Completely taking control of a planet of three billion takes time, but after a reasonable break from adventuring the Hos Dynasty felt that Damaris was finally secure enough integrating between their “homeworld” of Svard and their colony worlds at Inti, and that it was time to once more seek out fortune, adventure, fortune, riches and profit among the stars. The Dynasty was fully aware that with three systems – only two of which boasted a passable SDF – their logistical needs had increased exponentially, and their thoughts turned to acquiring favours and new ships. Although the support provided by Rogue Trader Orleans had proven invaluable, Jequin Hos was never one to rely on any force that wouldn’t swear complete allegiance to him. Fortunately during his expedition to Seldon’s Folly, Seneschal Leopold Phipps had acquired a lead on a new Light Cruiser – the Unrelenting Fury of the Void which was part of an expedition to found an Agri World in the Koronus Expanse, an endeavour that yet again meant with failure.
Though it cost them a not inconsiderate amount of their capital earned to date, the Light Cruiser was purchased, and its crew had been selected and trained up, now all that was left was the inaugural mission. Seeking to settle the desire to acquire more vessels for his fleet, and settle Arch-Militant Caine’s prior “arrangement” with the Inquisition, Captain Hos decided to set sail with the Fury to the SR-651 Breaking Yards for a shake-down cruise, and then proceed alone from there on to Melbethe to hunt some Xenos. Their first stop along the way was to check in at Inti to ensure that the colony was running smoothly, and to pick up supplies from Magos Stein that could be useful for Xenos hunting. During this stopover, their destination to Melbethe was casually mentioned, at which point the Magos insisted on coming along, and after a quick arrangement with her logistics personnel to ensure that the colony would run smoothly in her absence, she boarded the In Purgatio Lumen for her own endeavours.
The journey to the Breaking Yards was as much a test of the new Navigators provided by House Pazzano as anything else, and the newly promoted Navigator Maturinus also saw this as an excellent chance to prove that his promotion was based on more than just an implicit promise to sell out his Rogue Trader. Forgoing their existing Warp Route that was known around The Cauldron, the Navigator decided to take a chance and plot his own route to Dolorium. Unfortunately, though astronomically it was a short distance in realspace, without a Warp Route and being forced himself to match the pace of the Navigator of the Unrelenting Fury resulted in the journey taking much longer through the Warp than initially expected, and even longer in realspace than they were used to. The journey through the warp was taxing on the crew of the Lumen, with unsettling dreams and short-lived but fierce mutinies spreading through their ship, but the vessel did survive the transit and arrived via a new Warp Route to the Dolorium system.
The system itself was not overly interesting at first glance, a handful of planets with no sign of technological advancement, but that could have just meant that profit, adventure and excitement was hiding from them. Their policy of careful exploration did turn out to yield dividends, as in orbit around one of the planets was the wreckage of what appeared to have been a mighty battle between Imperial forces and the Rak’Gol. The two sides had battled to destruction, as a large force of Imperial transports and support craft had been heavily damaged, along with a few escort ships while the Rak’Gol had suffered grievous losses as well. Three Imperial void ships appeared salvageable, and after verifying that no ships appeared to be in any state to harbour survivors, the Hos Dynasty set out to board the largest of the intact vessels. Some thought was given to attempting to salvage the Rak’Gol vessels, but as they were also quite badly damaged, and the radiation from their vessels obscuring the possibility of any life forms surviving on board, the Lumen used its mighty Lance to break apart what was left of the Rak’Gol fleet while the boarding actions were conducted.
The three “surviving” Imperial ships only barely qualified as such, with extensive damage to their internal systems and dozens of severe hull breaches, not to mention the horribly slaughtered bodies found throughout the ship from the Rak’Gol marauders. The only surviving Light Cruiser was identified as bearing the heraldy of Rogue TRader Djanko Scourge, a Trader not known for his diplomacy. The remainder of the surviving ships all bore a similar grey colour scheme and had heraldry not known even to Captain Hos, but they too would require severe repairs before being voidworthy. The only other thing shared by the Imperial vessels is that the majority of their landing craft were missing – leading the Dynasty to suspect that the survivors had made for orbit on the surrounding planet.
The ice world in orbit did have a human supportable atmosphere, but its range from the dull star of Dolorium meant that the temperatures were far below what could be survived. Careful scans by Lieutenant Nichols did find a slight distress signal coming from a small base established on the surface of the planet. Little more than a portable Imperial structure, it appeared to be a preliminary research base that would be capable of supporting maybe a hundred individuals, along with a research station that appeared to have a massive service elevator to deep within the planet.
Initial attempts to respond to the distress signal had met with failure, but finally a man calling himself as Overseer Leerus responded, and asked if they were there to evacuate the survivors of the massacre. His mood towards the Dynasty quickly soured when they didn’t identify themselves, and when he figured out that they did not represent his “employers” he demanded they leave the planet immediately. Negotiations on this point failed, in part to the Overseer’s recalictrance and also due to the fact that he identified Rak’Gol as existing in the depths of the planet, and he could not maintain vox communication.
Their interest piqued, the Dynasty ignored the Overseer’s request and took the elevator deep into the depths of the planet. The elevator was large, easily capable of accommodating most landing craft, and the journey took over two hours traveling a handful of kilometers straight down. The psychically honed senses of Astropath Eckhart identified a number of life-signs patrolling the depths of the cave – assumed to be Rak’Gol – and a concentration of stationary life signs to the Northwest – assumed to be the survivors. The true identity of the underground structured was soon revealed to be an Egarian maze, similar to the one encountered on Magoros, but much larger and far more intricately laid out. Following a series of lights laid out deep in the complex, the Dynasty arrived at a fortified bunker guarded by two Gun Servitors, which immediately issued a warning that they would open fire if anyone attempted to approach.
Negotiations through the vox with the Overseer ultimately proved fruitless, as Leerus appeared more afraid of his unknown backers than the Rak’Gol, and at Astropath Eckhart’s notification that the Rak’Gol appeared to be converging on their location, the Dynasty withdrew. Upon exit, the maze itself appeared to reconfigure to trap them, creating dead-ends where previously there had once been paths. Arch-Militant Caine began cutting through the wall with his built-in melta, while the Crusaders, Pathfinders, Death Bastards and Inner Council made ready to repel the Rak’Gol.
Though there were less than a dozen Rak’Gol against almost a hundred troops, they were barely able to down the beasts at a rage, and once they had closed to close-combat, they tore through the Hos Dynasty troops as if they were paper. Navigator Maturinus and Astropath Eckhart’s warp powers proved to be their better though, and enough time was bought for Caine to cut through the wall, and the survivors escaped to the surface, whereupon Rogue Trader Hos called for extraction, and deactivated Overseer Leerus’s distress beacon before departing.
The three vessels in orbit were a tempting prize, but neither ship had the ability to salvage a vessel, and with a rescue team potentially arriving soon, the two Dynasty Cruisers abandoned their plan to map the rest of the system, and departed for the Breaking Yards immediately in an attempt to try and find someone who could salvage the ships for them. The Breaking Yards themselves were a confusing jumble of loosely-constructed shipyards – most of which ignored the Dynasty’s request for help. However from the outskirts of the system, they were contacted by a Stryxis convoy, that was happy to trade with the Dynasty.
Making for the empty void beyond the system, the Dynasty arrived at a massive Stryxis convoy, and made to dock in order to meet with the enigmatic Xenos, and see what trade there was there…