With the now-dead planet featuring the final resting place of Genevieve Almace behind them, the Ironmine Syndicate prepared to return to Lucin’s Breath and prepare themselves for the next phase of the journey. Although the next lead pointed to Nadine Aleynikov, only Jian Vang had recognised the importance of that information, and was debating whether or not to reveal this information. He had what was estimated to be less than a seven-day Warp journey before arriving, so he would have time to make this decision. With that, the Navigator opened the portal to the Immaterium, and the Cobra Kai left reality.
The journey took each member of the Syndicate differently. Shazzy Law was forced to confront his new belief that reality was not as straightforward as the Ethereals had pretended. Inside of the warp illusion he had felt his suit be destroyed, had seen daemons and visions that rationality could not explain, and he was no longer sure of the calm order he had come to envision. As a result he threw himself into the calm, repetitive tasks of suit repair. As it happened, both his and Shazzy Fire’s Battlesuit were reporting a need for maintenance, and so he enthusiastically threw himself into the repair work.
Astropath Eckhart treated the journey as he would every other, continuing to plan out with Vasquez as to the new Death Bastard regiment that was going to be formed and slowly refocusing his need for vengeance against appropriate targets. As First Officer of the vessel, he was approached with the information that their food supplies were spoiling at a rate beyond what could be considered normal. Though he and Zacharya Caine launched a thorough internal investigation, they were forced to conclude that it was just a freak malfunction that had caused their food to spoil. Fortunately they should have ample supplies to make it back to Lucin’s Breath, so it was not of great concern.
Jequin Hos found his own trouble, as perhaps due to the imperfect nature of the integration of Eldar and Human technology, parts on the ship were slowly showing signs of increased care. Cursing the Mechanicus, he single-handedly began leading the repair efforts – only to nearly be killed when a catastrophic power surge damaged the ship’s primary lance. Resolute in the fact that his repair work had not caused this damage, he swore to get the array systems functional. Ultimately he discovered that it looked like a critical component had simply aged to the point of uselessness, triggering the entire cascade. Though he could repair the damage, combined with the reports that were going on he began to suspect something greater was at work.
Perhaps the clearest clue came from Jian’s mandatory self-defense training for most of the void crew. Taking the form of a padded ring where people would try to attack each other or the missionary in an unarmed style, Jian noticed there was a hooded figure that his other students seemed unaware of. They would walk around and give it a decent berth, but seemingly unconsciously as it moved in and out from between the figures. Suspecting some sort of warp foolery, he approached it casually before launching his witch lance at it. The spear grazed the figure, and as it turned to flee – still unseen by the remaining class – Jian managed to grab it, only to find it burned his skin on contact. With that, the creature seemed to waver and vanish though it was right in front of his eyes.
A pooling of their investigations up to this point all pointed to the same culprit: A being of Xenos known as the Hrud. A nomadic race of scavengers, they were known to possess an array of bizarre powers that were not officially classified as Psychic by the Imperium, but nonetheless were thought to be responsible for rapid decay of both organic and inorganic matter in their surroundings. So warned, Eckhart began to scan the Cobra Kai, and found that inside the ship’s Engineerium were a large number of life forms, far more than could be anticipated. More disturbingly, despite being in the Warp, the numbers were slowly, impossibly, increasing.
An assault party of soldiers made to breach the Engineerium and fight them off, but were met with resistance by the heretek preists on board who insisted that armed soldiers would not be allowed to interfere with their sacred machines. Captain Hos persuaded his inner circle to be allowed entrance and investigation, with the Magos complaining the whole while that this was unneeded. Careful examination of the arcane machiner produced evidence that there were several of the creatuers, as ignored by the servitors and tech-priests as the rest of the crew. Captain Hos barely managed to spot one and snapped a shot off at it, before automatic defensive protocols by the Mechanicus turned on him and the Servitors attempted to restrain him, even as the creature fled.
Eckhart’s powers proved the most effective though, for as he fought them his own mastery of entropy conquered the Hrud, trapping one of them and freezing it solid. With that death, the creatures in the Engineerium turned on the Dynasty, and a fierce battle was raged. Though they were well armed and armoured, the weapons of the Hrud pierced inorganic material like it was nothing, but burned through organic material without issue. Caine himself was critically wounded shoving Hos out of the way of these things, and upon death the Hrud would stutter and their own power consumed them – leaving no evidence for the now furious Mechanicus.
When enough of the creatuers were slain, the Hrud retreated and Eckhart could present his frozen corpses which mollified the Priests somewhat. However, during the confusion Shazzy Law had been investigating the Warp drive, and found a strange shadow sphere slowly orbiting it. Apparently unresponsive, it resisted probes and scans, until finally he began shooting at it confident that it should not be there. Though initially dismissive, as the rest of the group caught up to the Tau to see what he was up to the sphere underwent a violent change, and began throwing bolts of incredibly destructive shadow-stuff at them, vaporizing large parts of the Engineerium and throwing Shazzy across the room, forcing him out of his now crippled stealth suit.
As Jian fought back a resurgence of Hrud, Eckhart focused his psychic powers on the thing and, enduring its mighty blows with his own psychic force fields, drew the worst of the attacks onto himself. Captain Hos attempted to communicate with it and, despite his arm decaying instantly upon touching it, ordered everyone to stand down and remain calm. Eckhart complied, and it was even possible the thing might have stood down as well, but in the pause, Law unleashed a storm of fire from his own weapons on it, banishing it back to whatever Hell spawned it.
The Hrud also disappeared gradually after that, but the Cobra Kai’s warp room was in shambles. It barely managed to hold on to reach Lucin’s Breath, at which point it was clear that it would need major resupplies before it could move out again. Nonetheless, they were back to their base, and ready to set out after the next disciple…