With the apparently imminent bio-chemical attack thwarted on Svard, the feeling of an invasion by the forces of Calligos Winterscale seemed ever closer, but the mood of the defenders was almost fanatical in wake of these recent successes. It was perhaps that and only that which allowed Captain Hos to take the In Purgatio Lumen out for sake of a “feeling”, and require the rest of his forces to remain behind. Taking only the members of the crew he fully trusted – even excluding his new completely trusted ally – he set a course out into space, making minor corrections seemingly at random guided only by his feelings. Although normally navigating via feelings is a recipe for insanity, the crew had enough faith in their Rogue Trader to not outwardly question it.
Astropath Eckhart joined in with these bizarre navigation directions in time, and eventually their faith was rewarded by arriving at a heavily damaged Whisper of Anaris, and the confirmation that Farseer Anaris had been sending a psychic distress signal to those whose minds he had previously touched. As the Dynasty wondered what could have attacked him, the Stryxis convoy they had previously dealt with appeared in realspace as if from nowhere, and resumed its attack on the Eldar Cruiser. Though Anaris had asked for help, a conclave was very quickly convened to decide if the Eldar was worth the help, or if he should be abandoned to his fate.
After debate, although it was felt that in general, his advice had not been particularly helpful and that there were a lot of questions around his origin, the Stryxis themselves had proven to be unreliable and clearly working for their own agenda. The choice was not so much as to whether they should side with the Stryxis, but whether they should help Anaris or finish off the wounded survivor, and ultimately the decision was made to help the Eldar. The battle itself was short: The Hos Dynasty fired a massive salvo, as Eckhart used his psychic might to burn the Stryxis convoy to ash. The Stryxis for their part fired an impressive, but less devastating salvo that seemed infused with warp-witchrcaft to penetrate the shields of the Lumen as if they were nothing, but ultimately could not stand up to the combined firepower of both cruisers, and disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived – but not before detonating the Xenos scanner they had previously given to the Dynasty, and causing moderate structural damage to the Hull of the Lumen.
Anaris thanked the captain for his intervention, but the damage to his Cruiser was severe enough that he felt that he had to withdraw for repairs, and warned the group that Winterscale would be arriving within days. Angry almost beyond words at the Eldar’s withdrawal, they nonetheless allowed the Farseer to leave, and took his dire prediction back to Svard and finalized preparations for battle. Less than a day after their arrival, long-range vox communciations came from the outer system condeming the Hos Dynasty as traitors and sinners, and that the retributive hand of Calligos Winterscale had arrived to strike them down. The fleet itself seemed uninterested in talking, merely broadcasting on as many frequencies as possible as some sort of propoganda-based attack.
The morale of the Svardic defenders held, and in close orbit around their homeworld, a siege was begun between the Hos and Winterscale forces. Continuing to insist that they were innocent of their crimes, the protestations of the Hos Dynasty were rejected by Winterscale’s lieutenant – Angelus Fabrizio. A former captain of Aspyce Chorda, he had been accepted into Winterscale’s council at the insistence of Hadarak Fel, and the captain had taken the death of the Rogue Trader extremely hard. He challenged the captain to a duel to avenge Fel’s death, which Hos rather gleefully accepted in order to further weaken the Winterscale forces.
Fabrizio did as he said and came down to duel with Hos, although not without bringing a small force of servitors, servo-skulls and adepts to record the duel so that all could see the perfidy of the Rogue Trader. Though Sarvus did his best to block out the transmission and stall for time, Fabrizio would not be deterred and demanded his combat now. Lightly armoured, and with no weapon but a chainsword and bolt pistol, his challenge was taken up by Jian Veng who set the terms of unarmed combat to unconsciousness. The fight between the pair was swift, and the Missionary found himself matched against an opponent even more skilled than himself, who managed to knock out the preacher without taking a blow himself.
With Sarvus still unable to block the transmission, Hos was reluctant to accept Fabrizio’s challenge, but equally unwilling to allow the Captain to leave his airspace. Since he couldn’t claim an accidental death by provocation, he finally agreed to another fight – but with full arms and armour this time. Fabrizio agreed, and donning a Carapace suit, Chain Sword and Bolt pistol, squared off against the Rogue Trader in full power armour, armed with a half-dozen weapons and his liberated force field from the Logician he had earlier slain. Despite this, Fabrizio again dominated the fight, and only the force field prevented the Rogue Trader from a handful of almost-certainly fatal blows. Ironically, when Eckhart reached out to him telepathically to ask if the Rogue TRader wished for some psychic intervention, that caused the force field to finally overload, and allow Fabrizio to knock down the Rogue Trader and ready a killing blow.
Impulsively, Eckhart reacted and blocked out the senses of Fabrizio, leaving him blind to the world and forced into an almost helpless position. Screaming at the psychic treachery and proof of the lack of honour in the Hos Dynasty, Fabrizio triggered a device that – as discovered later, irradiated the Rogue Trader almost fatally and left them both weakened in combat. Nonetheless, the loss of his visual acuity allowed Captain Hos to regain his footing, and strike down Fabrizio in battle. Though he had hoped to take the Captain alive, a power fist sadly has few “non-lethal” settings, and the body burst into flames, destroying almost everything present.
Though the duel had ended, it was only a matter of pride and Winterscale in orbit laconically insisted that nothing had changed. Pledging to starve the Hos Dynasty out rather than engage in open warfare. With the bulk of his forces now gathered, and Winterscale promising that those loyal to him would bleed the Dynasty dry while they were trapped, options seemed slim. Salvation arrived in the form of Lord-Admiral Bastille VII, who had arrived in answer to the Dynasty’s claims that the Xenos were working behind the scene to encouarge this war. Though Bastille swore he would not fight against any Imperial forces, he did propose a mediated talk to encourage both sides to calm down, and allow for dialogue to allow the truth to come out.
With the threat now on their proverbial atmospheric threshold, and their fleet unable to move without costing them their base of operations, a conference aboard the Bastillian vessel Versailles seemed the last, best hope if not for peace, then for avoiding mutual destruction…