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Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant (2018), p35 — Race for the Mandeville Point

Upon her return to Dontoria Hivesprawl, Delarique du Languille met with her contacts in the Vigilant Guard. Her psyker adjutant, the talented Morghalian, had experienced harrowing nightmares of a doom spilling out from Dontoria towards Terra itself. It came in the form of a flesh-plague that turned men into cyborg Daemons.

Du Languille knew better than to dismiss this notion as mere imagination or paranoia, for she took her psyker's advice very seriously. Convincing her Tech-Priest Enginseer contacts of the urgency of her request, the Rogue Trader communicated with the scribes of Neo-vellum via a tight-beam noospheric data tether. She requested the shipping manifests for Litmus Dock with high clearance, and in response received a message tube back. Her worst fears were confirmed. The quarantine had been breached.

The export of goods from the hivesprawl had ceased as soon as the Space Marines had put their quarantine into practice. Few, if any, civilian refugees had managed to flee the area by circumventing the Adeptus Arbites' control of the planet's egress routes. Unfortunately, the blanket prohibition on space travel from the docks had been too late to stop the bulk freighter Illustrious Cargo from leaving. It had left the planet three days hence, after the Gellerpox had been detected but before the quarantine had been put in place. If it carried Infected, it was a biological time bomb. Already, it was bound for the planet's Mandeville Point, that zone where a craft could slide into the warp without the gravity of either the planet or its star influencing its navigation calculations. Should the Cargo safely translate into the empyrean, it would be out of their reach forever. With interstellar communication all but impossible, the craft would likely make haste for the Dharrovar System unhindered. From there, it could make the journey all the way across the Nachmund Gauntlet and into the Imperium Sanctus. If there were infected mutants inside, and they carried their hideous warp affliction towards Terra, it could consign an entire swathe of space to damnation.

This was a fate that du Languille could not allow. When she consulted with the war council of Saint's Haven, it became clear that their warships, built for raw might instead of speed, could not catch the freighter before it made warp translation. The only ship fast enough to catch the Cargo was in her personal fleet, a sleek corvette she had named simply the Messenger. Unfortunately, the craft was for pleasure only, and had next to nothing in the way of guns - certainly nothing that could trouble a bulk freighter.

The Rogue Trader did not shirk. Within the hour, the Messenger was streaking through space towards the coordinates supplied by the Neo-vellum augurators. Within sixty hours the green-grey dot of the Illustrious Cargo grew larger on the ship's bridge triptych until its lumpen, ungainly form filled the screens. With grim efficiency, du Languille mustered her team, taking a handful of her finest agents with her in the craft's single transition pod, and boarded the suspect vessel.

What the team found in that hellish interior will remain the burden of du Languille and the Lord Macragge alone. Only she made it back to the surface of Vigilus, and she did not speak a word about it after her quarantine and subsequent debrief with Calgar. What is known is that the Illustrious Cargo was destroyed just before it could translate into the warp, the energy signature of the explosion indicating that its engine decks had been sabotaged from the inside.

Only at the conclusion of Calgar's debrief did Dontoria reveal its last, awful secret. The scribes of Neo-vellum had despatched a second message tube, handed over in cordial ceremony to du Languille and the Lord Macragge. It spoke of three other bulk freighters that had left the same Dontorian dock, a day earlier than the Illustrious Cargo, but with the same shipping idents and the same destination.

Du Languille had likely saved an entire system from becoming a plague site by destroying the Cargo. Yet for all her efforts, for all the sacrifice of those that had fought their way to the heart of the infected craft, the Gellerpox Infection was crossing the stars towards Terra.