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Campaign: Damos Crusade

Astropathic communique to Inquisitor E, from imperial psyker Elric Nilius.

We encountered the Stryxis today. They are everything they seem, and worse.

We left the Jika system to join up with rogue trader Vandal Conningham who is currently trailblazing a path for the Damos Crusade. We had a mostly uneventful warp journey, and this time managed to translate back to the material world on target.

However, now we find ourselves on the far side of the system with our target planet on the other side of the sun. So we set in for a few days journey, until we hear a broadcast.

"Honored bipeds, we Stryxis are no threat to you, just poor scavengers and merchants not like yourself, biped—with your ship and friends. They are good friends, yes? Good friends, strong and pretty. Are they for sale? We Stryxis have pretties too: deadly weapons, secrets, lies, hatreds, and joys. All of these can be yours, biped. Tell us, what is your pleasure?"

Did they just offer to buy our friends? Immediately the eldar Za'Shan says "No no, NO! Ye dunna want to deal with the Stryxis". He seems pretty adamant.

Our rogue trader Erika is interested however. The Stryxis are known to have all kinds of odds and ends, and we could certainly find something useful. She orders the command crew to get ready, and we find ourselves in a guncutter on our way to dock with the Stryxis caravan. Well, except for the eldar who Erika reluctantly puts in charge while she's away.

The Stryxis caravan is actually a series of smaller ships all linked together. And I wouldn't believe it, but it seems that they are actually linked by giant metal chains. There is one major ship that is a large rotating cylinder -- it seems to lack proper grav technology and has to actually rotate to create gravity. However some of the smaller ships attached to it are imperial raiders and ork attack ships, with vastly superior technology. It's an odd bunch.

We also see another ship nearby, a mechanicus ship that our explorator Allen recognizes as being from the Disciples of Thule fleet. As we're about to dock our other seneschal, Leo, notices that the docking clamp has been recently repaired.

Stryxis

We dock without any issues though and are eventually greeted by the Stryxis. "Come, come honored bipeds. We have much to offer, many pretties."

Erika tells us that she'll be a while negotiating with the Stryxis, and that we're free to do some browsing on our own for a while. The explorator Allen and our arch-militant Moll go together, since Moll can't really say much other than "Desu", and they pick up a battle servitor and an assault stubber. As they're looking at wares a red-robed Explorator passes by, sees Moll, and then stops in disbelief.

"A Gladius-pattern gene-stamp? Amazing. I thought you were all terminated retroactively. What are you still doing alive? No, I mean how did you end up here?"

They speak awhile, and he introduces himself as Disciple Partannon, a disciple of Thule, who is here on business. He seems genuinely amazed and interested in Moll, and isn't too surprised at the Desu-speech ("Oh yes, that's right!"). While he doesn't know the details about Moll's origin he promises to try and find out. He passes her a glass cube with some blood floating in the middle of it.

"Give this to an astropath. They'll be able to figure out what to do with it and contact us. I hope to hear from you."

Moll seems quite bewildered, and not really sure what to make of all this.

We are summoned by Erika again, and she explains that she'll be able to acquire a manufactorum for the colony that we've recently established if we do the Stryxis a small favor. Just recently the Stryxis were savagely attacked by Loxatl, who are an aquatic predatory race that often hire themselves out as mercenaries. The Stryxis defended themselves better than the Loxatl expected, and the Loxatl had to crash on the nearby arid planet of this system (hereby dubbed planet Sirko).

The Stryxis feel that the ship and its cargo now belongs to them, since they defeated them, but don't really wish to lose lives trying to recover it by force. Hence where we come in. If we go to the planet, kill any defenders, and bring back the Loxatl ship and its contents then the Stryxis will agree to sell us the manufactorum. Easy.

We make preparations immediately. We check our auspex systems and easily locate the Loxatl ship.  It's crashed into a desert about 50 miles away from the coastline. Erika stays on board the ship, but the rest of us along with a green-haired arch-militant take a guncutter down and land not too far from our target.

The Loxatl ship is like a giant egg, though perhaps stretched further outwards, and perfectly smooth. It shows signs of having been recently in a starship battle, and other than perhaps its plasma engines seems in otherwise decent condition. It's also landed in a large pond, a salt water pond as we discover later, which seems oddly fortunate for an aquatic race and really out of place in the desert. In fact, the Loxatl ship is actually at an angle such that one end of it is in the water, and as luck would have it that's also where we discover the port of entry.

Each of us gets ready to walk along the bottom of the pond (our gear is too heavy to really do anything else), and we make our way to the airlock. We notice that the airlock has been damaged as if it had to violently disengage from docking clamps. In other words they left in a hurry!

After a series of airlocks we find ourselves finally inside, but still underwater. It's pitch black, so we light up some glowsticks. That's when the Loxatl attack.

Loxatl

Our void-mistress Nicole immediately gets nailed by a full-auto round of flechettes, and she's hit hard. Moll also gets hit. There are 2 of them in nearby underwater passages, and 2 more on ledges above us. The 2 on the ledges move off out of sight, presumably to go warn the rest of the Loxatl. I try to Compel one of the close ones to move forward out of cover, but to no avail. The green-haired arch-militant trudges over to one of them, eating a salvo of flechettes, and swings clumsily. Between Za'Shan's shuriken pistol and the rest of our gunfire we manage to put them both down at last.

We're able to move further inwards now, and finally get above the water level. While our explorator Allen does some quick first aid we look around. The place has no hard edges. Everything is rounded and curved. Even the passageways are more like tubes, and the doors are essentially circles that slide outwards. We start exploring and soon find the bridge which is surprisingly small, only holding at most 5 people. We venture further into the ship, finding the plasma engines and so forth. But the ship appears to have no weapons at all. How could they have attacked the Stryxis?

Finally we arrive at the last part of the ship. There's a big metal door clamped shut in front of us. Our void-mistress Nicole takes out her inferno pistol and shoots a hole in it. Peering through it we see only more blackness, so we stuff in some glowsticks. We can now see the immediate area beyond but quickly realize that the chamber is vast.

"Hello, anyone there? We want to talk" says our explorator Allen.

The voice that responds is sibilant and thickly accented. "Why you here, why you attack usss?"

"We made a deal with the Stryxis to get this ship, but we don't have to kill you" replies Allen.

"The SSStryxis! They betray usss. They agreed to transssport usss here. Then jussst as we're about to leave they take my mate and mind-probe him, trying to find out where we are going to lay our eggsss. I found out and fled."

Come to think of it, we haven't found anything that looks like warp engines or a gellar field.

This causes some discussion in our group. We realize that this is a colony ship, and that the evidence does seem to indicate that the Stryxis betrayed the Loxatl. If we take the ship and its "cargo" of eggs to the Stryxis they'll clearly use them as slaves. We examine our options, and the best seems to be to let the existing Loxatl take as many eggs as they can carry and run away, so that we can take the ship and the eggs to the Stryxis. That doesn't go over well with the eldar Za'Shan, who questions our morality. He could just be trying to thwart the Stryxis though, since it's clear he hates them.

We discuss moving the Loxatl to the coastline and then attacking the Stryxis, but it's not clear how well that would work. The Stryxis are probably scanning us right now.

Our other seneschal Leo and the green-haired militant are of the mind that we should transport the live cargo to the coastline, let the Loxatl go, but keep the ship and bring it back to the Stryxis. They won't be happy, but at least they'll get a ship and maybe that will be enough.

In the end Allen decides we need to involve Erika into these talks.

"The Loxatl are mercenaries who ally with pirates and renegades. Kill the defenders and deliver the ship. The Crusade is coming through here soon anyways. The Imperium doesn't suffer the xenos to live."

Well, that quickly changes minds. Leo and the green-haired militant, upon remembering that these defenseless eggs will one day grow up to become raiders, do a 180 and immediately suggest we kill them all. We figure out where the locks are on the door and Nicole uses her inferno pistol to shoot them out. We barge in, find 3 Loxatl (one of which appears to be the brood-mother) and after a tough fight put them down.

We look about and see thousands of stasis chambers holding adult Loxatl, with maybe tens of thousands of eggs. No wonder the Stryxis are willing to sell us their manufactorum!

We make plans to lift this ship back into orbit. The explorator Allen, along with the help of the other seneschal Leo, figure out how to at least power up the xenos maneuvering thrusters on this ship. This provides us with a little lift, but not nearly enough. We jettison the Loxatl ship's plasma drives to reduce weight, then call down the massive ore hauler from our cruiser the Brisk Intervention as well as 2 Thunderhawk Transporters, with the hauler directly above the center of the ship and the 2 transporters at either end. But even with all this it's clear that it's not enough. Or rather, it's not stable enough. So we call down several guncutter ships to help further stabilize it as we lift. Our void-mistress Nicole takes control of one of the Thunderhawk Transporters, and with careful oversight we finally manage to take it skyward and into orbit. Once there our starship transports it over to the Stryxis, and they deliver the manufactorum to us. A deal carried out in full.

Oh, and Leo decides to acquire a digi-weapon from the Stryxis and propose to his girl Zelda.  Didn't see that coming!

In service, Elric.

Astropathic response from Inquisitor E

I'm a little surprised. I thought Rogue Trader crews were always thinking about profit, profit, and profit. Perhaps your crew has a more refined morality then they realize.

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