The Longest Journey
The Winter King
The Original King of Winter, remembrance impression m.32
The Winter King is of an ancient and venerable design template no longer in use for the Sword class of frigates. Built upon the orbital dockyards of Jupiter in the millennia following the terrible calamities of the Horus Heresy this ship is truly a relic of ages past. The design template, also known as the Strygis pattern VI “Longsword”, is constructed with a radically different drive then the standard Jovian Pattern drive, namely the Phoros pattern modified rapid cycle plasma drive. It is also uncommonly elaborate for a ship of its size, designed as a spearhead of Imperial expansion in the Age of Forging (M.32-35) and built to convey the grandeur and might of the Imperium to those beyond its control.
The Prow is visually the most striking part of the The Winter King dominated as it is by an enormous statue almost half a kilometre tall. The towering effigy depicts saint Ollanius Pius in the panoply of an armoured knight clad in silver armour. In his outstretched right hand is a gilded trident set with rubies the size of tanks, the end of each fork housing one of the ships might Staravar Laser Macrobatteries. In his right, protecting the ship, is a massive shield engraved with a golden Imperial Aquila housing the Void shield and Gellar field projectors. The saints artfully carved features and flowing hair, filled with regal strength and angelic kindness, houses the ships forward observation post as well as the machinery for the broadband casters and communication hubs. At the base of the statue is a small lander bay designated as the major reception bay with adjacent reception facilities.
The main Hull of the Winter King is, like on most imperial starships, akin to a vast cathedral, buttress upon buttress, arch upon arch, striving upwards in a confusing mass. Several gargoyles and saints, many locked in battle, decorate the outer arches and the ships sensor spines and interceptor guns are nestled amongst these. Both the port and starboard flanks of the ships hold several sets of lighter bays between which, in the ships vast cavernous holds, is an endless maze of corridors, service shafts, access tunnels etc etc connecting the ships various compartments, from the cargo holds and the munitorium servicing the weapon batteries to the greathold and the main living quarters of the ships vast crew. The massive Pyros melta-batteries sits far back along the hull, one battery port and one starboard, arching out from the main structure on massive fins. Each gun-barrel is shaped akin to a fire spewing wyrm, reminiscent of the legends of ancient Terra. And underneath it all, the shadowy undercroft and the dark holds were few sane men dare to walk.
After the prow the Spine is certainly what draws the beholder’s eyes the strongest when looking upon the Winter King, for it is truly a wondrous sight. Along the ships entire length, nearly 4 kilometres, run a glittering line of reinforced crystal windows and massive beams made entirely out of superdense glass. Constantly reflecting the light of whatever sun the ship travels near, the ship’s Arboretum and Observatorium is nearly unique within the Imperium, a relic of a bygone age, and provides not only food and claustrophobia relief for the crew but also serves as the main artery of the ship were messengers, security details and officers constantly hurry back and forth. For those short on time and of sufficient rank horses or rickshaws can also be had at several posts along the spine. In battle or during warp travel huge shielding plates raise up to cover the component, its inside fitted with holographic plates designed to mimic the skies of ancient terra with weather matching the outside conditions.
The Sterncastle rises up at the end of the spine as a massive cathedral like dome, several spines and spires raising up around it, with the highest directly behind the dome. The dome houses many of the Winter King’s most important systems with the bridge to the front just above the spine and the observation dome with associated library facilities taking up the top of the dome itself. In the tallest spire resides the Astropaths of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, their choir chamber occupying the top floor and their living quarters lying below. Behind the bridge, within the bowels of the Sterncastle, lies the officer’s quarters, cantina, recreational areas, offices, archives and endless stretches of service tunnels.
The Aft however is the beating heart of the ship, without which nothing would function. Six massive thrusters each the size of a small factory powers the mighty ship forward, clustered around the warp drive and venerable Phoros-pattern central plasma reactors. The whole area is solely under the jurisdiction of the Adeptus Mechanicum who runs it with near autonomy. In the bowels of the aft the ships manifactorium constantly produces the wide variety of parts constantly in demand across the ship as well as small amounts of gear and weapons.
The bridge of the Winter King, housed within the sterncastle’s central dome, is an ancient installation constructed with the ships task as a herald and explorer in mind. Significantly more technologically advanced and sophisticated then most ship bridges it still retains a gothic feel however, dominated as it is by a massive vaulted ceiling and with the supports arched into perfect bows. The main entrance to the bridge is a vast staircase leading up from the main walkway of the Arboretum, past a set of massive silver clad and carved bulkheads into the floor of the lower bridge. In addition to this entrance there is a separate staircase to the higher bridge and of course several service tunnels.
The Lower Bridge is a vast open floor separated into various stations of command facing a massive viewport. Centrally, standing before the viewport, is the helmsman’s station and its support facilities. The ship’s wheel is a massive and venerable thing, made of a polished dark brown wood and set with several panels for adding more minute information than simply turning the wheel can convey. Several displays rising up around the wheel informs the helmsman of all he needs to know, from the ships current speed to reactor performance. To the right is an engine order telegraph in the form of three levers running both back and forth and sideways by which the helmsman can convey orders to the engine officers. Surrounding the helmsman’s station is two smaller stations for his support crew who constantly monitor incoming auspex readings and information being relayed on from the engine compartments. To the right of the Helmsman’s station is an area given over to the ships guns, under the Master of Ordinance, and to the left communications, under the Master of the Vox, as well as the various stations monitoring the ship itself, under the Infernus Master. The lower bridge also hosts the massive cogitator system dedicated to the ships auspex, rows upon rows of monitors upon a second level towards the back wall, all under the supervision of the ships Master of Esoterics.
The Higher bridge rise on several levels above the lower bridge, essentially heavy catwalks half-circling the floor below housing much of the bridge crew dedicated to relaying, archiving and spreading information and reports. The railed edges of the walkways are at regular intervals set with angelic figures and various saints. The fifth and highest floor however runs backwards and is far bigger and it is technically from here the ship is ruled. In the middle of the room, underneath an arched ceiling and with the full glory of the viewport to the front are the Lord-Captains throne and the First Officers high seat before which is the bridges main holographic display and several retractable display screens. The higher bridge also has several sizable office rooms to the back, amongst which is the First Officers office, the High Factorums office, etc.
The Captain’s quarters are but a short walk of the higher bridge, down a long corridor with several bulkheads and past a post held by the captain’s personal guard. How his quarters actually looks remains a mystery to most of the crew.
The Navigator’s Quarters lies just above the bridge, accessible via a spiral staircase from the back of the higher bridge. Guards in the direct service of house Nostromo holds the bottom of the stairs as well as the door at the top. The quarters cover enough rooms for 50 servants and the navigators as well as a personal study, room for the security detail and several rooms given over to storage, esoteric devices and similar. At the very top floor, almost directly above the captain’s throne, is the Navigator’s Station. This large oval room is protected by several thick layers of armour and completely sealed except for the life support system and a single entrance. The entrance can be sealed with a triple lock bulkhead almost two meters thick, the front covered in a concentric spiral of running text written in high gothic (for those with the skill to read it is a incantation to ward of the predators of the warp). The room itself is painted in black and red, and surprisingly empty save for the massive throne that dominates its centre. The machinery running the room is massive, heavy cables run across the floor in fat bundles like the bloated veins of a corpse, several stacks of cogitators slot into the walls and from the roof extends several metallic devices all centred on the throne. The throne itself is an impossibly old and arcane piece of technology shaped like a high backed chair carved entirely from human bone, the handles ending in hollowed out human skulls which can be slid back to reveal several control panels and the entire chair blistering with cortex ports and spine jacks all which has to be hooked into the controlling navigator. To interface and operate it requires the service of the ships Navis-Mechanica and his veritable hoard of servitors, all housed in an adjacent control room with living quarters.
The Security Centre lies almost directly below the lower bridge, accessible via a short walk down a spiral staircase. It is mainly composed of a low vaulted room with the far wall covered in a massive vista of vid-scenes and displays showing the various security measures and their status. The scenes display the thousands of pict-recorders monitoring the important points of the ship such as main bulkheads, munitorium entrances, bridge entrances, the brig, flight decks and similar facilities. Several monitors receives the continued reports of hundreds of security patrols as they tick in as well as dealing with reports and complaints directly from the crew covering everything from broken vents to murder and rape. The room is also the command centre for the shipboard troops and security details expected to repel boarders, and thus essentially double as a war room.
Following a stately set of stairs up behind the Captain’s throne a pair of large double doors in oak, with a concealed bulkhead in front, enters into the observation dome. Easily the size of a major plaza this wide and spacious hall is home to the ships librarium as well as an actual observatorium. The room is circular with several rising concentric circles accessible via broad stairs and each wall set with thousands of shelves. The room easily contains millions of tomes, though the vast majority of these are little more than archived files of some long forgotten agreement or detailing on of the ships thousands of minor expenses, unlikely genealogies, the stories of saints and other such fairly uninteresting material. The two last rings however are certainly the most interesting once, containing as they do the Captain’s not insignificant collection of actually valuable tomes, the archives of newer intel and in the last circle the ships collection of stellar charts, maps and similar. Upon the large plateau created by the last circle is also a massive holographic display tank made specifically to read star charts.
Above all this, easily a hundred metres or more up, is a vast domed roof made entirely out of sheets of diamond and reinforced glass giving a wonderful vista into the vastness of space itself. In emergencies and the warp huge bulkheads can be raised to cover the dome, their insides inscribed with electrical diodes that form massive starcharts mimicking those displayed below. In the far end of the room is also the actual observatorium accessible through a winding spiral staircase which leads up to a heavy catwalk circling the chamber along the top. In a separate chamber here is the massive apparatus used for surveying stars, incorporating a sextant, several powerful telescopes and other, even more arcane, devices, all under the purview of the Magos Occularis.
Central thoroughfare, upper decks
Arboretum and Spine
The Arboretum and extended Observation Spine runs along nearly the entire length of the ship on two floors, a lower ground level and two massive walkways about six metres up, one on each wall with bridges on regular intervals. The Arboretum, which takes up nearly the entire ground floor, is for a large part simply endless long stretches of ordered orchards and fields. A long tree lined avenue passes through these verdant stretches were crew on leave are allowed to work under the supervision of the head cultivator. All manners of products are grown here but the predominant production is wheat, rice, the lopsided ploin fruit as well as milk and meat from a small herd of gipsy-grox held in specially fenced fields. Wine is also produced from two small and heavily guarded vineyards under the supervision of the Master of the Arboretum, a gnarled old malfian with an exquisite knowledge of fine wines. All this greenery is supported and held alive by an ancient system whose workings are ill understood, but massive lamps provide heat and artificial sunlight while a sprinkling system provide mineral laced water at intervals mimicking rain.
Above the gardens and orchards, on the two walkways, runs the ships main personnel traffic as well as serving as an area for recreational strolls. (That is, for those lucky few with a few hours of leave) Servitor drawn rickshaws transport the most important personnel while others must simply use their legs. There are also several designated spots along the spine walkways with comfortable seating areas and small food outlets for officers off duty. Above it all is a ceiling of diamond and reinforced glass through which space can be viewed in all its magnificent glory.
The Astropathic Choir
The Astropathic Choir occupies the tallest spire behind the Observation Dome. A massive spear of metal it has been shaped artfully into the likeness of one of the Emperor’s angels and its outside gilded. Within it contains several levels housing the various astropaths with their personal chambers, their support staff made up of servants and tech-adepts, their combined security detail, guard and jailors, as well as the choir chamber itself. The chamber itself lies on the top floor with a domed diamond and reinforced glass ceiling, adjacent to the Choirmaster’s quarters. The chamber is adorned only with a single statue depicting the glorious Emperor of Mankind, around which the various astropaths take their seat in a semi-circle on soft cushioned seats on the floor.
The Brig and the Bilge
The Brig of the Sol Invictus is fairly well organized and far from all suffer there, though it is by no means a nice place. Officers are usually simply confined to their quarters and are thus, usually, exempted from the brig. Those that are kept for shorter periods are in fairly well kept cells and released fairly quickly. Worse offenders are put one level down in dank unlit cells, many of these simply forgotten in the papermills. Finally, in a single wide and pitch black cell below, known as the “Hellpit” or the “Xeno’s lair”, are those sentenced to death. As this is a fairly common punishment the cell regularly receives 5-10 prisoners a week. No one bothered to soundproof the “Hellpit” and the screams of those interred there are sometimes played across the speakers in sections with high crime rates.
The Bilge covers a mostly uncharted area in the lower holds of the ship, especially in the extremely radiated area below the reactor as well as in several pockets of sealed off and unused space throughout the ship. The Bilge is home to thousands of filthy mutants, various outcasts, the sick and other vermin best left to their darkness.
The Shrines and Temples
Spirituality and faith is the lifeblood of the Imperium and few are those that do not seek the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy for succour. Across the Sol Invictus are spread hundreds if not thousands of minor shrines and local temples were the various groups of crewmen venerate the Emperor, the saints and sometimes even his emissary the Lord-Captain. There are however three shrines of special note.
Firstly there is the officers Shrine located just beyond the mess to the back of the Sterncastle. A sizable room filled with carved statues in marble and granite makes for a solemn atmosphere with several benches and chairs set aside for private meditation. From a pulpit the preacher can preach when holding mass and in several niches under the various statues the worshipers can pray to their saints for guidance and aid.
Secondly is the Temple of the Greatholds, a vast cathedral like room in the bowels of the ship were the great masses of crewmen come to venerate particularly holy days or join in chorus on designated days. The Holdsmen, the majority of Armsmen and the Flight Bay personnel also use this as their everyday chapel. The vast room has a high vaulted ceiling, finely carved statues and an upper walkway for preachers, officers and other important people. It can also double as an assembly or parade ground.
Finally there is the Shrine of Ollanius Pius within the saint’s statue at the prow. Here the Saintsmen as well as thousands of other followers of the saint’s cult gather on his holy days and for mass. The Shrine is large enough to hold nearly a thousand seated and seats are thus heavily competed for. Due to its popularity and mass of parishioners the shrine is particularly well cared for and beautiful.
The Cargo Holds
The Lighter Bays
We’ll get there…
Main Prow Lighter Bay
The Fief of the Mechanicum