Rogue Trader - The Hos Dynasty

The Hos Dynasty Way
Wherein to combat hopelessness, literally any idea is tried.

“Admiral” Jacobus was left behind in the hollow lost in the Processional of the Damned. The In Purgatio Lumen had taken some damage in the fight with Jacobus’s fleet, but had managed to convince Captain Legate of the Grace of Jaccobus to join forces with them to try and escape. The information she provided was not reassuring though. Her vessel had tried for a number of months to escape, all without success. Eckhart and Maturinus both agreed that given the increasing warp interference there might be some sort of solution at the center of the system, where the course was laid for.

Days passed in the absolute silence of the void of this system, before another ring of vesesls was reached, this time a series of apparently salvageable – if not fully functional – space hulks. Captain Hos was tempted by the possibility of ancient, long-lost secrets while Explorator Felicis was drawn in by the promise of Xenotech, but ultimately the Dynasty chose to continue travelling inside the system, possibly returning to the hulks if they ran out of leads.

To bolster the crew’s spirits, and indulge his desire to constantly one-up himself, Astropath Eckhart challenged the crew to a race on the outside of the ship on the Dark Eldar Jetbikes like he’d always wanted. Valencia Mercutio of the Death Bastards accepted the challenge, and the pair managed to surprisingly successfully navigate the towers and devotional statues on the outside of the ship, and even though the Astropath failed to win, the crew was momentarily distracted from their situation.

The next mystery of the Processional came in a thin, all-encompassing dust cloud blocking their path. Seeing absolutely no danger, but a chance to further impress the crew, First Officer Eckhart opened fire on the cloud with the full fury of their lance battery for the duration of their transit – which lasted almost for an entire day before finding an exit. Proceeding on they encountered another Space Hulks, in apparently another orbit. Passing it up as they did the last, they again arrived at a dust cloud, leading Felicis to speculate they may once again have their navigational sensors distorted. The Dynasty promptly took this out on the dust cloud and opened up with their lance on it again.

The dust cloud parted to reveal more empty space, but this time it did not lead to more space hulks, but rather a shadowy planet just slightly off course from their current location. Deciding to ignore it, the Dynasty proceeded on before a frantic vox transmission from the Faith of Jacobus that the creatures termed the “”/characters/hollow-men-2" class=“wiki-content-link”>Hollow Men" had somehow landed on their vessel and were hacking inside. Eckhart left to patrol the outside of the Lumen, while Maturinus led the Hos Dynasty Platoons in defense of the vessel, and Felicis used the Guncutters to strafe the outside of the Frigate to whittle down the creatures on its hull.

The creatures lived up to their name, apparently being nothing but a well-armoured void suit with cutting tools. Unfortunately these numbered in the hundreds, and as Maturinus found out, they were quite difficult to put down with conventional weaponry. Relying heavily on his warp eye and plasma pistol, Maturinus led the defense inside the ship, joined eventually by Eckhart mounted aboard his jetbike. The platoons did eventually sweep through the interior and exterior of the vessel cleansing the Hollow Men, but the damage to the frigate left it at the point where the survivors consolidated aboard the Lumen, and it would be towing the Corvette crewed only by basic servitors.

By this point the dark star was now plainly visible blocking out the backdrop of stars inside this cursed system. Unfortunately there was one last obstacle between them and the star – another array of fully functional Void Wasps, finalizing Felicis’s theory that this may indeed be a Yu’Vath stranglehold. Unwilling to turn back, the crew combined their power and bucked the gravity well that was keeping them locked in this perpetual ring, and barely managed to fly “over” the array, and towards the star.

At this distance, the star itself did actually seem like a star, giving off intense light and heat, and no sign of any sort of path out of the system. Nonetheless, having come this far the crew steeled themselves and dove towards its heart. Their ship buckled and twisted, and began to deform under the heat, but impossibly as they reached the point of no return Maturinus felt a warp route open up, and they entered the warp, and left this cursed system.

The system they landed in was surprisingly pleasant and approachable, with favourable gravity currents and a number of planets ripe for exploration. Their best astrographic guess was that they were in the region of The Accursed Demesne known as the Alembic Depths, which was almost entirely unexplored. Sensing opportunity, they set course for the nearest gas giant to restore some sense of normalcy to their crew.

The gas giant itself had a large number of moons orbitting it, which were rich in radioactive materials that are incredibly valuable to starship reactors, but there were signs of crude mining apparatuses on the larger moons. The gas giant itself was obscured by stellar rings and dust clouds, but Void Mistress Nichols found signs of radioactive power sources inside it as well… moving towards the Lumen. Locking on to the strongest, the crew opened up with its lance battery, only to uncover a Rak’Gol cruiser, larger than anything they had seen before. And then its esecort vessel. And a number of vessels from the outskirts of the system converging on them.

The crew frantically used the teamwork that evaded the Void Wasps to frantically burn away from planets, weathering blows from the pair of Rak’Gol vessels closest to them before their incredible warp-aided speed boosted them far enough away to shut down all systems and hope they went undetected. A few days of powerless coasting to warp range, and the crew decided to get the Chaos-tainted Hell out of that system and aim in the direction of The Cauldron, hoping that it would be more hospitable.

The system they emerged in next had a large number of signals from within indicating the presence of a reasonably advanced civilization – that were not screaming obscenities like a Rak’Gol would – and the Captain set course to investigate where they had landed this time…

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Conspiracies and Assassins
Wherein drinking is the solution to all problems

Navigator Maturinus and Arch-Militant Caine had managed to fight off the robed attacker that had come for them and Astropath Soloket, but their fight had not gone un-observed, and three had broken off from the group to approach them. Retreating further into the building, they boarded themselves in a room to make a stand against their attackers, who advanced under the cover of a smokescreen. One of them managed to heavily wound Astropath Soloket before being dispatched by Maturinus, while Caine handily disposed of his attacker. There was no sign of the third, but rather than waiting for more attackers, Caine blasted out the back of the house and the trio made their escape into the mazes of Footfall, hoping to escape their attacker.

Captain Hos and Astropath Eckhart in the meantime managed to reach the Black Brotherhood stronghold, but apart from the vox-scrambling field in effect the power to most of the facilities of Footfall had been disabled. Calcus had planned to lead his people into the caves of Footfall that he was familiar with, and invited the Captain and his Honour Guard to join him, but insisted that once they had found a secure spot to fortify, they would be attacking anyone that approached them so this would be a one-time deal. Unwilling to sit this out, the group also decided to make their way from their location to the docking bay to attempt to escape.

Outside of Footfall, cut off from everyone, Explorator Felicis was making his way to the bridge of the In Purgatio Lumen, being briefed on the situation by Lieutenant Nichols. Moments before his arrival, the void defenses around Footfall had activated, and a broadcast had gone out ordering all vessels to withdraw from immediate orbit, and any attempt to enter or escape would be met with lethal force. One free captain Frigate had attempted to breach this cordon, and had been torn apart by the defenses.

Felicis pretended that the Captain had the situation in hand, which was useful when Lady Sun Lee contacted him from the bridge of the Nihontu, requesting the Captain’s aide in stabilizing the situation, and preventing any potential culprits from escaping during the confusion of the situation. This was a plan that the Explorator would eagerly go along with, and he exerted his full diplomatic authority in the name of the Captain to tie the groups together, and prevent anyone from fleeing before this crisis was over.

Thanks to a fortunate turn of fate, the two groups on Footfall managed to reunite, and intended to head to the docking bay to try and escape – unaware of the potential danger in doing so. Fortunately for the group, the only person capable of navigating the back passages of Footfall was Navigator Maturinus, and he refused to leave without more information, and “accidentally” led the group to the Renowned Blessing, the Rogue Trader bar that Captain Hos had visited long ago. Emerging onto the more prosperous streets of Footfall, they found dozens of people lying dead in the streets – a few of the robed cultists and Fel’s guards among them, but the majority appeared to be civilians of Footfall, cut down by the blades of the cultists.

The Renowned Blessing had either been attacked or looted, but at least it was reasonably defensible and not filled with people shooting at them. There was a sealed room in the rear compartment that Eckhart mentally confirmed had survivors in it, but they were unwilling to open the door for the group, and the Explorers decided not to push it for the moment. With the situation somewhat confirmed, both Astropath Eckhart and Soloket opened their mind to the warp, and attempted to establish contact with Astropath Poe on the Lumen to retrieve intelligence – despite the latter having apparently never sent to the Hos Dynasty before.

Fortunately for the group, the distance the Cruiser had put from Footfall was no problem at all to an Astropath, and the message reached Poe without problem. Felicis informed the people on Footfall of what had happened in the intervening time – himself, Lady Sun Lee, Abel Garret, Maximus Caughran and Captain Persyn of the Fist of Dorn all committed their vessels into maintaining order, and discouraging anyone from attempting to flee. Relaying through Poe the situation, he informed the group that fleeing Footfall would be unlikely, but transit between asteroids would be much harder to target. He suggested the group attempt to infiltrate the Adeptus Mechanicus shrines to regain control of the system’s defenses, and that he would lead his Combat Engineseers in one of the Dark Eldar transports which would hopefully baffle Footfall’s sensors.

The Explorers waited for Felicis to finish his plan, during which another announcement came over the vox, presumably from the attackers, saying that if the people of Footfall killed and filled the gems carried by each cultist with enough people’s blood, they would be ignored during this sweep. After a few minutes, while on watch Caine detected one such person murdering another and attempting to fill the blood into one of the gems. Caine easily stealthed up on the lightly armed man and captured him. He appeared to just be a random terrified citizen who was otherwise a servant of Jonquin Saul, but the true information from his capture was that the gem was not any sort of warp technology, but perhaps some sort of technology. Setting out to the docking bay to seize an Aquila, and were ambushed along the way by a number of these cultists, whose sword work was no less deadly, but much less effective in the face of the organised ranged weapons fighting against them.

In the meantime, compiling the practice of the Death Bastards with Dark Eldar gear, and his own brilliant leaps of logic, had worked out the basics of how to fly a Dark Eldar lander – in that he could point and make it go – and he proceeded to the AdMech shrine. He did manage to land bypassing the exterior defenses, but was quickly picked up by the automatic spirits inside. His lander was quickly torn apart by built-in heavy bolters, and only by directing the Engineseers to provide cover fire was he able to reach a control panel and shut down the defenses – just in time for the rest of the Dynasty to arrive and secure the shrine. The Inner Council was now reunited, and it was time to solve the mystery.

The Adeptus Mechanicus shrine was oddly empty, but in the “heart” of the Shrine lay the temple to the Omnissiah, from which came a regular binary chanting that the Explorator identified as standard praises to the Machine-God. The shrine would not open for them, but a vox servitor conveyed the words of Tech-Priest Raythus from within. Using his influence and familiarity with the Mechanicus, the Explorator convinced the workers to reveal their part in the plan, which the Tech-Priest was more than happy to do. He informed the group that the Adeptus Mechanicus were contacted by an unknown party, and in exchange for their cooperation in this endeavour to assassinate the Liege of Footfall, would be granted a great trove of Archeotech.

After securing a pledge from Explorator Felicis that the Adeptus Mechanicus would not suffer from revealing all information, they presented the Dynasty with a transponder that would allow them to ignore Footfall’s defenses, as well as schematics for a fearsome robotic assassin that had been dispatched to Liege’s Court to assassinate Tanthus Moross. The party that had hatched this plot was still unknown, and the Explorers were torn between blaming Hadarak Fel, Vladayam Tocara, or possibly both. They headed back to the Lumen, and after leaving Rogue Trader Hos to further coordinate the Rogue Traders’ response, the rest of the Explorers loaded up with heavy weapons, and set off to rescue the Liege.

The court itself was under lockdown, but hailing and submitting to scans, they were permitted to dock. The docking bays and surrounding corridors were littered with bodies of cultists and Liege’s Court guards. Further along they met a security checkpoint, and Eckhart used his personal connection with the Liege to be granted an audience, but they were not permitted to enter with enough weapons to decimate a small area, only the Explorers themselves entered while the rest of their troops were fortifying key areas into the Liege’s personal fortress.

The Liege himself was unconcerned about the potential assassination, saying that it was not the first attempt on his life. He was gracious towards their help, and offered his quarters to the Dynasty while they waited for this so-called assassin. Navigator Maturinus was offended by Moross’s attitude, and set off to find Captain Sylvia Locke, who had been stationed in the underbelly of Liege’s Court. The Captain herself had been aware of the situation, but merely waited in her quarters to review her paperwork, and was pleased to see the Navigator. Her conversation reaffirmed what they had previously suspected – her assignment was punishment for her actions in Damaris, something that the Captain did not regret, and saw this as a chance to force the Battlefleet to reconcile their actions with abandoning the people of the Expanse. Maturinus convinced the Captain to hand over her files regarding the Cold Trade to him, so that the captain could use his influence to thwart the Cold Trade, and perhaps make her job easier. A proposition to which Captain Locke agreed.

While the Navigator was away, the peace and forced tranquility of the Liege’s headquarters was shattered by the robotic assassin bursting through the roof, and tearing apart a nearby servant. The door to the chamber had seized up during the attack, and Astropath Eckhart was horrified to realise that the assassin had a daemon engine inside of it, making it leagues more dangerous than what they were anticipating. Felicis attempted to use the shutdown code given to him, while Eckhart and Caine engaged it in combat. The robotic assassin was slowly whittled down by the pair, but it still managed to break through and attack Tanthus Moross – who promptly vanished from his dais. Badly damaged, the thing attempted to flee, until Felicis managed to issue a forced shutdown to the thing, which did shut down its mechanical components leaving it helpless. The daemon within forced the machine back into operation, but that brief break was all Eckhart and Caine needed to deliver one final volley that banished the spirit back into the warp.

The ruined and dead hulk of the machine crashed into the ground, and although the threat was over, Moross was still missing from the room, and there were now more questions raised as to who had forged this unholy engine…

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Dramatic Changes Enjoyed By Most
Wherein everything in Footfall gets turned upside-down.

Footfall is one of the busiest ports of call in the Koronus Expanse, but now that the In Purgatio Lumen had begun announcing its presence following their clandestine delivery of Xenos, they became aware that there was far more going on than expected. Hailing Liege’s Court to request the traditional first meal with the Liege, they were greeted with fanfare and music, welcoming them to the Sanguinala celebration inside of Footfall, and that all were welcome to attend the week-long festivities held at the Court – sponsored by Hadarak Fel! They were reminded upon arrival to present their tribute for their guest of honour, Battlefleet Captain Sylvia Locke!

Scans of the area did not reveal the Aegis anywhere in system, although a Battlefleet frigate named the Pugnus Imperator was identified as in-system, and confirmed that it was under the command of Sylvia Locke, currently attending at Liege’s Court as a guest. The Battlefleet was reticent to divulge any more information than that, so the Explorers decided to land on Footfall itself to acquire a fitting tribute for the Captain prior to their arrival.

Footfall itself was greatly transformed. The normal chaotic swarming marketplace had been quieted down, and stalls now openly displayed goods for commerce, while grey-clad guards patrolled keeping order. The source of the increased revenue and uncertainty were all due to Hadarak Fel, who had contributed his private security force for the duration of the event, and was voluntarily giving out a set allowance per day to every person on Footfall. Captain Hos and Astropath Eckhart immediately gave authorization to the crew to organise regular shore leaves with which to spur the morale of their exhausted crew, and further drain the coffers of Hadarak Fel.

Finding an appropriate tribute for a Battlefleet captain wasn’t easy, but the captain decided to find an appropriate military weapon. Though most merchants wouldn’t carry something so appropriate, a petition to Baxter Abhay to pry himself away from the current “celebration” he was enjoying did result in the Dynasty acquiring an antique boltgun certified to have been used in the times of the Great Crusade by the Dark Angels crusade. Despite Explorator Felicis’s attempts to hold on to such a rare piece of archeotech, and Captain Hos very persuasively insisting that he was really looking for more a Blood Angels boltgun, the Dynasty contented themselves with what they had found, and set off for Liege’s Court to present their prize.

The Court itself was thrown open, with wealthy merchants and chartist captains in attendance, and holo performances and strange musical accompaniments far beyond what was seen on Footfall-proper. Meeting Vladaym Tocara, the Dynasty elected to present their gift in person, and Captain Hos made a great speech praising the Battlefleet and their actions at Damaris, and the honours paid to him and his Dynasty – hoping that the antique weapon would be accepted as proof of his appreciation for their continued joint efforts. Captain Locke throughout this speech did not make any significant reactions, and at its end flatly refused the gift, which was met by uproarious laughter from the assembled crowd, and a set of jeers.

Confused, the Dynasty attempted to get further information out of the Captain, but she was unwilling to further expand on the point, and the Liege seated next to her on the dais was equally unforthcoming. With no other information, the Explorers mingled amongst the crowd to figure out the theme of that evening. Astropath Eckhart and Arch-Militant Caine gathered enough information from the crowd that Captain Locke had been recently appointed to perform interdiction for smuggling in the Koronus Expanse, and assigned as a liaison to the Liege’s Court. Resenting the intrusion of the Imperium, the people of Footfall gradually began disrespecting her more and more, until this festival was formed where their mocking became open – many theorized that was the entire point of the event in the first place.

As this was occurring, Captain Hos and Explorator Felicis found Lady Sun Lee among the crowd and discussed Hadarak Fel’s role in all of these events. The other Rogue Trader suspected he had spent a not inconsiderate amount of his personal money on ensuring the event went off, and that he must be after some sort of goal – especially since it had now resorted to insulting the Imperium, which not even a Rogue Trader should sanction. Seizing the initiative to turn the event away from Hadarak Fel, the Captain caught wind that there was a group of players about to perform the Ultimate Failure of Sanguinius, a play purporting to show Sanguinius’s final confrontation with Horus as a comical failure on all levels for the Primarch, and was something that would definitely not be allowed in the Imperium.

Clad in his golden power armour, Captain Hos persuaded the group that he should take the role of Sanguinius, and proceeded to “act” in the play, following the script of failure, but making numerous asides to the audience questioning the factual basis of this play. His asides were initially aided by Navigator Maturinus, until the Navigator’s loud, derisive mocking of the entire play got him thrown out. Captain Hos’s performance culminated in the confrontation with the actor playing Horus, whereupon the Captain took out his power sword and, despite not engaging the power field, neatly skewered that actor through the stomach.

Initially the audience didn’t know what to think of this, although the actor began loudly screaming and cursing until the Rogue Trader pointedly thumbed the activator for the power sword, and the actor followed his script and “struck down” Sanguinius with his completely not-real sword. The audience was spurred to applause through careful manipulation from Eckhart and Felicis’s actions spurring the crowd to applause, and Caine menacingly threatening anyone who thought to object to the performance. Taking his bow, and ensuring the actor got some medical attention, the Inner Circle left the court to thunderous applause, and swiftly before anyone started asking inconvenient questions.

The next day, the Captain agreed to attend a Rogue Trader-only event aboard the Righteous Zeal, captained by Maximus Caughran. a minor Rogue Trader bequested a warrant by the Adeptus Mechanicus and had used his Warrant to enter the Koronus Expanse and sell what he could find to finance a life of indulgence. The upside of this is that the party was fantastic, and apart from Lady Sun Lee and Abel Gerrit being in attendance, there were a number of other Rogue Traders with minor warrants, but it was still an excellent chance for the Captain to network and pimp his two colony worlds. Unfortunately the party was somewhat spoiled by the arrival of Hadarak Fel, who was much less pleasant towards the Rogue Trader, and after some initially hostile and baited words, the Captain soon after made his exit from the rest of the group.

The remainder of the Dynasty spent the day on Footfall attempting to discern what Fel’s endgoal for Footfall was, but were unable to reach any consensus. The day ended with the Captain yet again crashing the performance of Pride Begets the Sin of Damnation, where the Blood Angels attempted to board a space hulk only to fall victim en masse to the Tyranids. Captain Hos again took a role as the first Space Marine to fall to the Tyranids, and after delivering an exceptionally inspiring speech as to the virtues of the Space Marines ultimate sacrifice, he broke down the “door” to the Space Hulk with his power sword turned on, easily disintegrating the cheap plywood structure and vaporizing the door beyond. After reassuring the Tyranids that he knew his role was to die in the name of the Emperor, he was “killed” and the play proceeded as expected.

The last day before Sanguinala had the Explorers split up to accomplish a few more goals before the big event. Captain Hos and Astropath Eckhart arranged through Calcus Calinnicus to meet with representatives of the Footfall Cold Trade to discuss finally unloading their Dark Eldar gear. The person they met with in the depths of Footfall was not receptive to their meeting. Captain Hos was unwilling to reveal the full extent of what they had salvaged, and felt the amount offered for the weapons they had provided as a sample was far under what they had been worth. The meeting ended with dismissal by the Cold Trade, and words from the Captain not to insult, nor underestimate him.

Navigator Maturinus and Arch-Militant Caine went to Warpsbane Alley for another session with Astropath Attar Soloket. Although the aged Astropath was not immediately present, she soon returned and pleasantly greeted the two, giving them some homemade soup, and a warning that they had to immediately leave or they would be killed with everyone else. After some prodding, the pair believed her words, and issued a general withdrawal to all Dynasty forces, and Arch-Militant Caine also attempted to grab the Astropath and leave.

The residents of the Alley may have been the detritus of Footfall, but not even they could stomach a kidnapping. Blocking the exit of Arch-Militant Caine, the mutated strength of a few of them were enough to contain even his robotic frame, and after Soloket reluctantly informed them that there was no longer any time, they returned to her tent for a briefing as to the situation. Explorator Felicis thankfully was still investigating Rogue Trader Fel, and was among the first to reach the asteroid and escape. Shortly after the Explorator’s exit, a message came over the internal vox systems that Footfall had been locked down, and everyone inside of it was to die to properly mourn the death of Sanguinius. Captain Hos and Astropath Eckhart were unfortunately still in their meeting at the time of this alert, and having missed this message were unable to reach the docking bay in time.

Exiting the meeting, the group were informed of what had transpired by Callignius, and they departed for the Black Brotherhood’s stronghold to make a stand. En route, they were followed by a red-robed figure who Captain Hos attempted to negotiate with, but found that she was unwilling to listen, slowly stalking towards the Rogue Trader, before lashing out with a pair of exquisitely crafted swords. Eckhart attempted to use his psychic powers to pin her down, but found she was somehow able to shrug them off, and proceeded to attack the pair with frightening efficiency. Though her blades shouldn’t have been able to penetrate Eckhart’s psychic armour, they managed to bite deep enough to draw blood before she went down, and the Astropath required emergency aide to prevent himself from bleeding out.

The Navigator and Arch-Militant were equally unlucky in their attempts to avoid. A large number of these figures swarmed Warpsbane Alley and began slaughtering the inhabitants. The pair took Astropath Soloket to hide in one of the buildings nearby, but they did not evade detection and the Navigator was badly wounded in the ensuring fight before Caine managed to bring their attacker down.

The Dynasty was now separated, and sounds of violence and death began to echo through the corridors of Footfall…

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Forced Relocation
Wherein kidnapping is defined as okay for PCs

The Stryxis caravan on the outskirts of the SR-651 Breaking Yards was quite eager to make the acquaintance of the Dynasty, and welcomed the Inner Council onto their modified Imperial Light Cruiser that formed the “heart” of their caravan. Greeted by rows of faceless, vat-grown servitors they were quickly ushered to the small, trinket-strewn den of the caravan leader. The façade of the over-eager trader soon vanished once the Xenos caught sight of Astropath Eckhart’s armour, and the creature sat down for bargaining.

Obviously, Jequin Hos and Artifex Felicis were eager to salvage the three vessels they had found in orbit over Dolorium, the unique nature of Stryxis bargaining made such a proposition difficult, as they would be unwilling to discuss favours or other abstract representations of money – they would only take firm goods. The possibility of selling the location of the vessels in exchange for other void ships from the convoy was also tossed about, but eventually the Dynasty decided to trade two of the salvaged vessels in exchange for towing one to Svard. For the purpose of their burgeoning army movement, the Dynasty selected to keep the damaged Galaxy-Class Troop Transport, and offer the other two to the Stryxis – terms which the Xenos agreed to.

The Stryxis were eager to secure the ships, as their true owners could return at any time, so the enigmatic creatures moved on. The Dynasty chose to pursue its goal of heading to Melbethe and completing the quest they had been asked for. Navigator Maturinus was also more confident in the speed of transition on his own, so the Unrelenting Fury of the Void was ordered to stay in the Breaking Yards and make inquiries on behalf of the Dynasty to acquire new System Defense Fleets for the Hos Dynasty’s increasing colonial presence.

Alone, the journey to Melbethe was indeed fast, and after only a few days – relatively – of Warp Travel, the In Purgatio Lumen reached the outskirts of the Melbethe system. The exact location of the Xenos they had been asked to procure was unknown, so Captain Hos prepared to make a sweep of the six identified planets in system. Providence provided however, when Magos Isabella Stein asked to be dropped off at a specific planet, as she had hoped to capture and research a Xenos specimen there matching the description they had been sent for. When questioned about it, the Magos informed the Dynasty – at length – that the species had been long sought, but those willing to risk travelling close to The Accursed Demesne were few and far between.

Allowing the Magos to land on the planet, and then landing in a nearby cave system, the Inner Council supported by the Pathfinders and Crusaders began a hunt of their own. The navigational capabilities of Navigator Maturinus proved as strong on land as in the void, and Arch-Militant Caine’s enhanced cybernetic frame made him perfect to range ahead of the cave dwellers and scout the cave system. The psychic senses of Astropath Eckhart managed to identify one straggler which Caine apprehended, and from it Explorator Felicis was able to synthesize a toxin that might help them capture more.

The journey into the depths of the world took four days, but they finally were able to narrow down a large nest of these creatures, and preparations were made to capture a large number of creatures. Correctly identifying them as acting on instinct, the plan was to suddenly appear in force, make a large amount of noise, and attack with as much ferocity as possible – capturing any that survived. The bat-creatures were initially drawn to the sound of what may have been prey moving through the tunnel, but in the face of lasrifles and plasma blasts, their cautious approach quickly turned to full retreat.

Dozens of the creatures fell or were trampled in the retreat, and half a dozen healthy specimens were tranquilized and successfully captured. The cave itself seemed unremarkable, although Captain Hos found a piece of ancient and discarded pottery that, while interesting, was not enough to convince him to further explore the bowels of this planet, and the Dynasty returned to the surface. The ascent went quite well as the creatures were now “behind” them, and the Dynasty returned to the surface with their prize in tow.

Retrieving an equally successful Magos Stein, Captain Hos ordered a full sweep of the system to ensure nothing was missed, but the other five worlds seemed to lack a human-sustainable atmosphere, and were dismissed as unremarkable. Explorator Felicis attempted to convince Magos Stein of his abilities, but his forays into experimenting with the Xenos’s poison were unimpressive at best.

The return to Inti and Svard went smoothly, and finally the Dynasty left for Footfall to deliver the Xenos to the Spire of Intoxicants. Despite attempts to hail their Inquisitorial contact, there was nothing but silence waiting for them to guide the creatures through the lonely halls of the asteroid. The waiting area was deserted, but did have a number of cages suitable for containing the Xenos, and lacking any option the Dynasty delivered the creatures and departed.

Their journey back to the Lumen was interrupted by a brief ambush by gangers – but the initial onslaught was only successful at disorienting the Dynasty, and once they recovered they easily routed the desperate gang members, with Captain Hos recruiting the most brazen of them to serve in his Honour Guard. Though the lack of human contact was off-putting, the return to the Lumen was met with confirmation that they had received payment for their mission, and it was time to focus their minds on their next endeavour.

And also to figure out what all the commotion around Footfall was right now.

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Shakedown Cruiser
Wherein the Dynasty finds a new toy, and meets some uncooperative jerks

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…

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PROMOTIONS!!!
Wherein everybody sells out Jequin Hos

The xenos invasion of Damaris was finally over: The Orkish forces of Warboss Snokgritz were scattered and disorganised following the death of their leader, and the ambush from Craftworld Kaelor had ended with the complete destruction of the Eldar fleet facing the fragile yet powerful alliance of the Hos Dynasty, Battlefleet Koronus, the Damaris System Defense Force, Da Ship Eata and Farseer Anaris. Unfortunately with the conclusion of the threat, Captain Locke was manoeuvering her Light Cruiser into an attack run on the Whisper of Anaris, Kap’n Chaintusk was rallying the remainder of the Ork forces under his banner and Astropath Eckhart was leading a boarding party on what was left of the enemy Eldar vessel in order to ensure the death of the Eldar Autarch that had been plaguing them.

The primary concern for Captain Hos was to disarm the situation and prevent further violence between erstwhile allies, especially since his forces were greatly diminished: the In Purgatio Lumen and In Obscurum Veritas had been heavily damaged, and the Emperor’s Bounty had been all but crippled. Explorator Felicis also still had hopes of capturing the Whisper of Anaris for Magos-Commodore Trannarch, and the pair contacted the Battlefleet captain in the hopes of getting her to stand down. Between forcing her to acknowledge the assistance of the Whisper of Anaris in the defense of the system, and their tacit acknowledgement that she was under orders to quit the system and report to her superiors, they were able to persuade the Captain to stand down, and leave the system to make her report. Despite her concern at the two Xenos forces allied with the Hos Dynasty, she nonetheless admitted her respect for their actions in the system’s defense, and would be making a report that would recognise their accomplishments, and diminish any “questionable” actions on their behalf.

In the midst of this discussion, Astropath Eckhart and the Death Bastards landed on the ruined Eldar Eclipse Cruiser to ensure that their foe would not return to plague them further. Making their way through the ship, large portions of the vessel had been destroyed by the torpedo volley from the Under Wry Beginnings, and what few Eldar crew they ran into were very clearly dead. Partway through the hull of the ship, they encountered giant, mobile statues methodically making their way through the corridors of the Cruiser and retrieving soul stones from the bodies of the fallen. Identified as Wraithguard by Captain Hos and Explorator Felicis, the boarding party was paid no attention by the Wraithguard as they methodically swept the ship retrieving the stones from the fallen. Eckhart attempted to grab a random soul stone for his own, but was identified by the Wraithguard as possessing one and elected to surrender the stone to them, rather than risk a confrontation. The subsequent sweep of the fallen did not identify the body of the Eldar Autarch among them, and although the crew hoped that he had simply been slain outright by the battle, they held little hope.

Felicis and Eckhart remained behind with the Veritas and the Bounty to secure any salvageable Eldar artifacts, while Navigator Maturinus and Arch-Militant Caine intimidated the Orks back in line, and forged yet another “treasure map”, this time pointing the Orkish fleet squarely in the middle of Winterscale’s Realm. The Lumen and the Damaris SDF returned to the capital, to find that Rogue Traders Blitz and Orleans had only been lightly challenged during the absence. And with return comes celebration.

As the brainwashing of General Dante also appears to have held, Captain Hos’s tenure as current Governor of the system had gone unchallenged. Although intending to hold true to his bargain of turning control of the system over to Ibram Calgar, he was going to stall for as long as possible in order to get his fleet repaired at The Bulwark. Thus began the thirty-day celebration and victory tour. Nobility parties were attended, feasts and awards were given and the idle rich were entertained with fascinating stories of derring-do and high adventure.

Although Rogue Trader Blitz was more than happy to join in his share of the celebration, Rogue Trader Orleans was absent from a large portion of the festivities. Maturinus and Caine tracked her down to a tour of the outer regions, where she was inspecting the damage caused from the Ork attack and building a list of supplies she would need to retrieve on her next run – though they suspected that something else was behind her reticence.

The day of the great handover finally came, and both ex-Governor Kapak and General Dante gave speeches praising the people of Damaris and the assistance from beyond, and acknowledging the importance of standing together in the face of adversity. Rogue Trader Hos also humbly thanked the people of Damaris, and introduced Calgar as the next Governor to replace him – a role that Calgar refused, and to great acclaim of the crowd insisted that Captain Hos remain Governor of the planet.

Though caught off guard, Jequin Hos was capable of navigating such unexpected social situations on autopilot, which was good as Astropath Eckhart immediately started a Psychic conversation with the Inner Council. Humbly thanking the crowd, the Council made to “discuss the future of this world” and were invited into a meeting with Rogue Trader Orleans, who apologized for the abrupt warning but felt that it was in the best interest of her planet that the Dynasty remain in control of the world – and its defense. She was aware that the Battlefleet was ordered to not protect the world, and the resources of the Hos Dynasty could ensure the security of the planet. To sweeten the deal, she pledged the support of her Transport fleet to support the Dynasty, as their actions could now be said to benefit Damaris, and to turn control of the Envoy of Damaris over to the Hos Dynasty.

Captain Hos was wary about appearing to have been bought in such a fashion, but the rest of the Dynasty still talked him around to accepting the terms. Announcing to the planet that he would be appointing Jorun Alexander as his representative for the time being, the Dynasty made to return to Svard to consolidate their power, and unwind from the intense months of activity. On their way out of the system, they had one final meeting with Farseer Anaris, who thanked them for their support, and hoped that the bonds of friendship between them would continue to grow. He offered to show the Hos Dynasty how to navigate the Eldar Webway in a limited fashion – enough to move between Svard, Damaris and Inti. However, Navigator Maturinus strongly warned against such an option as it was inherently unsafe to rely on Xenos.

Upon their return to Svard, the Dynasty spent the next 100 days restocking their lost crew members, consolidating trade agreements and working on their next plan of action. For the most part the time spent was relaxing and the crew got to unwind, right up until Magos Commodore Gnothis Trannarch arrived in the Ascendence of the Omnissiah and demanded to speak to Artifex Felicis regarding his latest activities. Revealing that he was aware of the Xenotech heresy perpetrated up to now, and the death of Magos Hadron Shard, and that his activities were not beyond monitoring.

Felicis attempted to defend himself by saying his actions were all taken on behalf of Rogue Trader Hos, to which the Magos-Commodore beamed the Rogue Trader to his vessel so Felicis could better explain his actions. Panicked beyond coherence, the Magos teleported Felicis back to the Veritas to discuss matters with the Rogue Trader in private. Once alone, Trannarch succinctly reminded Captain Hos that the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus were powerful leagues beyond the Rogue Trader’s, but that the research conducted by Explorator Felicis could be useful, as long as he believed that he should be afraid of reprisal. Captain Hos cheerfully accepted the implicit threat by the Magos-Commodore, and pledged to do his best to keep Felicis terrified.

The last order of business came from a meeting between Navigator Maturinus and Navigator Dionisio of House Pazzano, to discuss the blasphemous Eldar Webway that the Farseer had offered access to. Such a thing could potentially destablize the Navis Nobilite, and was unacceptable to both Navigators. Though Dionisio was not prepared to believe the word of a Xenos wholesale, he did agree to send more Pazzano Navigators to aid the Hos Dynasty fleet, and promoted Maturinus to a senior position to better watch over Captain Hos. There were also very clear orders that if the Captain attempted to use this Xenos method of faster-than-light travel, Maturinus was to report him at once for what would almost certainly be execution.

Terms to which Maturinus agreed…

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The Last Stand of the Hos Dynasty
Wherein the Dynasty Fights a Hopeless Battle

With an Eldar attack force closing in on them, and reinforcements from Damaris more than twenty minutes out, the Explorers found themselves in quite the pickle. Explorator Artifex Felicis headed to the engine room to overcharge the engines, and preserve their distance over the Eldar fighters as much as he could, while interrogating Farseer Anaris as to the origin of the Eldar following them. The Farseer identified them as members of Craftworld Kaelor, but couldn’t specify any further as to their role.

Uncertain if they could outrun their pursuer, Rogue Trader Jequin Hos once again opened communication with their pursuers, and was somewhat surprised to receive a response from the Eldar, entreating them to land and giving their word to have an open and honest discussion under a flag of truce. Though Arch-Militant Caine and Navigator Maturinus both advised against this, Explorator Felicis and Astropath Eckhart both supported the idea – the latter if only to get the Eldar close enough to kill.

Flanked by his remaining Honour Guard and all members of the Inner Council – barring Navigator Maturinus who elected to remain on the Guncutter and aim the heavy bolters at the Eldar – the Dynasty finally met their enemies. Autarch Quai Hon’os of Craftworld Kaelor cordially greeted the explorers, and politely asked whether or not they would allow themselves to be killed in order to end this pursuit. Unsurprisingly, this offer was refused, especially since they had no idea why they had to die at the hands of the Eldar in the first place.

The Autarch was all-too-happy to explain that the mighty Farseers of their Craftworld had identified this group as ones that will be responsible for determining the fate of their Craftworld, and unwilling to allow humans to decide their fate, the Eldar decided to eliminate this potential threat before it had a chance. Although Astropath Eckhart furiously proclaimed that this was most likely going to result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, the Autarch was uncaring to his objections, saying that the destiny had been foretold if the Eldar did nothing, and that their efforts were an attempt to end this conflict. As the Dynasty were unwilling to die, and Damaris reinforcements were coming, the Eldar departed to consult with their Farseer to see if the foretold destiny had at all changed. Before leaving though, the Autarch left his expertly-crafted sword for the Rogue Trader, and a promise that he would be returning to collect it.

With the long day of ambushes over, the Dynasty was finally able to consult the information retrieved from the communication outpost, that appeared to have pinpointed the location of the Orkish Rok production facility. With this being their best shot to cripple the Orkish invasion, the Dynasty decided to take the In Purgatio Lumen, the In Purgatio Veritas and the Emperor’s Bounty, as well as Captain Locke and herLight Cruiser and a number of the Damaris Defense Force Raiders and destroy the facility once and for all.

A few of the Raiders were left behind to guard Damaris in case of another Ork attack, along with Rogue Traders Orleans and Blitz and their respective vessels. The Captain was also inspired to leave Orkifex under the guard of the Hufflepuffs on their captured Ork Kroozer and its working Teleporter. His plan was to open the attack by teleporting the Ork bomb retrieved from the Communications array, and hopefully badly disrupt the Ork vessels, sowing confusing before the initial attack.

The journey to the outer edge of Damaris was made mostly silently, with the Dynasty in quiet contemplation and plotting their next move. The idea was once they identified the facility, they would move in as a group in Silent Running, then coordinate the teleported bomb attack which would hopefully throw the Orks off balance, and then strike with one massive blow to attempt to destroy the Orks in one fell swoop.

Luck was with the Dynasty, for not only did they detect the Facility where it was supposed to be, but only one Ork attack ship was in the immediate area, along with the Battlekroozer that everyone predicted would be there. The initial plan went beyond the Captain’s dream, with the Ork teleportation bomb destroying the facility outright, dragging it into the depths of the gas giant. The battle against the Orkish vessels was not a resounding victory, with the relentless armour of the Orkish Battlekroozer shrugging off most of its fire, and dealing intense damage to both the Veritas and the Lumen, though the remainder of the fleet handled the Orkish Frigate, and could probably have destroyed the Battlekroozer, except that it and the Lumen were within spitting distance of each other, and one good broadside would destroy either.

Fortunately the Warboss, as with every Ork before, hated that Captain Hos had been relentlessly taunting him that only Hos was qualified to be the true Warboss, and challenged him to board his vessel and face him in single combat. Hoping to demoralize the entire Orkish fleet, as well as preserve his flagship, the Rogue Trader set off to duel a Warboss, armed with the force field from Explorator Felicis, the Archeotech armour from Navigator Maturinus, the guard shield from Astropath Eckhart, the Dire Sword from the Eldar Autarch and the spitting defiance of Arch-Militant Caine, the Lord-Captain made to challenge yet another Warboss.

Led by the Orks to the bridge of the Battlekroozer, the Dynasty found themselves at a stylized Ork head as an entrance to the bridge, guarded by the Orkish Weirdboy who had earlier escaped them, and said that the challenger lay at the other side of the door. Alerted to his previous encounter with the Kommandos, the Captain realised that the Warboss planned to ambush him from behind, and pretend to fall into the trap, only to immediately turn his plasma pistol and deliver a devastating blow to the torso of the Warboss as he attempted to burst through to attack him. With the Ork wheeling, Captain Hos turned his Dire Sword on the Ork to finish the fight in one fell swoop… only to find it shatter on him when it touched the Ork flesh.

Cursing Eldar forever, the captain found himself on the defensive from the Warboss’s renewed assault, but refused to yield. Blocking his attacks with Eckhart’s shield, he bought enough time for his plasma pistol to twice more strike home, which finally brought the Warboss to his knees, and then to the ground fallen. With their leader fallen, and the other Orkish reinforcements still having yet to arrive, the Orks on the Battlekroozer fell prey to Hos’s charm, and the Orks pledged their loyalty to the Dynasty – just as the gas giant collapsed into a Webway portal, and an Eldar fleet emerged to battle the beleaguered Imperial forces.

Completely outnumbered, the Dynasty could not escape the void ship, as the Guncutters they took over had been destroyed through sabotage. They attempted to access the Orkish teleportarium, but Farseer Anaris chose this moment to reveal himself to everyone else, informing them that if they remained on the Battlekroozer, they would go undetected by the Eldar, and that he could use the Teleportarium once to evacuate a few personnel they deemed “important” to hide here, leaving the rest of the fleet to be massacred. Though they were outnumbered, and chances for victory seemed impossible, the Dynasty eventually decided to fight the Eldar, to their dying breath.

Teleporting to the Emperor’s Bounty – as it was the least damaged of their vessels, the Dynasty found Captain Janrak Spargan openly challenging the Eldar claiming to be the Rogue Trader, and daring them to come after him – a speech that the real Jequin Hos appreciated, but gave the Eldar one last chance to surrender lest there was more bloodshed. Feeling that this speech was not the fire-rouser that was intended, Navigator Maturinus and Arch-Militant Caine urged him to be a little more passionate, at which point he gave a rousing speech to all forces, and prepared to lead them into battle.

The first blow in the renewed battle came from neither Eldar nor Imperial forces, but from Kap’n Chaintusk and Da Ship Eata firing a massive Nova Cannon in response to the real Rogue Trader’s request, devastating a number of the lightly armoured Eldar vessels. The Eldar all immediately focused on the Emperor’s Bounty, abandoning their positions and making to destroy the Explorers, dealing significant damage with their salvos, as the Veritas and the Lumen were out of position and too damaged to assist. Fortunately, Captain Locke and the SDF were able to deal with a few of the Eldar, and Farseer Anaris arrived with his own Void Cruiser to further assist.

With the Bounty crippled and the Eldar fleet on the brink of collapse, their flagship made one final run at the Explorers to attempt to drag them down together, only to be caught by the void torpedoes of Leopold Phipps and the Under Wry Beginnings who had also been manoeuvering into position to assist the Rogue Trader. With the three unexpected reinforcements, what seemed like a certain Eldar victory collapsed, and their fleet was entirely wiped out. The Hos Dynasty forces had been nigh-crippled, but they survived, and had wiped out both Xenos invaders to the Damaris system.

The invasion had ended. The Hos Dynasty stood triumphant.

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Everything's Trying To Kill You
Wherein the number one job hazard of planetary governors is discussed.

In general, overthrowing a planet results in many inconvenient questions that people would like answered immediately. There are few things that could delay that pesky “Why are you now our leader” questions, but fortunately an attack by Eldar Warp Spiders provides the perfect distraction from those pesky questions. The aftermath of the conference room was covered in heavily charred Eldar remains from Arch-Militant Caine’s plasma cannon, and another Eldar corpse’s shadow burnt into the wall from Navigator Maturinus’s baleful warp eye.

Pausing only to request his finest powdered wig to cover up his grenade-sculpted mullet, Planetary Governor Lord-Captain Rogue Trader Jequin Hos turned questions about the Eldar attack into a request for a debriefing following the latest battle against the Orks. Dressing his wounds at the war table was a symbol not lost on either Commander Reynolds or Captain Locke, but the distraction it afforded did give the Dynasty valuable time to implement the next step of their planetary coup: Psychic Brainwashing.

Astropath Eckhart wasted no time following the Eldar attack to head back to the brig of the In Purgatio Lumen to begin rewriting General Remi Dante’s mind to change his belief of the last few days from instituting a planetary overthrow of Governor Belkan Kapak and instituting martial law to overthrowing an inept Governor and instituting a temporary placeholder until firm leadership could be discussed. Though surprisingly strong-willed, he was no match for Eckhart’s vast psychic powers, and the rewriting of his synapses went flawlessly.

By that time Captain Hos had fully illuminated the circumstances of the battle and had begun a vague meandering into his adventuers on Grace when the newly awakened Dante entered the room, and between his testimony and the obscura-slurred corroboration from Governor Kapak, enough legitimacy was placed on to Rogue Trader Hos’s overthrow that further discussion was tabled until the end of the invasion. Commander Reynolds and Captain Locke both seemed reluctantly convinced, while Rogue Trader Blitz seemed deeply amused by the whole circumstances. Rogue Trader Orleans however seemed to be barely suppressing fury, and quickly quit the Bulwark following the conclusion of the meeting.

Dispatching General Dante to continue overseeing ground defenses, Captain Hos and Navigator Maturinus adjourned with Captain Locke to review the Astrographic data. The mapping of the outer reaches of the system was proceeding slowly but steadily, but so far only 20% of it had been mapped and the Orkish base that was presumably out there had still not been found. Speculating that the mysterious gas giant in the outer system would be the likely sourec of the attacks, the pair pooled their knowledge of stellar phenomena in an attempt to predict its location given the available data, but were forced to conclude that based on the sightings so far it was indeed impossible to predict its location. Further analysis of possible locations for the Orkish base was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Explorator Artifex Felicis, finally back from being incommunicado following his incident with Magos Hadron Shard.

Fortunately before he could explain his absence, Astropath Eckhart explained how he had already informed everyone that the Explorator was dealing with the Mechanicum after the death of Magos Shard, a lie to which the Explorator handily caught on. The Explorator asked for some privacy to explain the situation to the new Planetary Governor, a request which everyone but Astropath Eckhart was happy to grant. The given explanation for the Explorator’s absence was that he was researching precedent following the unfortunate probably justified murder of an Adeptus Mechanicus Magos and how to continue smooth operations of the forge, followed by a long in-system transit from the In Obscurum Veritas during the battle. Astropath’s Eckhart’s psychic probing verified this information – failing to find any indication of his encounter with Farseer Anaris. Though Felicis seemed to have more he wanted to tell the Captain, he ultimately decided to stay silent… while Duke Morrow purred quietly in the lap of the Rogue Trader.

The next item on the list of “things to do” involved securing the allegiance of the Adeptus Mechanicus forces on Damaris, as following the death of their Magos there was no guarantee that they would continue to support the war endeavour fully. Explorator Felicis invited the entire Hos Dynasty Inner Council to the Mechanicus shrine, whereupon they were met by a company of Skitarii and a senior Tech-Priest in operation of the facility. Sitting for a formal meeting, the Tech-Priest insincerely apologized for the rogue actions of Magos Shard, and provided the new Planetary Governor accepted that he had performed all of these actions independently – and perhaps back that up with Magos-Commodore Trannarch – then the full support of the Adeptus Mechanicus would be maintained and there would be no further need for anyone to be punished for Tek-Heresy. Though Explorator Felicis was disappointed that he wasn’t now appointed Magos following his assassination, the compromise was accepted.

Felicis’s desire to ingratiate himself to the Mechanicus did not pass unnoticed however, and he was asked to undertake vital maintenance and duties required by the AdMech, which could normally be taken care of, but due to the confusion caused by someone murdering their leader, things were in a bit of a confusion. Never one to pass up an attempt to curry favour, Captain Hos gratefully accepted these missions! Their first stop was at a nearby Levy bunker, where one of their underground rail networks had mysteriously stopped working. While Maturinus and Caine remained above to check the security of the perimeter and gague recruit status, the remainder of the Inner Council moved down to inspect the railline. As Felicis began his maintenance, Farseer Anaris continuously reminded him that he had to leave, immediately – without providing an explanation why. Finally giving in, Felicis declared that this task was beneath him, and the Dynasty made to quit the station. On their way up, a railcar arrived unexpectedly, and Captain Hos ordered a nearby trooper to investigate it.

In the midst of the Trooper’s examination though, the rail car suddenly and violently burst into flame, immolating the unlucky soldier and sending the Inner Council and the Honour Guard to the walls. Half of the Honour Guard were caught in the edge of the explosion, being badly burned while Explorator Felicis, Astropath Eckhart and Captain Hos managed to survive without incident. Navigator Maturinus swiftly reacted to the incident, commanding the bunker with expertise into a rapid reaction, and prevented any further loss of life from the explosion. The party was unclear on what caused this, but they did not stick around for further examination, choosing instead to head to the southern pole of the planet to examine why one of the communication arrays of the planet had recently gone dark.

Bringing with them a contingent of Tech-Priests and the Fighting Tenth platoon, the Dynasty made to secure the dark installation. Initially encountering no signs of life, when pursuing an errant noise deeper into the facility, Arch-Militant Caine boldly charged towards the source, only to find himself running into a horde of Orkish Kommandoes. As the rest of the troops closed in, the Kommandoes attempted to drug the Explorers with a vile hallucinogen, but the Fighting Tenth grew up in the slums of a hive world, and the other Explorers were either too mechanical or too cautious to have entered the room and escaped unharmed – apart from Navigator Maturinus who proceeded to violently assault the walls of the room to combat the Orks he saw coming out of it. Realising that their ambush failed, the Kommandoes retreated to the upper levels of the communications facility, clearly expecting the Explorers to give chase.

They were on the verge of doing so, when Farseer Anaris again communicated with the Explorator, urging caution and directing a smaller contingent of the troops into the basement of the facility, while the rest would take an alternate route to the upper levels. The upper-levels ambush initially seemed lost when Navigator Maturinus ordered a volley of grenades to precede his charge, alerting the Orks to his presence and causing a mob of almost two dozen Orks to charge the Navigator, who patiently awaited their range. When the Orks were almost upon them, he turned the full baleful gaze of his Warp Eye upon the Orks, reducing them to ash in a matter of moments. Only one Ork had not participated in the charge, and it made its way to the roof of the facility, hotly pursued by the Explorers.

After a tense maze through communication relays and power conduits, the Dynasty finally tracked down the last Kommando, who gloated that this would be their end, dramatically flourishing and pressing a remote detonator… that failed to do anything. Explorator Felicis voxed that he had found and disarmed a powerful Orkish explosive in the basement, and frustrated the Kommando jumped off the roof of the building, and ran for the horizon swearing revenge. Having made enough enemies, Captain Hos, Astropath Eckhart, Navigator Maturinus, the Honour Guard and the Fighting Tenth all lined up on the roof and proceeded to mow down the fleeing Ork, cutting short his promises of vengeance. Their victory was shortlived however, as unexpectedly a beam of dark energy shot down from above, blasting Eckhart from behind and nearly slaying the Astropath where he stood.

A quartet of Eldar had been observing the Dynasty this whole time, and took it upon themselves to strike in an unexpected moment. Captain Hos identified these as belonging to the Shadow Spectres, and despite their clear air superiority and powerful weapons, the Eldar were unable to do more than bring down members of the Fighting Tenth, as concentrated fire managed to down three of the four, before the last one retreated. Not wishing to stay in this facility any longer, the surviving members of the Tenth would protect the Tech-Priests while the Inner Council and the Honour Guard would leave to rest and discuss their next move. Unfortunately as they departed, their troubles were not yet over as a few minutes after taking off, they detected Eldar fighters inbound, and no Imperial reinforcements in range to assist them…

It was really turning out to be a tiring day.

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Battle over Damaris

The Action on 281.824.M41 in the Damaris System
Battle Against Orks Above Damaris in Void Defense Sector 2
Report By: Navigator Secundarium Maturinus of House Pazzano
Classification: bEJKxhKPfo-V9zZ-MZZD-mlu-m5xWTpLmVqS

Prelude

It was decided by Lord Hos, that all available forces of the Hos Dynasty would move to help the nearby planet of Damaris fend off the Orkish invasion. The Hos Dynasty set for Damaris with the In Purgatio Lumen, The Emperor’s Bounty, and In Obscurum Veritas. It appeared that the fleet was to set out for Damaris individually, and that the Bounty’s and the Veritas’s Navigators were skillfully chosen by my house, besting me in attempting to get to Damaris first.

There was much pomp and circumstance which introduced Lord Hos to the planet. We meet the Governor, the Void Commander and General of Damaris Planetary Defense Forces. During out time there we saw how dysfunctional the planetary defense was. It was amazing that the Orks had not overrun the planet considering the Governor was using Obscura and drinking all the time.

It was during this time we meet the Warrant Holder for Damaris, Lady Orleans. The Governor had also gained the help of Rogue Trader Blitz and his cruiser The Ordained Destiny and the two Merciless Blades. In addition we had the support of a detached Imperial Light Cruiser Aegis under Captain Sylvia Locke.

Lord Hos and Planetary Admiral Reynolds along with Captain Locke and Captain Blitz worked on dividing zones of control over Damaris. Forces were to be divided in order to cover all approaches to the planet of Damaris. After how the forces dispositions were to be distributed it was time for a break and a ball. It was unfortunate then that the ball was ruined when Long Rage Scanning detected Orkish Roks and ships moving on Damaris.

The Battle

Most of the Inner Council (minus Felicis) moved onto the In Purgatio Lumen, which was stationed in the 2nd Damaris Defensive Sector along with two Damaris Defense Force Frigates. There opposing forces were two Orkish Roks. They were being guided into the atmosphere of Damaris by an Orkish cruiser and two Orkish frigates. Seeing as how this was not the first time the Hos Dynasty had faced Orks, Lord Hos took to the speakers and commanded “The vile Orks would be put down and humanity on Damaris would be saved.”

It was then that the SDF Frigate IV and SDF Frigate V were moving towards the Orkish frigates which were charging directly towards the Lumen. In the coming hours a number of shots were exchanged between the Lumen and the DDF vessels and the Orkish frigates. A knife fight in space was developed. The Lumen swirling to gain better firing angles on the Xenos vessels. The DDF vessels distracting the Orkish frigates. One Orkish frigate was rendered into a flaming pile of wreckage after attempting to ram one of the DDF vessels. It was unfortunate then that one of the DDF V had to withdraw for the battle due to extensive damage.

It was at this point that Astropath Eckhart was able to by stretching his psychic powers cause massive fires on the Orkish cruiser. These fires incinerated tens of thousands of Orks. Most importantly it lead to the temporary disabling of Orkish broadsides. It was during these critical minutes that the Lumen and DDF Frigate IV let broadsides against the rears of the sides of the Orkish cruiser and Orkish frigate. Within an hour, although the Orks had fixed there ridiculous weapons it was too late, the mighty lance of the In Purgatio Lumen had destroyed the Orkish cruiser into a piece of metal floating through space. The Orkish frigate did not fare any better. It was during this fight though the Lumen was damaged. In addition DDF IV was damage so severely that it too was forced to withdraw.

That left the Lumen to deal with two Orkish rocs. It was decided by Lord Hos to deal with the closest one. Astropath Eckhart attempted to use his enormous psychic powers to put up a barrier to protect the Lumen from fire of the roc. It was then that Lord Hos unleashed the full broadside against the roc for a full 90 Standard Terran Minutes, lance after lance, and broadside followed broadside until finally the first Orkish roc fell into smaller chunks that would evaporate whatever was left upon getting to the atmosphere of Damaris.

It was then that the Lumen had to traverse a large amount of space, 17 Void Units to be exact, to get into the point that we could fire upon the second roc. As the Navigator I was able to concentrate and using my knowledge of the warp and concentration carefully channel the power of warp from the warp drive into the regular plasma engines. It allowed us to at about 0.0003c . Very impressive, no doubt the Orks were surprised at our ability to get to them. Our concentrated firing then obliterated an Ork roc as it entered the atmosphere of Damaris. The pieces of the Rok burning into ash and killing whatever terrible Xenos were alive inside the hollowed out asteroid.

After Action

Although Lord Hos was successful in destroying all Orkish attackers it did come at a great cost. We had lost about 36,000 in crew. In addition the DDF ships together lost around 44,000 hands.

However the Orks lost two frigates it is estimated that around 40,000 greenskins were killed. The Orkish cruiser it was estimated to have 80,000 Orks meet there death. In addition it is believed that around 2 million Orks died from the disintegration of the two Orkish rocks.

Although Lord Hos had defended his sector, other areas the Orks were able to land rocs on the surface, simply by slipping through the cracks in the defensive perimeter over Damaris. These Orks will have to be dealt with at a later date.

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How to make friends and usurp governments
Wherein laws of planetary secession are investigated

Another Orkish invasion had come to Damaris, and all void scouts indicated that this would be a highly concentrated thrust to attempt to pierce their void defenses. With the In Purgatio Lumen still requiring extensive repair work at The Bulwark, the Inner Council of Lord Captain Jequin Hos decided to leave their ship docked to complete repairs, and trust the fleet to Captain Sylvia Locke and the Aegis.

The Emperor’s Bounty under the command of Antonio Cassis and the In Obscurum Veritas were dispatched to provide their support, but strangely Explorator Artifex Felicis was not aboard the Veritas, having departed to the surface to deal with the fallout from the death of Magos Hadron Shard at the hands of himself and Navigator Maturinus. With the Explorator out of communication, the only information available to the group was from the Navigator’s account of how the hand of Saint Drusus struck down the heretical Magos. The council decided not to reveal this information on the eve of battle for fear that it would cause a panic that could spell disaster during the coming battle.

With their vessel still under repairs, the Explorers decided to accept the invitation of Commander Orran Reynolds to monitor the void battle in the command centre of The Bulwark. The Commander was far more confident than at the Governor’s ball, easily coordinating the dozen or so officers bringing him reports and interpreting the data transmissions as they came in. The preliminary information appeared correct, and the massive Ork fleet was attempting to breach Damaris in a single location, but the assembled defense forces were prepared and ready to meet them. Reynolds was completely confident that this would be met by the Imperial forces, and despite the misgivings of both Astropath Eckhart and Arch-Militant Caine at openly expressing such sentiments, the battle did indeed appear to be going in the defender’s favour. After two hours the Orks had failed to make any progress, and the fleet was holding strong.

At this point in the battle, Captain Hos received an invitation from General Remi Dante to meet with him on the surface of the planet. Dante had recently managed to finish cleansing the major encampments of surviving Orks and was providing relief to the outer farmland of the planet. His intentions were to improve the relationship existing between himself and the crew, a statement that everyone found dubious but agreed to attend the meeting anyway. Their trip down to the planet took them far beyond the safety of Damaris City, and over megameters of farmland, most of which was now burnt or destroyed during the press of an Ork invasion. En route to their meeting with Dante they passed at least one convoy where a group of beleaguered refugees were treated to a rousing broadcast of Men of Hos, before the Explorers’ Aquila jetted off to the meeting.

Dante himself was overseeing operations in the North-west area of the planet, and was on the outskirts of a massive battlefield, where thousands of men and Orks lay slain – the casualties appearing to mostly be on the Orkish side. As his men gathered the Orkish corpses into bonfires and retrieved the bodies of their fallen, Dante greeted the Explorers, and invited them to travel with him to the last human settlement they had come to relieve before returning to the city in anticipation of any potential breaches in the void defenses. Traveling in the General’s personal command Chimera, the Rogue Trader was accompanied only by his Inner Council and a few members of his Honour Guard, with the remainder following in the convoy. The opening of the journey had Dante recounting the battle that had so far been unseen by most people, the frantic attempts to rescue civilians and supplies from the outskirts of Damaris who had not retreated to the city following the invasion. Dante was incensed that Governor Kapak had not ordered a mass evacuation, instead deciding to allow the farmers to make their own decision – a decision that cost those who remained their lives.

Drawn into the conversation, the Explorers recognised that the General was talking about implementing a military coup to seize control – but Arch-Militant Caine realised that the General had perhaps already implemented his plans, and was seeking the Explorers approval. The Council accused Dante of seizing control of the capital only for his own ambitions, to which he exited the convoy to bring once more into view the endless expanse of burned farmland and the thousands of civilians who were not evacuated in time. Dante’s goal was to take centralized control of the planet to coordinate defenses, and at the conclusion of which allow the people to choose between him and a return to rule under Governor Kapak. Though Captain Hos inquired about implementing free elections this was routinely mocked by everyone – his own council included. Dante hoped that the Rogue Trader would support him in this coup, which he had indeed already implemented. If they would not support him then they would be free to return to their ship, and as long as they kept defending Damaris all existing contracts would be honoured, but further support from the planet would not be forthcoming. Although the General promised they would be allowed to go free, it was not lost on the Explorers that the convoy far out-numbered them, and if it came down to violence it could take them a long time to murder everyone.

Captain Hos’s first instinct was to vox his Aquila pilot to contact Barnard Kroon and ascertain what was going on in the capital, and to come and prepare to extract them. Second, he agreed to Dante’s request to send out a broadcast to the planet acknowledging the change in leadership. Suspicious, but pleased with the outcome, Dante and his men quickly set up a number of long-range broadcasts amplified by his command gear to make a proclamation to the citizenry. With Jequin Hos in the background, General Dante reflected on the failure of Governor Dante, the support pledged by Rogue Traders Blitz and Hos, and the necessity for change in planetary leadership – a leader who would be Rogue Trader Jequin Hos.

His men understandably surprised, the captain then modestly accepted the need for a change in leadership and that he would humbly take command for at least the immediate crisis, before restoring control to the next in secession from Governor Kapak. Dante’s troops were baffled as to why their leader was not reacting to this change in plans – notably because they were unable to detect Astropath Eckhart having telepathically subverted the General’s mind for the purpose of this discussion. Archimedes Clement arrived in the Aquila, and relayed word that Kroon had confirmed Kapak had publically stepped aside, and though there were no soldiers in the capital there had not been any actual violence. Though Dante’s soldiers were ready to resort to violence, Eckhart-as-Dante convinced them to stand down, and that he was returning to the Lumen to answer for his attempted treason.

This broadcast reached the Bulwark and the waiting orbital fleet, and certainly a number of messages were waiting for the Rogue Trader when they returned. For the moment refusing all requests, Dante was escorted to the brig where he was locked in, and the mental domination released – whereupon he began violently cursing and pounding on the walls before the privacy field could be completed. Commander Reynolds continued his urgent messages to reach the party, as although he recognised that whatever had just happened on the surface was important, it could probably be dealt with after the battle – however Jeremiah Blitz and his three vessels were leaving the battle, and that had to be dealt with now. Attempts to persuade the Rogue Trader to stay were not immediately successful, so Captain Hos had to pledge a portion of his personal proceeds to compensate Blitz for staying as well as granting his ships prefered status when refuelling at Svard. Although the terms would cost the Captain – potentially dearly if Blitz’s ships were badly damaged – he agreed to the terms as this opened up the possibilities of increased revenues and trading for his colony world.

In the fullness of time, the battle was won without surrendering any ground to the Orkish menace. The Inner Council – still surprisingly without Felicis who had not finished his “important matters” – now had to explain to Rogue Traders Blitz and Orleans, Captain Locke, Commander Reynolds and an assortment of dignitaries from Damaris what their plans were now that they had been declared Governor and their General was in prison for attempted crimes against the planet. Seeking a brief reprieve, the quartet secreted themselves away to a conference room to discuss their plans. They had a lot on their agenda – what to do about the troop distributions of the planet, whether or not they would appoint Calgar Ibram as the next Governor of Damaris or try to hold onto power, how to find the origin of the Orkish invasion, what the Mechanicus might do with the death of the Magos and a host of other smaller, political matters. Unsure of where to begin, the choice was taken out of their hands when their conference room was suddenly ambushed by a group of Eldar that abruptly teleported into the room and began attacking.

Navigator Maturinus’ attunement to the Warp detected their approach, and the warning he shouted out just barely allowed Captain Hos and Arch-Militant Caine to dodge attacks by the bizarre Eldar attacks, which seemed to shred the furniture and walls with nigh-invisible lines of force. Astropath Eckhart brought his mighty telekinetic forces to bear on one of the attacking aliens, pinning it with invisible force. Two other attackers reacted to this by levelling grenades at the Astropath, giving their companion a chance to teleport away, though the force knocked them out. Though the Astropath dodged the attacks, the Captain was unfortunately caught in the blast radius and thrown to the ground, badly injured. Navigator Maturinus responded by opening the full force of his third eye at one of the attackers reducing him to ash, while Arch-Militant Caine’s integrated plasma blaster all-but-disintegrated another. The fourth Eldar was again pinned by Eckhart, but before he could be questioned, his head was neatly removed by the Arch-Militant, feeling no chance should be taken with the Xenos.

Probing the mind of the only surviving Eldar, the Astropath learned that the Eldar was part of a massive worldship of Eldar, and had been dispatched weeks ago with orders to kill everyone in this room, at this exact time. He had been unaware prior to attacking as to who would be present, and didn’t know what the importance of the mission was, only that it was necessary. There was also an indication that somewhere in system was an Eldar vessel that had ferried him here, and a small ship hidden from the Bulwark’s sensors hidden nearby to ferry him back. to his vessel. The Eldar was also deeply concerned about a strange gem on the only-intact body of the survivors, but he was regaining consciousness, so the Astropath switched to restraining him with his mind. The Captain summoned Daila Gour and some of his Honour Guard to restrain the Eldar, and keep the Bulwark personnel at bay while the Astropath compelled the Eldar to remove his armour and cease activity. Questioning proved pointless, and the Captain decided to let the Eldar go – without his weapons but with his armour – in order to carry a message back to his people that the Rogue Trader meant no harm to them. Despite this message, as the Eldar retrieved the gem from his fallen companion and redonned his armour, he informed the party that they had to die, and vanished from the room…

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