The death of Maturinus Pazzano was a heavy loss for the Hos Dynasty, not the least of which was the friendship that existed between himself and the other members. From a tactical standpoint however, the inability to rely on Maturinus’s legendary Navigational ability greatly hampered the Hos Dynasty’s ability to coordinate a defense response across their burgeoning region of space. The famed speed of the In Purgatio Lumen had been augmented in no small part due to Maturinus’s ability to reduce travel time in realspaec and the Warp, and with his loss the decision was made for the time being to wait in Svard for the forces of Winterscale to arrive, rather than risk venturing out and being caught away from their world when the war came.
The first person to make systemfall however was a frigate belonging to Winterscale’s Forces, but one that claimed to have defected from the Rogue Trader’s retinue. Led by a charismatic missionary named Jian Veng, he told of how Winterscale’s ambitions to claim the Heathen Worlds – and Vaporious in particular – was viewed to be an unholy perversion of the Ministorum’s sarced duties. Tales of strife, of the careless loss of entire villages or even cities that were ground under the heels of the Winterscale armies without offering a chance of salvation were told, and Jequin Hos immediately recognised the enormous propoganda potential that this defection offered him.
The next being to enter the system was Farseer Anaris, who had explained his absence by recognising the arrival of the Stryxis, and warned the Hos Dynasty that any further collaboration for them would only doom all involved. Hiding the bargain struck between them, Captain Hos requested a glimpse into the future again to try and determine why the forces of the Svardic Space Defense Fleet appeared to turn against him in the critical moment of the battle. Refusing to believe that his forces could be that disloyal or that infiltration had occured at that scale, his faith was rewarded by a vision showing a great disaster befalling Svard, and that his forces turned on the Hos Dynasty under urging that this was the only way their people could be saved. His vision even identified the source of the disaster – some sort of weapon of mass destruction detonated outside of the main Hive of Svard, which would no doubt carry death and destruction inwards.
Utilizing the Missionary’s allied forces as a joint operation with the Svardic PDF in order to judge their combat effectiveness and sweep the area, an expedition was set out to the region identified by the Rogue Trader’s vision. The first and largest target in the general area was an abandoned outpost city of Svard, once greatly populated in better times. Housed by outcasts and fringe survivors, the traps and defenses were formidable, but ultimately could not stand against the forces of the Dynasty. Sarvus and Caine utilized their physical might to overcome most obstacles, and Astropath Eckhart interrogated the few survivors to see if any of them knew of some sort of widescale terrorist plot. Though he learned much of the people who cared about whether or not Hos had sworn his oath of office aboard a Naval Svardic Flag or not, there was no indication that a widespread terrorist plot had been carried out here.
The next major landmark in the area was the palatial family estate of Lilia Kusinen, a devout political enemy of Jequin Hos, and one the Dynasty took great relish in entering and subjecting to a close examination. Though his people tried to deflect the Dynasty’s curiosity quite adroitly, a thorough enough search was done here to also find any sort of infilitration at this area unlikely. With growing urgency, Hos moved to a central Mechanicus listening post to try and review its records for the last year to pinpoint anything unusual, while the rest of the Dynasty searched the surrounding area. It took many weeks of investigation, but finally the hyper-enhanced senses of Arch-Militant Caine did indeed find a cloaked building in the wastes of Svard, and a confirmation of that area by Jequin Hos did indeed detect some suspicious seismic activity in tha tarea – on the same day as the arrival of Hadarak Fel inside the Svard system no less.
Convinced they had their culprit, the Dynasty made with all haste to that area, and coordinating with a drop-pod assault by Jian’s forces, the battle began. The facility clearly abandoned all attempt at subtlty, and battle servitors as well as automatic defensive weapons opened up on the invading army. With the bulk of his forces not committed to the fight in order to preserve the element of surprise, it was a close fight to breach the walls of the facility incurring many casualties among Jian’s forces and the accompanying troops. Nonetheless, Eckhart, Sarvus and Hos all managed to breach the facility from the front, while Jian led a cadre of his forces from the rear in a flanking action. Arch-Militant Caine would also eventually make it inside, but not before absorbing several expertly-placed Krak rockets which his mighty forcefield managed to deflect.
Inside the facility, the Dynasty members found an extremely advanced Mechanicus shrine, at least to the eyes of Sarvus and Eckhart. Captain Hos however realised that they were in the presence of the heretical Logicians, the beings that had almost overthrown the Ixaniad sector and whose names were of the most traitorous to the Adeptus Mechanicus outside of their forces that had fallen to Chaos. Desiring a chance to further prove his worth to the Mechanicus they made to breach the Shrine itself, but were met in combat by a single Logician who proved a match for the combined forces of all three cobmatants. Eckhart in particular attempted to level his psychich might against the target, only to find that it appeared to have no mind nor soul to its sentience, yet also was clearly no untouchable. The battle only turned when Caine led a small contingent of Dynasty troops into the Shrine, and the Logician then attempted an escape. Desperate to prevent it, Sarvus managed to finally grab the thing while it was leaving and battered it against a wall until it finally shut down.
Meanwhile, Jian had made it inside and to a different area of the facility where he witnessed an Astropath and some sort of minder loading an unknown device on board a landskimmer, assisted by Servitors. Leading his men in a charge, they engaged the mindless robots while he charged in at the pair of living humans. Cursing their name, the female warrior proved an ample bodyguard for a time, engaging and wounding Jian severely until his wrath overpowered her and she dropped down. The Astropath reached out to Jian in an overture of friendship, but was rebuffed by the Missionary who suspected treachery, and quickly dispatched him as well.
The Astropath and his Warden were indeed captured alive, though the Logician appeared to be inert – and upon autopsy without any sort of living brain inside of him at all. The male proved a more than sufficient opponent for Astropath Eckhart, and their duel of mind scanning would be the stuff of ages if anyone were allowed near instead of forced to keep their distance due to the warp disturbances. Ultimately he triumphed however, and the Astropath yielded his secrets: He was a true member of the Astra Telepathica along with his Psylakis Warden, sent as a remote communication device by Winterscale initially to report on the Hos Dynasty and prepare the planet for its inevitable “sale”. They had known of the war, and continued to report back on what they gleamed from civilians via mind scanning, but were unaware of any terrorist plot. They did believe the Logician to be a Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus, who had kept her orders to herself.
Though the pair were spies, they were also clearly members of the Adeptus Telepathica, and unwilling to risk incurring the wrath of another governing Psychic body of the Imperium, the Dynasty decided to ship them back to Port Wander with a sternly worded diplomatic note. The body of the Logician, once drained of fluid and the Captain reasonable sure it was inert, would also be sent for Felicis to study and report back as to if this heretical sect had again raised its head. The “bomb” they had recovered was of a supremely advanced technology, and Sarvus estimated that it was some sort of highly radioactive agent, though without detonating it he couldn’t be completely certain.
With the possibility of a new superweapon in their hands, and a major threat to their security disarmed, the Dynasty at last felt that they were on strong enough footing to be ready to face Winterscale. A resolve that would serve them well, for the time of War would be sooner than any of them foresaw…