The arrival of Commander Daniel Keel of Battlefleet Koronus caused some stir amongst the inner council of the Hos Dynasty. However with two Corrupted Svard Frigates and a successful mining operation from the Hollow Worlds completed, as well as the knowledge that they had learned the name of the Xenos behind the attacks in Svard, the crew was confident in their ability to explain the situation. The only potential snag was the new Xenotech sensor array installed by The Jokaero which rather blatantly marred the status of their vessel as a Mechanicus shrine. Fortunately, Lord-Captain Hos and Explorator Felicis decided to pass it off as an attempt to “blend in” with the corrupted vessels, an action orchestrated by the deceased Syros Yurth, and though it failed they haven’t had time to correct it yet.
The return to Svard Prime was everything the captain hoped it would be. With the Crystal Council able to take pride in the performance of Lindsay Garret and her assistance in battling the Xenos threat, the power generators were once more at full efficiency and full-scale repairs of the Svard space fleet could once again resume. Though Councillor Kusinen continued to prove unhelpful, the other members all seemed ready to support the Captain – though Councillor Rhea was still disgruntled over the lack of attention paid to Kybu.
One day of anticipation later, the Hand of Redemption arrived in orbit. Inviting the Inner Council for a personal meeting, Commander Keel confirmed Captain Hos’ suspicions that the Imperial Envoy was his brother, and that he was here in response to a personal message indicating that Kaal had discovered the artists of Silence had fallen victim to Chaos, and he would personally dispatch the heretics on the Svard Promethium Refineries. This was the point at which Commander Keel contacted Captain Hos to deal with the situation, and as there had been no further updates he arrived in system to deal with the situation.
Fortunately, the Commander did not appear to be on the verge of condeming the system to death without establishing the truth for himself. Upon consideration of the Xenotech defiling of the Svard frigates, as well as the accumulated evidence he withheld judgmenet until he could ascertain the fate of the Envoy. Sending his crew away created a brief opening for Astropath Eckhart to probe Commander Keel’s mind – learning much of his deployment in the Battlefleet, and confirming that while he was prepared to believe the Hos Dynasty’s assertions, if it came down to it he would side with his brother. As well, the Adeptus Arbites’ frigate Ironclad Precedence had jumped into the system with the Battlefleet, and was evacuating the survivors of Exclusion. If the Battlefleet failed to report in, or too much time had passed, the Arbites may be willing to pass judgement on the planet itself. He also truly had no knowledge of the Yu’Vath, and his apparent demoted rank was due to him abandoning one of his long patrols to assist another Battlefleet vessel without waiting for permission from his superiors.
Ultimately Commander Keel was unwilling to waste too much time in negotiations, and was certainly unwilling to abandon his vessel in potentially hostile territory, and made ready to depart for the Promethium Installations. Captain Hos was of course willing to bring the In Purgatio Lumen alongside for security, and also brought along a single Svard Space Defense Frigate as an escort. Captain Garret was ordered to remain in orbit around Svard Prime for its defense and the currently unbloodied captain Antonio Cassis. En route to the Installation, Astropath Poe informed the Captain that Leopold Phipps and the Under Wry Beginnings had arrived in system, complete with a newly acquired Warp Engine for the Emperor’s Bounty. Unwilling to delay his mission, Captain Hos relayed instructions to head to Cog to “drop off” replacement workers for the Mechanicus, and then make best speed to Svard Prime to aide in any potential defensive actions required.
The journey to the Promethium Installation was thankfully uneventful, although the thickening cloud of stellar particles from the gas giant resulted in steadily worsening Auspex returns. About one hour out from the Installation, their scanners finally detected it, and Void Mistress Nichols reported that while the Station appeared fully functional there were no signs of activity or returns on the scanners. Commander Keel initially wanted to board the station immediately, but after words of caution from Astropath Eckhart, relented and allowed one platoon each of his own Stormtroopers, Svardic PDF and the Razorwings as led by Arch-Militant Caine to secure the facility. The boarding action was successful, and though neither the Hos Dynasty nor Svardic troops were that skilled in securing the immediate area, the professionalism and training of the Stormtroopers quickly swept the area and reported no contact nor traps laid.
A full boarding began, with Explorator Felicis, Astropath Eckhart and Arch-Militant Caine securing the Engineerium along with the Death Bastards and Razorwings, while Navigator Maturinus and Captain Hos accompanied the Battlefleet to the bridge. The station itself did appear to be functional and even still processing, as the Halo Barges were able to successfully extract Promethium from their full reserve tanks. The cogitators in the Engineerium showed that the Mechanicus Personnel were escorted to the command deck well before the rebellion “officially” began, and afterwards suffered memory degradation preventing further analysis. The bridge itself was found to contain hundreds upon hundreds of corpses – the station’s missing personnel – many of whom appeared to die by their own hands. Unwilling to allow his captain to suffer any more risk, Caine and Eckhart immediately quit the Engineerium to make it to the bridge. Exiting into the Hall however, they found Imperial Envoy Nathanial Kaal surrendering himself to their custody, and requesting an audience with the captain. Believing him to be no threat, Eckhart approached the Envoy to scan his mind, but before he closed enough distance, Kaal unsurprisingly revealed himself to be under the sway of the unseen powers in Svard, and lashed out with psychic assaults of his own.
The doorway exiting the Engineerium warped and twisted under the sway of warp energies, and those inside began to react to the threat externally, but the battle was over too quickly for them to be able to render much assistance. Both Arch Militant Caine and Explorator Felicis were badly wounded by the corrupted Envoy, and Astropath Eckhart managed to decisively end the blow with one concentrated blast of warp energy delivered via force sword. Unfortunately, this is what Kaal apparently desired, and as he died in a flare of warp energy on the bridge Navigator Maturinus suddenly sensed a strong concentration of warp energy born out of this death that was recognisable to him as a Warp Beacon. A slightly worried message from Mistress Nichols answered his predictions of doom as the massive signature at the heart of the Gas Giant initially thought to be the Jokaero not understanding the Captain’s orders was now moving towards their position – and quickly.
Both Keel and the Hos Dynasty made it back to their respective vessels and made ready for battle as a massive, impossibly constructed vessel of the Yu’Vath emerged from the warp, flanked by a number of smaller Void Wasps. Captain Cassis aboard the Svard Defense Frigate made an excellent showing for himself, downing three of the Void Wasps in combat leaving the Lumen and Hand of Redemption free to concentrate their fire on this new threat. The creature proved itself resilient and deadly, with weapons that seemed ill-suited for massiev damage, but so numerous and persistent that many key systems were damaged or rendered inaccessible during the fight. The Hand of Redemption was the initial target, and its torpedo bays were destroyed early in the engagement. The Lumen was also brought down to near destruction, but the steady hand of the crew alongside their traditionally excellent discipline inflicted as good as they received onto the impossible vessel, and as it turned to flee the system it was finally brought down by one last strike from the Archeotech lance.
With the Lumen’s crew devastated and its ship in bad need of repairs, as well as the Battlefleet Cruiser all-but-crippled, Captain Hos voxed over to Commander Keel, telling him that this was his introduction to the Yu’Vath…