty that has fallen on dark times. A vicious four-century-long vendetta against House Fel has savaged both dynasties, and the future of the Kaisers is uncertain.
House Kaiser established itself as one of the Great Houses of the Calixis Sector over a thousand years ago, during the Angevin Crusade. Lord Captain Adrianus Kaiser’s fleet of vessels, led by the Iron Crown, labored to keep the Crusade provided with munitions and materials needed for the war effort. Adrianus’s fleet also acted as privateers, preying on enemy shipping. In the wake of the crusade’s triumphant conclusion, with vast treasures flowing into Adrianus’ coffers, House Kaiser set up operations on Scintilla, which would become the new seat of the dynasty.
Adrianus’ son, Johannes Kaiser, was the man who discovered the King’s Gambit on the swampy moon of Kedrich. The ship had made some kind of controlled crash landing there untold ages ago, and the former crew had reverted to a medieval level of development. The site of the King’s Gambit was considered haunted and taboo by the locals. When Johannes resolved to explore the vessel, the locals attempted to have him burned as a heretic. Johannes’ iron will and a company of properly equipped armsmen drove the locals off, and he was able to explore the ship in relative peace. The King’s Gambit was is surprisingly good shape for having been “beached” for untold centuries. An Endeavor was launched to repair the cruiser and help it escape from the chains of Kedrich’s gravity well. Lord Captain Johannes was, of course, successful. The King’s Gambit became the new flagship of the Kaiser dynasty, replacing the smaller Iron Crown. To this day, the people of Kedrich view the Kaiser Dyansty with fear and awe as the keepers of the Heavenly City which brought them to their homes at the beginning of time. From time to time, the King’s Gambit has returned to Kedrich to recruit crewmen. The men of Kedrich are primitive but they make great warriors, having been hardened by a life of feuding between the noble houses. These ruling houses are all that remains of the Gambit’s ancient crew guilds, and their heraldry still shows signs of their old duties.
The savage vendetta between House Kaiser and House Fel began with a pair of star-crossed lovers over four centuries ago. The dashing young Captain Damian Fel, while having his vessel (the Angel of Brimstone) refit on Scintilla, met and immediately fell in love with Lady Felicia Kaiser. His love was returned by Felicia, much to the chagrin of both dynasties. Both Damian and Felicia were already engaged to others, arranged marriages that would be quite beneficial for both of their dynasties. Damian’s uncle, Captain Moloch Fel, came to Scintilla to talk sense into the boy. The lovers vowed to stay true to one another, but neither dynasty was prepared to budge. There were heated exchanges between the dynasties, including a few skirmishes between their minions. Things finally came to a head when Moloch decided that he had to move decisively.
Moloch hatched a cunning plan to assassinate Felicia and place the blame on her suitor, Count Armand Zarov. The assassination took place, and Felicia succumbed to the effects of a xenos poison. Armand, whose secret passion was collecting xenos artifacts, was framed for having murdered his betrothed in a fit of jealousy. Unfortunately for both dynasties, Inquisitor Nomen of the Ordo Xenos has been covertly investigating Count Zarov for his ties to the Cold Trade in alien artifacts. The incident allowed the Inquisitor to go public with his investigation. Count Zarov ended up mind-scrubbed and his noble house was forced to pay ruinous reparations. In the process of gathering evidence, Inquisitor Nomen not only discovered that Count Zarov was innocent of Felicia’s murder, he also ended up revealing Captain Moloch Fel’s guilt in the matter. Violence ensued.
The Fel dynasty fired the first shot of the vendetta, but the Kaisers’ reprisal was the loudest. Captain Moloch Fel had returned to his ship, the Implacable Creditor, and was at low anchor beside the Angel of Brimstone. House Kaiser had four vessels in orbit around Scintilla at the time, including the King’s Gambit and the Iron Crown. Felicia’s father, Lord Captain Ernst Kaiser, was at the helm of the King’s Gambit. His sister, Captain Diantha Kaiser, was in charge of the Iron Crown. Ernst was consumed with rage and sorrow, and his fleet fired on both Fel ships, despite the fact that some manner of tense stand-off was happening between the Implacable Creditor and the Angel of Brimstone. The battle was short and brutal, massive ships hammering at each other at close range in low orbit. Wreathed in flames, the Angel of Brimstone rammed the Iron Crown mere seconds before her plasma drives detonated. Both ships were lost with all hands. The Implacable Creditor was savaged by the Kaisers’ broadsides, and broke in half as it attempted to escape. Captain Moloch Fel did not survive. The debris from three destroyed vessels rained down on Scintilla from low orbit, creating the blasted wasteland known to this day as “Damian’s Folly.”
This was the beginning of the four-century long vendetta that was to devour the fortunes of both dynasties. Lord Captain Ernst Kaiser had lost a daughter and a sister to the Fels, and Lord Captain Salome Fel had lost a brother and a son. House Kaiser barely escaped Imperial censure for the orbital battle, through a mixture of bribery, careful diplomacy on the part of Lady Oleander Kaiser, and the intervention of Inquisitor Nomen. Both dynasties have lost men, ships, and (most dire of all) profit to the vendetta. They are both shadows of the great Rogue Trader families that they once were. Only time will tell if they can escape mutual destruction at each others hands. Even in victory, the triumphant dynasty might not have what it takes to escape dissolution and the revocation of their Imperial Warrant of Trade.