The peace conference and cease fire arranged by Lord-Admiral Bastille VII was the only chance for the Hos and Winterscale Dynasties to see eye to eye, and avoid an all-out war that would likely have devastated Svard, as well as the forces of both sides regardless of who won. Despite this, both sides appeared to be intractable, and though Astropath Eckhart was the first one to voice his belief that nothing would come from this, he was far from the last. Indeed, the first week of the conference was spent getting both sides to sit at the table, and to get Calligos Winterscale to agree to say anything other than promises of retribution for the perceived slights by Jequin Hos.
Fortunately the presence of Jian Vang was of great help in these matters, since as the only one present who had met both Rogue Traders, his surprisingly calm demeanour was essential for getting both sides to calm down and begin to talk down their issues. The thrust of Winterscale’s arguements were therefold.
- He blamed Jequin Hos for the assassination of Hadarak Fel and his Dynasty, and that he was lying about the Eldar responsibility in his death
- He had been repeatedly and maliciously slandered by the Hos Dynasty at every available means, for reasons that were not rooted in reality.
- The Hos Dynasty was charged with unleashing a deadly bioweapon that devastated his world of Maleziel in order to cover up their crimes.
The Dynasty naturally refuted this first accusation and breezed over the second one, but had heard nothing about this third charge as they had taken no action against Maleziel, other than robbing it of choice targets of opportunity. Both Zacharya Caine and Sarvus testified, with evidence, to this fact but were rebuffed as there were overlapping areas of blindness when others could have acted. Specifically, Winterscale provided proof that just after their visit a horrible plague was unleashed on the world that sought out and consumed organic matter, a plague that Astropath Eckhart speculated was Warp-based in nature, but no further evidence was forthcoming.
The Hos Dynasty produced counter charges, including Fel’s admission that his negotiations were just a prelude to war, and the espionage operation they had recently uncovered on the surface of their world. Winterscale took no action to deny them, and insisted that Fel was not permitted to declare war on his behalf, and his transformation of a listening post to a military outpost only began as a retribution for their actions. Hos attempted to use an astropath from Bastille’s Dynasty to verify his memories were truthful, but the Astropath in fact confirmed that his memories had been tampered with – a fact that Winterscale accused Hos of brainwashing himself to believe his own lies.
Eckhart’s memories were also registered as tampered with, and with their feet kicked out from under them the Hos Dynasty adjourned to discuss what could have happened. With their leadership in crisis, Jian hit upon a question that he had posed to Bastille to investigate, one that if his insane hunch was correct could explain who had been manipulating both sides from the beginning, explain the bizarre and unlikely coincidences leading up to the war, and the subsequent destruction of Maleziel: Was it really Hadarak Fel who died that day?
The answer the next day was clear: It was not.
Both he and his bodyguard were identified as recent genetic clones, and clearly not the real model. Armed with this knowledge, even Winterscale seemed paused to consider this manipulation, and asked for an adjournment to discuss with his Dynasty this new development. Taking his leave with both Bastille and Hos’s permission, Winterscale departed and Hos made to contact Svard and set up a scan for anything that might indicate where Fel might be hiding. His transmission was interrupted by impeneterable static, and it was clear that the Xenos attack had begun.
Bastille made to leave the bridge, accompanied by the members of the Hos Dynasty sans Eckhart, who stayed behind to prepare psychic defenses that might prove necessary. While tarrying, he was harassed by a familiar Warp Spider who he managed to fight off, but failed to slay and the battle cost him valuable time. Up ahead, Bastille was racing through his ship when he had an assassination attempt narrowly thwarted by an Eldar ambush. With his crew reporting invasion by both the Morgauth and the Sheed, Bastille was hurried to the bridge by Sarvus and Caine’s superior speed, while Hos took Jian and Eckhart to fight off the Xenos incursion.
Proceeding along, the Xenos were indeed discovered boarding and working in tandem. A fierce battle raged, and though Eckhart’s psychic might easily dominated the Xenos, the strange sonic weaponry of the Sheed managed to incapacitate Hos and several accompannying armsmen before peace could be sought. Adjourning to a nearby medicae chamber, their wounds were treated to only for a portal from the Warp to open, and a beautiful, wrathful angel step out to begin confronting the party.
As Bastille was sped to his bridge, he mounted a fast-transit car set up along the keel and raced towards his command centre, expressing concern that his Astropaths had not contacted him yet. As he was transiting, he was almost slain by the sudden arrival of an Eldar Autarch teleporting into the car with them and nimbly striking at the aged Rogue Trader, only saved by the quick reaction of Sarvus and Caine who instead took the brunt of the blow.
With a war on two fronts, and battles waging both around and in front of them, it seemed that this was indeed going to be the day that decided the outcome of the war…