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.