With the plan to colonize the Inti system proceeding smoothly, the Hos Dynasty used their well-earned down-time to complete some more essential matters and secure their power base before continuing their expansion plans. With two new Raiders added to the fleet – and still predominately crewed by their original pirates – Astropath Eckhart planned to use his mental powers and the military backing of the Death Bastards to weed out any potential threats to the Dynasty’s line. Artifex Felicis volunteered to liaise with Magos Stein and continue diplomatic relations while the rest of the Dynasty would work to prove that they could enter into the Colonial venture on an even footing with the Magos Biologis.
Before departing for a supply run, Captain Hos decided to take one last attempt to find the two lost Frigates that escaped from Jacobus’s pirate fleet. Captain Herst and his Raider accompanied the In Purgatio Lumen on deep-patrol along the Outskirts of the Inti system. The odds of finding the Frigates after this long a period of time were extremely low, and the ship pushed itself to the limits of the OORT Cloud in the hope of even catching a glimpes of the missing vessels. Through superior planning, and the not inconsiderable skills of Void Mistress Nichols, surprisingly their quest was not in .vain and the blasted hulk of one of the Frigates was discovered.
The vessel, which had not taken any damage in the previous engagement was now all but hulked. No life signs emerged from the ship, and only a faint gravity field still persisted on the vessel. Arch-Militant Caine and his Razorwings led the boarding action on the enemy vessel escorting Captain Hos to secure their prize. The majority of the crew had been blown through the countless rents in the hull, and only a few stray crewmembers remained on board – trapped in the debris from the collapsing corridor. Inspecting the first body they found, Captain Hos narrowly avoided a Frag Charge that had been booby-trapped underneath the body, and Arch-Militant Caine realised another body had been electrified to kill the first person who made contact with it. Severing the connection to the conduit, the body was inspected to reveal a sinister eight-pointed star carved into its chest, as well as a number of other signals that could not be identified.
Filled with foreboding, the boarding party continued to the bridge but decided against checking any of the other bodies they found along the way. The bridge was a scene of carnage, the doors blown open from the outside and despite the lack of atmosphere the blood and viscera appeared fresh an vibrant. Refusing to leave the vessel uninspected, the Captain and Arch-Militant boarded the captain’s quarters where they discovered the body of the captain – even more ritually scarred than the remaining crew. His personal complement of artifacts and treasure were marked by whatever blasphemous ritual had taken place here. Both Navigator Maturinus and Astropath Poe urged the boarding party to return and leave anything they found behind, as the vessel must be destroyed. Grabbing what few items they saw as particularly valuable, the pair only stopped to download the logs from the ship before finally retreating to their vessel.
Sending a message to the Mechanicus for permission to destroy the tainted vessel, the crew reviewed the ship’s log to discover what happened. It seems that shortly after escaping the battle with the Hos Dynasty the two Frigates made for the edge of the system where they were plotting their next move. They then each claimed to receive a message – not from Vox nor Astropath – and opened fire no each other, with the Jacobus’ Pride falling to its companion and its crew slaughtered. The remaining frigate then fled deeper out of the system in an apparent escape attempt. Though the Lumen pursued its last known course, they found no trace of the surviving frigate, leaving them to suspect it had somehow fled.
Having no further leads to follow, the Vagaries of the Warp was dispatched back to the primary planets of the system to rendezvous with the In Obscurum Veritas, while Captain Hos would head on to Footfall to secure the necessary funds and supplies for the Inti colony. The long warp journey back was again skillfully handled by Navigator Maturinus, and despite a small outbreak of madness among the crew the voyage was otherwise successful. Footfall itself seemed subdued from their last visit, with orbitting traffic greatly reduced – and nary a Xenos vessels to be seen.
The first order of business when founding a colony is to find an ample supply of manpower – both for their colony worlds and the orbital space station that they had claimed. Heading to the habitation slums in Footfall, they leveraged their existing supply trade with Konrad Boethius to promote the more run-down citizens of Footfall for a new life in their startup system. As their station had ample agricultural production capabilities, it was a more attractive proposition than barely scrounging a living on Footfall. Konrad also let the Captain in on some of the later gossip around the station, including his less-than-glorious last appointment with the Black Brotherhood having been circulated.
Deciding to put that meeting off for a later day, the captain got in contact with Barnard Kroon, who greeted the return of the Rogue Trader with enthusiasm until he learned that he was being asked to set up another meeting with Calcus Calinnicus. Told that he had to do this himself, the beleaguered scribe eventually acceded to the request, whereupon Captain Hos dispatched a few members of his Honour Guard to shadow him to ensure that no overt harm came to him. Arch-Militant Caine offered to escort the scribe personally, but the Captain wanted to test his scribe’s loyalty and ingenuity, as well as hopefully record the event for his enjoyment later.
Since security and enforcement personnel were still pending, the next order of business was to procure equipment and resources for the founding of the colony. Eschewing the services of Jonquin Saul for the moment the Dynasty visited the Koronus Equipment concern, and met with Baxter Abhay to see what the competition had to offer. Though the storefront was minimalist and sparsely decorated, it was quickly spotted as a front, because anyone who could afford this level of supply and distribution inside the Expanse must have serious capital behind them. The business negotiations were fairly straightforward, with Captain Hos shrewdly bargaining the merchant down to a bottom line with promises of future expansion within their colony, and contract handling was turned over to Naoya Shitani, who would oversee the deployment and distribution of contracts and colonization.
As it was now late in the day, the Inner Council decided to dine at the Liege’s Court and plan things for tomorrow. The affair at the court was strangely subdued, even the dishes seemed to lack the lustre of some of the past events. Of Rogue Traders, the Lady Elizabeth Orleans and the trader Jeremiah Blitz were in attendance, the former of whom indicated through various cyphers that the Inquisition had been rumoured to be stepping up efforts to enter Footfall, resulting in many existing trade routes to become interdicted. The latter was largely reticent during the affair, but did indicate he partook in the Cold Trade, and was at least tangentially aware of the Dynasty’s affairs with the Dark Eldar.
Leaving the tepid dinner affair aside, Rogue Traders Hos and Orelans retired to the Starweaver, Orleans’ private vessel. Over a relaxing post-dinner goblet of Raenka, Captain Orleans discussed that her home system of Damaris had been under siege by slowly escalating attacks by Orkish invaders. Although so far the system had easily been able to hold off the invasion, the size and frequency of attacks have been relentlessly increasing, and she had come to Footfall to seek allies as the Imperial Navy – despite being sworn to defend the system – had contributed nothing beyond a single Light Cruiser for defense. The unfortunate interdiction by the Inquisition had resulted in a difficulty securing allies, and she directly appealed to the Rogue Trader to visit the system to personally discuss matters with the Planetary Governor, indicating that he was prepared to offer generous compensation in exchange for their defense.
Having exhausted all her appeals, Captain Orleans was quitting the system to head back, while Captain Hos returned to the Lumen to debate matters with his council. Deciding that their ordering of materials was nearly completed they decided to send an Astropathic message to Inti and the In Obscurum Veritas, ordering them to meet the Dynasty at Svard once matters here were completed. The morning brought news from a beleaguered Barnard Kroon, who had successfully arranged a meeting with the Black Brotherhood, and an unexpected but welcome message from Leopold Phipps that the mission to Seldon’s Folly had been completed successfully. Leveraging the latter news first, a visit was paid to Kadin Hopko who was enthusiastic about the renewed success of his business and cut Captain Hos a good deal on armour and weapons for security personnel on his new space station, as well as satisfying a few acquisitions for the crew in attendance.
The fact that he lacked any security personnel did not deter Captain Hos in the slightest, as he made for his meeting with the Black Brotherhood along with Barnard Kroon and his Arch-Militant and full Honour Guard in tow. Arriving at the foreboding entrance to the Brotherhood, the initial debate was done over the Vox, as Captain Hos was not entirely welcome given the less-than-noble result of his last meeting. Although he eventually gained entrance to the premise, his bodyguards were forced to wait outside and he found himself and Kroon alone with the imposing bulk of Calinnicus as well as a number of armed watchmen present. Fortunately being flush with Thrones made all his business dealings smoother, and not only did he negotiate a number of trained personnel to ensure order on the station, but inspired by the “refreshments” offered by the Lady Orleans also secured a number of good quality recreational supplies for his workers. Nothing that would be addictive or debilitating, but something to take the edge off of boredom – something that he could also enjoy in his own private quarters to ensure the effectiveness of naturally.
With ample supplies procured for the founding of the Inti colony, messages were dispatched to both the Under Wry Beginnings and the Abs Innocentina to temporarily suspend their duties and head for Footfall to begin transporting supplies to the colony world, and the Lumen set course for Svard to rendezvous with the other two Cruisers in the fleet, and decide what to do about the Damaris situation…