“Admiral” Jacobus was left behind in the hollow lost in the Processional of the Damned. The In Purgatio Lumen had taken some damage in the fight with Jacobus’s fleet, but had managed to convince Captain Legate of the Grace of Jaccobus to join forces with them to try and escape. The information she provided was not reassuring though. Her vessel had tried for a number of months to escape, all without success. Eckhart and Maturinus both agreed that given the increasing warp interference there might be some sort of solution at the center of the system, where the course was laid for.
Days passed in the absolute silence of the void of this system, before another ring of vesesls was reached, this time a series of apparently salvageable – if not fully functional – space hulks. Captain Hos was tempted by the possibility of ancient, long-lost secrets while Explorator Felicis was drawn in by the promise of Xenotech, but ultimately the Dynasty chose to continue travelling inside the system, possibly returning to the hulks if they ran out of leads.
To bolster the crew’s spirits, and indulge his desire to constantly one-up himself, Astropath Eckhart challenged the crew to a race on the outside of the ship on the Dark Eldar Jetbikes like he’d always wanted. Valencia Mercutio of the Death Bastards accepted the challenge, and the pair managed to surprisingly successfully navigate the towers and devotional statues on the outside of the ship, and even though the Astropath failed to win, the crew was momentarily distracted from their situation.
The next mystery of the Processional came in a thin, all-encompassing dust cloud blocking their path. Seeing absolutely no danger, but a chance to further impress the crew, First Officer Eckhart opened fire on the cloud with the full fury of their lance battery for the duration of their transit – which lasted almost for an entire day before finding an exit. Proceeding on they encountered another Space Hulks, in apparently another orbit. Passing it up as they did the last, they again arrived at a dust cloud, leading Felicis to speculate they may once again have their navigational sensors distorted. The Dynasty promptly took this out on the dust cloud and opened up with their lance on it again.
The dust cloud parted to reveal more empty space, but this time it did not lead to more space hulks, but rather a shadowy planet just slightly off course from their current location. Deciding to ignore it, the Dynasty proceeded on before a frantic vox transmission from the Faith of Jacobus that the creatures termed the Hollow Men had somehow landed on their vessel and were hacking inside. Eckhart left to patrol the outside of the Lumen, while Maturinus led the Hos Dynasty Platoons in defense of the vessel, and Felicis used the Guncutters to strafe the outside of the Frigate to whittle down the creatures on its hull.
The creatures lived up to their name, apparently being nothing but a well-armoured void suit with cutting tools. Unfortunately these numbered in the hundreds, and as Maturinus found out, they were quite difficult to put down with conventional weaponry. Relying heavily on his warp eye and plasma pistol, Maturinus led the defense inside the ship, joined eventually by Eckhart mounted aboard his jetbike. The platoons did eventually sweep through the interior and exterior of the vessel cleansing the Hollow Men, but the damage to the frigate left it at the point where the survivors consolidated aboard the Lumen, and it would be towing the Corvette crewed only by basic servitors.
By this point the dark star was now plainly visible blocking out the backdrop of stars inside this cursed system. Unfortunately there was one last obstacle between them and the star – another array of fully functional Void Wasps, finalizing Felicis’s theory that this may indeed be a Yu’Vath stranglehold. Unwilling to turn back, the crew combined their power and bucked the gravity well that was keeping them locked in this perpetual ring, and barely managed to fly “over” the array, and towards the star.
At this distance, the star itself did actually seem like a star, giving off intense light and heat, and no sign of any sort of path out of the system. Nonetheless, having come this far the crew steeled themselves and dove towards its heart. Their ship buckled and twisted, and began to deform under the heat, but impossibly as they reached the point of no return Maturinus felt a warp route open up, and they entered the warp, and left this cursed system.
The system they landed in was surprisingly pleasant and approachable, with favourable gravity currents and a number of planets ripe for exploration. Their best astrographic guess was that they were in the region of The Accursed Demesne known as the Alembic Depths, which was almost entirely unexplored. Sensing opportunity, they set course for the nearest gas giant to restore some sense of normalcy to their crew.
The gas giant itself had a large number of moons orbitting it, which were rich in radioactive materials that are incredibly valuable to starship reactors, but there were signs of crude mining apparatuses on the larger moons. The gas giant itself was obscured by stellar rings and dust clouds, but Void Mistress Nichols found signs of radioactive power sources inside it as well… moving towards the Lumen. Locking on to the strongest, the crew opened up with its lance battery, only to uncover a Rak’Gol cruiser, larger than anything they had seen before. And then its esecort vessel. And a number of vessels from the outskirts of the system converging on them.
The crew frantically used the teamwork that evaded the Void Wasps to frantically burn away from planets, weathering blows from the pair of Rak’Gol vessels closest to them before their incredible warp-aided speed boosted them far enough away to shut down all systems and hope they went undetected. A few days of powerless coasting to warp range, and the crew decided to get the Chaos-tainted Hell out of that system and aim in the direction of The Cauldron, hoping that it would be more hospitable.
The system they emerged in next had a large number of signals from within indicating the presence of a reasonably advanced civilization – that were not screaming obscenities like a Rak’Gol would – and the Captain set course to investigate where they had landed this time…