With the Hos Dynasty now trapped inside of the entryway to the Engineerium and the Mechanicus Shrine in general, concerns now turned towards questioning the voice of Lady Ashe, as it was their only source of information. The Seneschal now identified herself as the current Rogue Trader of the Fel Dynasty, and that if the crew did not reveal to her the location of Astropath Eckhart, their torture would only continue. Since as of their last sighting he was possessed by a daemon and vanishing into the Warp they did not know, they were unable to produce him. Saying that she had “other business” to attend to, her communications were cut off despite attempts to solicit more information.
Unwilling to accept their capture, Sarvus and Caine both turned their formidable weaponry and strength towards testing the shield imprisoning them for weaknesses, demolishing walls, ceiling and fine statuary in order to seek an exit. Captain Hos again attempted to gain control over the Mechanicus systems, but sensing no further headway was to be made he located and began rewiring the speakers used by Lady Ashe to turn them into some sort of loudspeaker. Once the door was burned down, Jian ventured slightly out past the entryway only to confirm that there was another shield trapping them on this side – as well as approximately a dozen combat servitors on the other side in case it went down.
The explorations for escape lasted barely five minutes before a familiar, terrible sound issued from seemingly everywhere, and a hole in the fabric of reality opened disgorging Eckhart. His helmet tucked jauntily under his arm, his face was bare to reveal bloody, raw pits where his eyes once were that burned with an unholy flame and a mocking greeting signifying his possession was not over. Sarvus attempted to climb out of his pit to strike at his foe, Jian readied his weapons and began saying a battle prayer while Caine and Hos hesitated to ascertain the situation. Fortunately the daemon then, for reasons all its own, chose to leave Eckhart’s body, and the Astropath was restored to the ranks of the Dynasty.
Hos began recapping their situation, when Sarvus and Jian realised that within moments after Eckhart’s arrival the Servitors that were held at bay were now apparently free to come through the shield and, along with a compliment of servo skulls, were now swarming into the room. Sarvus’s quick reactions felled one, but the remaining eleven came into the room and began their murder spree. Hos’s attempts to use his knowledge of Mechanicus protocols to stymie the Servitors seemed to only enflame them, and they quickly pinned the Rogue Trader as well as Eckhart to the nearby wall in an orgy of violence. The fighting was fierce to bring down these opponents, and eventually the Dynasty prevailed but not without the loss of more of their men, and a few more bruises to their already fatigued bodies. As the last of the servitors fell, the enhanced gravity field again re-asserted itself to again begin to crush them, leaving the survivors scrambling to reach a safe area.
Sarvus confirmed the inner shield was still down, though the one leading back to their dropship still functioned. Fearing being trapped, the survivors rallied and moved deeper into the ship, following Eckhart’s psychic certainty that their quarry was further inside. A more in-depth mind scan revealed the presence of three beings: Navigator Letscher, Lady Ashe and Lonnie Belleheumer, exactly as was theorized. Reading the mind of Ashe, Eckhart learned that she had been subject to a mind wipe for much of the last six months and was currently under orders to follow the directives of Lieutenant Salome – currently in communication with them – or Hadarak Fel – whose location was unknown. The Dynasty debated going further to try and capture/slay their foes, or to try to head back to the Guncutter, but ultimately decided to press onwards.
Reaching the command room where the trio of Fel’s inner circle had held up, Salome contacted Lady Ashe saying she should detonate a “Psyk-Out” grenade, and upon doing so severed Eckhart’s connection with Ashe. The Dynasty set up firing lanes around the door, and Sarvus breached it with his demo charges – only to find that the room seemed entry. Unwilling to forfeit the iniative, Jian dove into the room and verified that it was indeed empty, though there were a few other exits that the group could have fled from. Hos, Caine, Sarvus and the Honour Guard all also entered as Eckhart, the Death Bastards and the Crusaders stayed outside to secure their flank. The Captain attempted to gain control of the devices that Ashe was using to monitor their progress, but as he scanned the room noticed a bomb-like device concealed in the Mechanicus scrollwork about to go off.
Though Sarvus and Caine both followed the Captain’s directives to attack it, it did indeed detonate and all mechanical devices in the immediate vicinity – including Hos and Sarvus’s power armour as well as Caine himself – shut down. Jian had attempted to flee out an exit only to run into Lonnie and Letscher who seemed to be waiting for them. With most of their weapons down, the battle was joined between the Hos Dynasty and the oversized bodyguard and the mutated Navigator. As Eckhart entered the room, Letscher had focused his Warp powers on the Astropath, and managed to drop him through his own connection to the Warp, firing a bullet that unerringly found its way through Eckhart’s formidable defenses. Eckhart had attempetd a psychic power to strike back at the Navigator, but passed out before managing to use it – the only effect being a disturbance in reality that knocked out the Crusaders and Honour Guard.
Though the Haywire field wore off shortly, the damage was done as when equipment powered back up, the damage to Hos’s mind as his cranial implants short-circuited had knocked him out. Attacks naturally focused on Letscher, but Belleheumeur was relentless in his defense of the Navigator, trusting in his incredible resilience to keep him standing. Unfortuantely, as before, with the reactivation of Caine the Arch-Militant’s formidable firepower eventually wore down the bodyguard, dropping him to the ground. Though Letscher had used his time to also drop Sarvus, once his protector was down, Jian made short work of the Navigator. As the battle seemed carried, Salome teleported into the chamber to join the fight, and landed several clean blows on the Arch-Militant as well as the Missionary, weakening both. Ultimately she could not prevail over the might of the pair, augmented by the two still-standing Death Bastards, and she too went down.
As if the galaxy itself was unwilling to give them a break, Lady Ashe had used this opportunity to re-enter the room, and pointed a powerful weapon at the downed Rogue Trader Hos, urging their surrender. Jian had other ideas in mind, and hurled his Witch Lance at her. Though it missed, it threw off her aim allowing the remaining combatants to refocus. Unfortunately her own salvation shield protected her long enough for her to fire her weapon at Caine, downing the Arch-Militant, and left her locked in a duel with Jian. Though Jian was the superior combatant, he was fatigued and worn down, while the Seneschal was fresh and fully equipped, and at last the Missionary went down, and with it the hopes of the Hos Dynasty.
But it was not their end. The quintet awoke to find themselves stripped and chained to the floor, except for Eckhart who was securely locked inside a Witch cage. Facing them was the members of the Fel Dynasty they had fought, as well as Calligos Winterscale himself – or so it appeared. Breaking down his plot in a moment of villainous gloating, the Rogue Trader revealed that he was Hadarak Fel in mind if not body, utilizing Logician science to transplant his consciousness into Winterscale he planned to usurp control of Winterscale’s holdings without any further violence. Lady Ashe would inherit the Fel Dynasty. As for the Hos Dynasty, the cloning technology that had slowly been distributed through the Expanse was also from the Logicians, initially acquired via an alliance with Krawkin Feckward, who received it in trade from the Dark Eldar.
Fel had come to believe that death itself was not enough of a punishment for Jequin Hos, and he and his Dynasty were to be sold as slaves for Feckward’s next bargain with them. Languished and forgotten. The Hos Dynasty itself would be usurped by a genetic clone of Jequin Hos, grown via Logician science, and loyal completely to Hadarak Fel’s ambitions. His only offer of clemency was made to Sarvus – in exchange for serving him and using his knowledge to bankrupt the Hos Dynasty, he would allow the Seneschal to redirect the funds however he saw fit to his own family. A tempting bargain, and one that did indeed appear to spur Sarvus into accepting, earning him a pledge of vengeance from Jequin Hos, as well as a curse on the entire Fel Dynasty.
With the Winterscale War now over, a peace treaty between the Winterscale and Hos Dynasty announced, and the machinations of the Xenos apparently thwarted, no doubt a great celebration was heard across the Expanse. Few were left who knew of the deceit and heresy that had downed the Hos Dynasty, and as time grew on, fewer questioned or sought a deeper truth. Jequin Hos, Jian Veng and Zacharya Caine were all sold as nameless slaves to the Dark Eldar to be forgotten. Eckhart as a powerful Psyker no doubt faced a worse fate as the experimental subject of some depraved, Dark Eldar madmen.
And though separated or alone, all of them swore that this would not be the end of the Hos Dynasty…