The reclamation of Cog and the supplies provided by Magos Zinoviev Tevla taxed the remaining supplies of the Forge Moon to their limit, but once supplies from the Hollow Worlds were restored, it was believed that the production capabilities of the Svard System would be up to what they once were. With rescued Tech-Priests and raw materials in their hold, the In Purgatio Lumen had enough supplies to restore another of the Svard Defense Force Frigates, and plan their next conquest of the system.
Arriving in orbit around Svard Prime, the crew was met by Zacharya Caine bearing news of the success of the mission on Exclusion, and both the Arbites and Nobility that he had been sent to bring back. With the citizenry buoyed by the success of the Hos Dynasty and the reunification of many families on board the planet, Lord-Captain Hos met with Speaker Hermiod Tal and Councillor Kane to discuss the ramifications of the return of Cog, and whether or not a conquest of the Hollow Worlds would be possible. Kane informed that captain that they only had one functional Mining Transports, but with the renovated frigates and the defenses of the Lumen, one ore trip would be enough to get several ships operational again, or bring the production capabilities of Cog up-and-running.
The Captain did not commit to a plan of action at this time however, as the unusual orbit of the moons of Jatti had brought Silence into close proximity to Svard Prime, so he decided to both investigate the ancient records there to find clues as to the origin of the Crystalwisps that attacked on Cog, as well as possibly track down the Imperial Envoy who had been causing trouble of his own and bolster their ranks with his frigates. The repairs for the least damaged frigate in orbit would only take a day with the bolstered personnel from Cog, so Astropath Eckhart insisted on a state funeral for the troopers who gave their lives so that Explorator Felicis could escape Cog. The funeral would also draw attention to the menial labourers who died on Cog, and reinforce the need for people to volunteer to take their place to get the facility operational. Even though this was essentially a death sentence for working in the Mechanicus Forge, there were ample volunteers willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of Cog.
The Captain also appealed to the citizenry for weaponry that could be used in their reconquest of the system, as though the Merovech Assault Lasguns from his family’s history had more than proven their worth, they needed something heavier for those rare situations. The attention he had shown to the populace, as well as the string of his successes no doubt rallied the people to donate several heavy weapons to his cause. Stopping to ask Coucnillor Kusinen to kindly provide him information on the artist’s commune on Exclusion, it was with great fanfare that the Lumen departed with two Svardic frigates in escort to Silence in order to reclaim another world for the people.
The journey to Silence was an eventful one for the crew, for some more than others. Astropath Poe reported that a message had been received from Magos Commodore Gnothis Trannarch that the Mechanicus had salvaged the Promise of Agony and requested confirmation of the Dynasty’s position so that their reward could be delivered. Captain Hos responded with their location in the Svard system, and also that the Forge Moon of Cog and the Biologis world of Kybu may require assistance, and as Mechanicus territory their help would be appreciated.
Arch-Militant Caine finished training the Razorwings in usage of the Dark Eldar weaponry salvaged from the Promise of Agony. Eckhart recruited some new troops to replenish the losses suffered by the Death Bastards, although it would take some time to bring the unit back up to full strength. Navigator Maturinus further investigated the worm-device recovered from Navigator Benetek, and found that it was inactive, as it had been since arriving in the Svard system. It was hypothesized that perhaps the modifications made by the Jokaero to the Gellar field may have incapacitated however it was moving through the ship.
Explorator Felicis attempted to piece together a pattern from the information gathered thus far, but was unable to do so. Curious as to what the Jokaero had been doing in the few days since it was last seen, he went to the Engineerium to try and track down the mysterious creature’s current location. Inside, he was confronted by Syros Yurth who was outraged at the modifications made to the Gellar Field by the Xenos and the indifference of the Captain and First Officer. Though Felicis attempted to talk the furious Tech-Priest down, his normally eloquent tongue failed him, and Yurth fled the Engineerium in horror, swearing to reveal the Explorator’s sins. Felicis pursued him, and although temporarily restraining him Yurth threw him off in a fit of rage and was on the verge of escaping. Feeling that there was no further way to bring him down safely, the Explorator drew his plasma pistol and definitively cut Yurth down from behind, definitively executing him. Desperately composing himself, he blamed Yurth’s outburst that the senior bridge staff was heretical on the madness inflicting the Svard system, and that his words could not be trusted.
Shocked to his core by his own actions, when Caine arrived on the scene to take Yurth into custody, the Explorator numbly replied that the Tech-Priest was dead and the situation was contained. Felicis numbly completed his assigned duties before reaching Silence, which included checking in on his Orkish protege – the irony of which was not lost on him. At last, the Lumen reached the moon of Silence, where Lady Nichols reported no sign of the Envoy’s frigate, but also that her Augurs were not performing correctly. Relying on a second opinion, the accompanying Captain Lindsay Garret backed up the assumption for now. There was no sign of life from the surface, so the Inner Council as well as the Pathfinder and Crusader platoons made landfall to secure the tower.
The outskirts of the artist’s commune was a vast field of rejected statues of Imperial saints – thousands of them that lay in various broken and unfinished pieces. Walking through the bizarre garden, Felicis became convinced that the statues were watching and judging him for his actions leading him to break down in front of one of them pleading for forgiveness. The keen eye of Maturinus saw the Statue move towards the Explorator and taking no chances, blew it away with his Plasma Pistol. None but the Navigator and Arch-Militant noticed anything wrong with the statues at first leading to a tense moment, until the Pathfinders on guard at the guncutter also saw the statues on the periphery moving towards them. Forming firing lines, the statues in the garden all turned as one and advanced towards their position.
Too far inside to make it back to the guncutter safely, the landing party made a fighting advance to the tower, managing to reach it without suffering casualties – though the Explorator was again damaged in combat. Reaching the relative safety of the tower, Captain Hos voxed Lieutenant Clement to begin strafing the statues while they secured themselves inside. Once crossing the threshold however, the doors slammed shut and both Navigator and Astropath detected significant warp energy around the facility – trapping them inside. Exploring the greeting way, the party went into the viewing gallery where they found a maccabre sight – the statues on display had their sculpted heads shorn off, and the decapitated heads of the artists of Silence had been crudely fashioned in their place.
Destroying the statues in the viewing area as a precaution, the party advanced throughout the building to ensure there were no more intruders. The first few levels were living quarters, where they discovered the bodies of the sculptors and the heads of the statues, fashioned in the same maccabre pose as below. Searching the rooms, the Dynasty discovered many tomes about the lives of Imperial saints, many more books that they could not identify including one that had a strong warp taint, but nothing that gave any indication as to what happened. The next few dozen levels were the ancient records they had come to find, and careful sweeps found no trace of an enemy, although one Crusader was tragically killed in what was apparently an accident when a shelf collapsed on him.
Reaching the Sculptor’s Nave at the top, the group found a giant statue of the Emperor posed in a martial stance, as well as more books and statues in various states of completion – with one covered by a sheet. Caine entered the room with a contingent of Crusaders, while Eckhart and Maturinus both made to scan the statue. As they did so however, the warp energy that had protected the tower re-focused itself inside of the Nave, and sealed the group off from the other Crusaders, as well as Captain Hos and Explorator Felicis.
To no one’s surprise at all, the statue of the Emperor drew its sword from the ground, and began readying an assault…