The Oath Unspoken
The Oath Unspoken is a unique and heavily modified vessel sharing many similarities with the Dauntless-class light cruiser. The origins of the ship are lost to history, but it is said to have been in the possession of Ethaniel Anzaforr at the birth of the Askellon Sector. Whether this is true or not, records do confirm that the vessel has been in service since at least the Age of Apostasy.
For millennia, the Oath Unspoken has served as the flagship of the Anzaforr Rogue Trader Dynasty. In this time, it has vanquished xenos fleets, pushed back the boundaries of the sector, and hosted individuals of the highest importance.
The Oath Unspoken was clearly built with war in mind, and despite many modifications, it still bristles with guns and is clad in heavy armour. This makes it all the more puzzling that its master, Aristide Anzaforr, has in recent years pressed the ship into service primarily as a transport for pilgrims.
Nearly six and a half kilometres from prow to stern, the Oath Unspoken is a majestic sight. Eagle’s wings unfurl across the mighty, armoured prow. Gothic arches and crenellated towers adorn its hull, and statues of Imperial saints gaze wisely down from its ramparts. Passengers can gaze back upon these heroes of old from buttressed armour-glass walkways along the ship’s exterior. From the highest spires fly banners of Anzaforr and Askellon, ancient mechanisms artificially waving them in the airless void.
More than a hundred thousand crew tend to the machine spirits and systems of the Oath Unspoken, from scrub-cleaners and artillerists to ratings of every stripe. While strange and esoteric technological systems provide the Oath Unspoken with life-giving atmosphere, artificial gravity, and the capability to tear a hole in the very fabric of existence to enter the nether-realm of the Warp, it is raw manpower that underpins all of this. From the tech-adepts and technomats who maintain the temperamental machine spirits to the massive workgangs that manually direct her mighty guns in battle, the Oath Unspoken, like all Imperial vessels, relies on her numerous crew for many reasons.
Society aboard the Oath Unspoken is highly stratified. Each member of the crew has a very specific role and set of responsibilities, as well as a strict chain of command. Ratings know better than to speak directly to an officer unless he addresses them first. The familial clans that hold responsibility for various tasks and ship’s systems are insular, with strong ties of loyalty between members. Often, clans with similar or overlapping duties become very competitive, which can work to the detriment of the ship. Purposeful sabotage is rare, but not unheard of.
In these times, those crew who are not native to the Oath Unspoken come primarily from Desoleum. This is because the vessel’s primary ports of call are Desoleum and Thaur, and Thaur is not a world that yields up life and vitality. Workers hoping to escape the drudgery of life under Desoleum’s oath system might be disappointed to learn that life is no easier serving aboard the Oath Unspoken. Though the social structure is different, it is no less demanding on the labourers. Ratings, galley-serfs, and pressgangs toil ceaselessly under the watchful eyes of officers. Blind obedience is drilled endlessly into the crew’s minds, with patrols of armsmen to reinforce the lessons when necessary.
Things are very different among the officer class. As with those of lesser crew, officers’ positions are often inherited. Most officer families have been a part of the Anzaforr Dynasty for generations, and many are related to Aristide on some level. Most of these cousins and nephews could never realistically hope to wield the Warrant of Trade, but this does not always stop them from plotting. Nonetheless, their blood ties bind them to the Anzaforr Dynasty, making them a part of it. A complex web of relations, debts, and favours permeates the officers’ ranks of not only the Oath Unspoken, but the entire Anzaforr fleet. Unlike the ratings and lesser crew, who are destined to spend their entire lives aboard a single vessel, it is not uncommon for officers to be reassigned from one vessel to another. In some cases, this is to keep their ambitions in check; in others, it is a result of the officer’s manoeuvrings resulting successfully in a promotion, or a move to a ship where there is less competition.
While the crew can be broadly defined as officers and common crew, this is a simplistic distinction that fails to recognise the many distinct classes serving aboard the vessel. Certainly, not all crew are equal in status. Generally, those whose duties involve some measure of technological work are seen as holding a higher social standing. This is not to say that such skilled workers have any understanding of technology even approaching the lowest ranks of the Martian priesthood, but simply learning certain rote tasks and rites gives them an air of mystery and sophistication. Certain physical regions of the ship are also given over to more negative or positive associations. Crew serving on the ship’s bridge hold a measure of status above most others, while the ratings who serve the Tech- Priests in the Enginarium are slightly lower on
the social order.
In addition to uniform differences, a crew member’s accent helps to demonstrate his position. The various regions and compartments of the Oath Unspoken are generally quite isolated, and most ratings and officers live their entire lives without ever witnessing a good portion of the ship. As such, the various crew-clans tend to develop noticeably different accents, which betray their origin and region to informed listeners. On those rare occasions when an officer must converse directly with a low-deck rating or pressgang boss, he might need to employ the services of a translator of a more middling social stratum to overcome what is, to him, an indecipherable
series of pronunciations.