The Longest Journey
[de Winter] Aisha de Winter
The bastard daughter of Marcus de Winter, First Officer of the Winter King, "She Who Lives"
Aisha de Winter is a 23 year old woman, tall like her father, though slimmer and more slender than he is. This is not to say that she is weak or pampered, as her appearance hides a hidden strength, and she is an athletic and hardy woman who often likes to sparr with the men, and more often than not comes out on top. Despite this she is still feminine, and Aisha is considered a pretty woman by many, with full lips and dark brown eyes that complements her smooth, dark skin nicely. Her hair is dark brown and reaches further than her shoulders, though she usually keeps it in a neat ponytail. Her clothing can be a bit ostentatious, often wearing navy blue pants and a matching coat, with a white shirt with ruffle at the neck and long, elegant boots with heels that make her appear even taller than she is. When armed for combat however, she prefers more practical clothing, forsaking the heels and the ruffles for an elegant suit of blue and black carapace armour.
Aisha carries her head high when on duty, and walk with the natural assurance that only a lifetime of luxury and nobility can provide. Her voice is clear and commanding, with a slight hint of her old Sinophian dialect that she seems unable to rid herself off, however much she tries. She often has the ability to command men and women in her service with only a look, and she has an air of authority around her.
To strangers Aisha can come across as arrogant and somewhat full of herself, and though it is true that she is confident in her own abilities, she truly does care about the well being of others. She values her few friendships, and is a very devoted daughter to lord Marcus. In him she sees a way to rise even higher and experience even more different worlds. This ambition, which she does not try to hide, has not given her many friends amongs her half-siblings, who see her as a rival to their inheritance. As for Aisha, she gives an appearance of not caring what they think, but deep down she longs for a sibling to trust.
In comparison to lord Marcus’ trueborn children, Aisha was not born on Scintilla or any of the other central planets, but instead hails from Sinophia Magna, a blighted and benighted planet on the outskirts of the Calixis Sector. Aisha’s mother was Sita Wadiyar, the youngest daughter of the powerful Wadiyar family on Sinophia Magna. The Wadiyars had through dark fortune and stroke of luck managed to stay financially afloat during Sinophia’s slow decline, and had for a while made their fortune on their farming and mining operations not yet destroyed by the terrible monsoons of Sinopha, and the floods and erosions that usually followed them. Over a small period of time they had a trade agreement with the de Winter dynasty, giving them precious technological supplies in exchange for raw adamantium ore. As the trade agreement was coming to a close, lord Dravidan Wadiyar, Sita’s oldest brother and head of the Wadiyar family, invited Marcus de Winter and his entourage to his wedding. At this wedding, Marcus first lay eyes on Sita Wadiyar, and according to her it was love at first sight. They spent the night of the wedding, and the next several as well, together, but before the week was out, the rogue trader was gone and the lucrative trade with him. Lord Dravidan was furious. He had, without Marcus’ knowledge, tried to set him up with his sister to give him a tie to the planet, and especially the Wadiyar family, and thus keep supplying the family with the resources they needed to uphold their lifestyle. Sita also felt her brother’s anger, as he felt that she should have been able to hold onto the rogue trader. His anger abated for a while, when after a couple of weeks it was discovered that Sita was pregnant, but when no reply was never heard from Marcus, no matter how many astropathic messages was sent to him, Sita was forever a pariah among her family. And so Aisha was born into a family that not only resented her mother for failing to ensnare lord de Winter, but who also looked upon her a symbol of one of their greatest failures in recent history.
As Aisha grew up she was never really close to any of her many cousins. She was picked upon by many them, at least until she got old enough to defend herself, and she was lonely for long parts of her early childhood. In her family only her mother paid close attention to her, and she filled young Aisha’s head with stories about her father that would one day come back and take them both away to the stars. Aisha loved to read as a child, and spent many days in the Wadiyar library such as it was, reading about the world outside of the palace and even of the worlds beyond Sinophia. She was an inquisitive child with an active imagination who liked to explore the old palaces of house Wadiyar. That was until a fateful night when she was almost six years old. She was sneaking around the lower parts of the palace one night when she heard strange noises coming from one of the chambers. As she closed in on the commotion her nose was filled with a strange musk that made her head spin, and she could hear chanting in a language she did not understand. It was not the tongue of the Sinophian people, nor even the High Tongue of the Emperor she had been taught by her teachers. What she saw when she looked into the doorway she could never remember, only a feeling of dread and wrongness and a man’s face, hooded and twisted, was what remained. She tried for many days to try to remember that face. Sometimes it was old Rajesh, the house confessor, at other times her uncle Dravidan. She would not be able to make any sense of it until the last fateful voyage of the Mayfarer almost seventeen years later.
As the years went by and nothing was heard from Aisha’s father, her mother became more and more desperate, and slowly she lost both her beauty and her mind. As Aisha could no longer depend on her for her protection, she had to seek other pastures. She was still determined to get of the decaying society of her homeworld, and one of the few avenues open for her was the imperial guard. Sinophia did not send a large tithe to serve as the Emperor’s Shield, as the planet’s population had fallen dangerously low over the past centuries, but still it sent a handful of regiments every generation. At the age of twelve Aisha joined the youth academy of the Sinophian Sabres, a small, elite military formation of noble sons and daughters. Here she quickly proved herself a great fencer and a natural leader of men, and quickly advanced through the ranks.
When she had reached the age of 16 she was almost ready to graduate from the academy, but she was reluctant to go through with it. She knew in her heart that someday her father would come back for her, and that a life trvelling among the stars was much grander than one spent fighting in the endless wars of the Imperium. At this time she had not seen much to her family for many years, only some occasional visits to her mother, who was growing worse and worse for each time she saw her. But just as she was about to accept the offer to fully commit to the Sinophian Sabres, Rogue Trader Marcus de Winter finally returned to blighted Sinophia.
When lord de Winter had found out that he had another daughter Aisha never knew, only that he said that he had just received one of the old astropathic messages that had been sent to him more than 16 years ago. To the disappointment of both her uncle Dravidian and her mother Seti, Marcus was not here to continue the old trade agreement or to take back his beloved, but only to spirit Aisha away. This time there was no for a grand ceremony, only a few short goodbyes to her grief-ridden mother before she was taken aboard the merchant ship the Morningrise and finally escape her homeworld. For Aisha this was the happiest moment of her life. The feeling that she was destined for greatness was finally vindicated, and she was ready to make her mark among the stars.
The first thing her father did to her when they had left Sinophia was to legitimize her as a de Winter, and she has not used the name Wadiyar since. She spent a couple of months with her father aboard the Morningrise, though she did not have his entire attention. The fact that he had a large family from before came as a shock to Aisha, but other than that he was everything her mother had told her about and more. He was dashing and energetic when his moods got to him, and a kind father to Aisha, and she quickly grew to love him. After the first couple of months she was sent to Scintilla to receive further training. Her education on Sinophia, though extensive, was woefully inadequate when compared to other imperial nobles. On Scintilla she spent almost a year learning the correct forms of etiquette, the history of the Calixis Sector and the wider Imperium, combat training and the workings of proper Imperial technology. As always, Aisha was a keen student, and once again she drove herself to exell in every field she tried her hand in. She was especially adept in the combat training, which was not really surprising considering her years among the Sinophian Sabres. She discovered that her fencing technique, which was unique to the Sinophian nobility, was very difficult to defend against for someone trained in classical Scintillan style. During her year on Scintilla she also met one of her half siblings for the first time. Her sister Lucia de Winter, almost six years her junior, was also on Scintilla to receive her education. Aisha saw this as an opportunity to show her father that he had been right to bring her into the family, and that she was at least the equal of anyone of his trueborn children. Lucia however saw only arrogance and another rival for their father’s inheritance, and their interaction were for the most part hostile. Thankfully the age gap between them meant that they did not spend too much time together, but Aisha was glad when she was finally told that her education was finished, and that she was ready to join one of the de Winter ships as a cadet.
Unfortunelately, it was not her father she was to serve, but her older half brother Christian de Winter, aboard a ship called the Mors Ariendi. Her brother did not give her any special favour, but neither did he treat her any worse than the other cadets, for which Aisha was grateful. Life on the Ariendi was hard for the cadets, but for Aisha this was a wonderful time. It was here that she met her two best friends, Maximillian de Winter, her cousin, and Lyn Nightingale, born and raised on a space hulk before being picked up by the de Winter dynasty. During the three years she was stationed at the Mors Ariendi she and her friends had many adventures, repelling pirate boarders, tracking down a mutant cult and even witnessing a space battle betwee an imperial fleet and a Ralh’gol raiding party.
She served on the Mors Ariendi until she was 20 years old, when she graduated alongside her friends Lyn and Maximillian. After a brief visit from her father she was placed on another ship, the Mayfarer, a trading ship that plied the trade lines between Scintilla and Baraspine. Her position was as a second lieutenant to captain Jonathan Vassal. Here she used her abilities to command lesser men and women to great effect, and she became a valued member of captain Vassal’s inner circle. She worked closely with the captain during her stay here, some say too close, as there where rumours that the two of them had spent more than one night together, but Aisha has ever denied the charges, and following the fate of the Mayfarer and her crew no one has looked any deeper into the matter.
Life on the Mayfarer was easier than Aisha was accostumed to, and even though she liked her fellow crewmen, she longed to serve under her father and travel to more exiting areas of space. Unfortunelately for Aisha and the entire crew of the Mayfarer she got her wish, as when the ship was about to exit the Immaterium the ship was torn back in again, and sent terribly off course. It spent what felt like weeks being flung through the Warp, foul forces tearing at the outside of the ship and terrible voices heard on the inside. The crew on the lower decks slowly started going mad, and terrible fights broke out between the madmen and the few who tried to stay against them. The command crew managed to seal away the key components, but as the days dragged on, even they started feeling the effects. Captain Vassal shot three of his lieutenants and himself in a fit of despair, and Enginseer Harkonen walked willingly into the plasma drives in an effert to make the voices go away. When the ship was finally thrown out of the Warp, precious few of the crew was still alive, and they had no idea where they where. Looking out the observation screen the crew saw a strange star cluster that did not correspond to any of their charts. They where truly lost.
As the senior surviving officer of the Mayfarer, Aisha took command of the ship. After consulting with Darius, the Navigator of the ship, and seeing to the repairs of the most crucial systems, they started the long journey home. The return journey was thankfully not as eventful as the last, but still they lost many crewmen to madness and despair. When at last the Mayfarer dragged its screaming hull out of the warp close to XXX it was by the dying breath of Navigator Darius. Aisha and the other survivors were processed and checked for any taint by the Sisters Hospitaliers at XXX. After weeks of harrowing tests of purity of spirit and mind, Aisha was deemed untainted, a fate that few of the other survivors got. When the adepts saw the damages the ship had sustained and the state of the other crew they started calling her “She Who Lives”, and deemed it a miracle that she had survived with her sanity and purity intact. Still, the process left her weak and tired, and was allowed by her father to stay at XXX for another few months to get her strength back.
With her strength returned and her wanderlust still not quenched, Aisha has finally been summoned by her father to serve under him as first officer on the newly restored de Winter Flagship, the Winter King. Not only that, but her friends Maximillian and Lyn will be serving beside her again. Travelling to Port Wonder for the final preparations, Aisha feels ready to finally explore the unknown reaches of the Koronus Expanse.