A tense moment passed from when the Stryxis Trader recognised Astropath Eckhart and Captain Hos, but then passed with an apparently disarming, phlegmatic chuckle from the Xenos. Apparently assuming that the Dynasty was here on an infiltration mission of their own, he proposed a temporary alliance where in exchange for assisting him with a negotiation he was currently undertaking in the Nexus of Shadows, he would be willing to offer his own assistance with further infiltrating the Haemonuculus’s Tower in which they found themselves. Though all who had previously encountered the Stryxis were against the deal, Shazzy Fire and Law along with a surprisingly agreement from Jian Veng agreed to this proposal reasoning that they would require some sort of ally or bargain in this strange world, and a refusal would have too many uncertain consequences.
Neither side was really willing to trust each other, and the bargain was initially simplistic with Jian bargaining for assistance in infiltrating the tower, and the Tau for better equipment with which to make their escape. Captain Hos had a long list of questions for information as to what had been happening since their imprisonment, but the Stryxis would only answer one question – and only after their assistance. As he had acquired the assistance he sought, the Xenos led the Dynasty to a richly appointed meeting chamber where he had been conducting negotiations with another Eldar named Dyrac Nyr. The Eldar had challenged the Stryxis to a hunt in the underlevels of the Nexus, something which neither the Stryxis nor his vatgrown slaves could easily accomplish.
The hunt was to take place in an evacuated section for a small, Xenos creature reported terrorizing the workers and slaves that weren’t allowed on the surface. Though Hos insisted that it had to be a Tyranid, Dryca was less than forthcoming to allow the hunt to be “fair”. The Dynasty eventually all insisted on going on this hunt, for which they were supplied a series of monitoring cameras to ensure the kill was fair and sporting. With a warning that tampering with the cameras was forbidden, the Dynasty were escorted to a waiting skiff where a pilot took them deep within the Nexus, down past where there was light or sound, and left them in an echoing underpass, the purpose of which seemed bizarrely obtuse.
Shazzy Fire proved an adept tracker for this situation, and some small, Xenos tracks were quickly uncovered and followed through the passageway until they came to a Nexus – whereupon with a faint cry Jian fell unconscious, seemingly without having been attacked. The group saw no sign of an attacker, and they attempted to press their backs to the nearest wall in their search while the Tau saw to Jian’s wounds in an attempt to cure them. Law discovered two small puncture marks on his leg, but then he too was incapacitated by an unseen attacker with a similar injury. With two Explorers down, finally Caine caught sight of a small, hand-sized Xenos dashing through the corridor as Eckhart detected an unusual presence as though the Warp had been active for the briefest of instants around them.
Caine’s biological systems alerted him to an attack, and he too noticed a pair of puncture marks on his arm, but the creature did not seem to approach them, but rather attempted to flee up into the tunnel system. Small and fast, the fire of the Explorers seemed unable to touch it until Fire unleashed his pulse rifle and managed to tag it with the barest of blows. Though the creature fell with most of its body disintegrated, with Eckhart’s dire pronouncements of the presence of the Warp in the area, the group held off on approaching to confirm the kill – an error that cost them as one of Dyrac’s hunters used their hesitation as a chance to dash in and steal the kill.
Another volley of fire attempted to down the Dark Eldar, but between its agility and technological defenses they did not succeed, and it disappeared down the passageway and out of sight. A pronouncement that the hunt had ended and both sides were to return was not greeted warmly, but fortunately their two injured companions shortly regained their senses, as the paralytic venom from the attack
however it was delivered wore off. Upon returning, Dyrac claimed victory as he had the corpse of the being, and made an excuse that the cameras were sadly non-functional during the hunt. Eckhart immediately seized on this and said that this made the challenge null and void as per their agreement, which was a line of arguement seized on by the Dynasty and the Stryxis as well.
Dyrac, clearly angry, was prepared to concede that the negotiations had ended without resolution, but Hos demanded access to the Dark Eldar systems to prove that the cameras had been working and assert his victory. The Eldar refused this offer, and when Hos attempted to force the issue, the pirate’s hand strayed towards his sword. Anticipating this, Fire quickly and expertly shot the sword with a blast from his pulse rifle almost reflexively, and all hell broke loose.
Fortunately for the Dynasty, the close quarters was not conducive to the Dark Eldar’s usual style, and though the damage they suffered was severe, they managed to defeat the Eldar bodyguards. At the very outset, the Stryxis fled cursing their names, and Dyrac as well made his exit when it was clear the battle was lost. With many of them bleeding and scarred, and the knowledge that the facility would soon be put on lockdown, the decision was made to try to steal the skiff they had just took and make their way up by force. Their efforts were briefly stymied by a Wych party that had hunted them down, but with Caine and Jian’s martial skill the way was cleared and a Skiff was seized, and exiting out into the Nexus of Shadows, the Dynasty were free however briefly.
Their departure did not go unnoticed though, and despite the confusion they were quickly hailed. Hos managed to use his mastery of language to impersonate Dyrac briefly to gain some respite, and Eckhart having had enough attempted merely to fly to the top of the tower. Dyrac had clearly overstated his importance, as interceptors were scrambled to shoot down their vehicle, and upon reaching the top of the ziggurat the weapons were triggered to blow out a portion of the wall and the group made their escape inside as missiles reduced the hovercraft to a flaming ruin.
Exhausted and injured almost to the point of incapacitation, the Dynasty found themselves face to face with those that dwelled at the height of the tower – the rulers of the Nexus of Shadows. Anyalra leader of the Withered Blades, Drecarus, leader of the Haemonculi, and Zaergan Kul leader of the Splintered Talon. The three were less than pleased to see the Explorers, and disinclined to answer any questions that were posed to them. Though Hos initially attempted negotiations, it quickly devolved into another brawl which – beaten and battered that they were – the Dynasty had no ability to match and they were swiftly overpowered.
Again a prisoner, they awoke to find themselves beaten and on the verge of death, staked into a courtyard where they could watch the Nexus of Shadows burn in the flames of the riot triggered by Captain Shen, but now apparently beyond the hope of salvation, or rescue…