Part 1 – Agent of the Machine
The Mayorga Dynasty was directed by the Mechanicum to meet up with one of their agents, Dray, whom they believed had acquired a lead on the location of the lost Disciples of Thule fleet. The agent had gone to ground on Wayfarer Station, and would need to be extracted and debriefed in order to follow up on his lead.
After some extraordinary wheeling and dealing from Edmund over trade arrangements for their upcoming trip through the maw, the crew set off for the Imperial waystation. Once they arrived the crew discovered that an unknown competing organization had agents of their own trying to capture Dray for themselves. A trap was set for the enemy agents, and they were torn apart in an ambush. With a little misdirection the team was able to extract Dray without further incident.
Interrogation of the surviving enemy forces and a follow-up investigation revealed that the ultimate power behind this attack went way up a chain of subordinate agents. The crew was able to identify the immediate director on site as the piratical rogue trader Hadarak Fel. Extensive research after departing Wayfarer station led Kerchan to the conclusion that the ultimate hand behind these forces was Calligos Winterscale himself, the only true rival of Aspyce Chorda and one of the two most powerful dynasties in the Expanse.
The lead recovered from dray was an astropathic record crystal. The crystal contained the last message sent by one of the Thulian Fleet’s outrunner frigates. With a bit of astrogation research the location of the planet from the message was deduced. The Surfeit of Moral Lassitude headed back through the Maw, stopping briefly in Footfall to conclude the remainder of the contracts Edmund had previously arranged.
Part 2 – Black Vigil
While in transit a series of gruesome killings amongst the ship’s population began to pile up enough to draw the command staff’s attention. Psychic echoes near the killings had the distinct signature of a navigator. This led to some completely justified paranoia, given that there were only two known navigators on the ship. Further investigation turned up footage of a shadowed, ephemeral entity killing the victim with an ability similar to the Lidless Stare of a navigator. More disturbing was the apparent possibility that the thing was consuming the soul or essence of the victims afterwards.
Edmund’s ear for the whispers of the ship along with the assistance of the First Officer Vidame Mayorga led to the discovery that the victim had actually been an agent of the Ecclesiarchy attempting to subvert the ship’s populace. This discovery consequently uncovered the entire spy-ring (who were promptly spaced).
Around the same time Captain Mayorga had been on an unusual emotional and psychological roller coaster. Eventually he concluded that his heirloom “lens”, an ornate chained crystalline design, was affecting him as the ship approached Magoros. It was almost as though it was eager to get home, filling its bearer with anticipation and alien emotional triggers. Further study with Enginseer Prime Vinter Stum’s assistance determined that it was some sort of Xenos interface device for a powerful warp-obvervatory or sensor array.
Part 3 – Magoros
Though on edge, the crew nonetheless tabled the issue of the warp-empowered vigilante in their midst when they arrived in the Maragos system. On departure from the warp three chaos raiders were detected over the main world and one of its moons. The usual ambush tactics were applied to great effect, and all three were destroyed. The flotilla only managed to deliver a single defiant salvo from the final, doomed raider. Denied any orbital support, the ground forces of Chaos were brutally exterminated byMaster at Arms Kerchan Bron Kennok and her soldiers.
Two weeks were spent securing the area, making repairs, and performing extensive scans of the array found on Magoros and the organic power source that had been built into one of the moons. The captain wanted to take no chances, and felt a loss of time and a little extra investment was worth additional caution. Thus a supply run was arranged from a nearby system to ensure the crew had all the time they would need.
Shortly thereafter a frigate was detected attempting to stealth into ambush position in a manner not dissimilar to the crew’s own tactics. In a baffling combination of luck with the auspex and catastrophic error on the enemy pilot’s part the frigate was boarded and conquered in less than an hour, with minimal damage to either ship or their crew.
With his capture it was learned that Hadarak Fel had tracked the group through the warp via his navigator’s special talents. Of course he only ended up without a ship and in Mayorga’s brig as consequence. Dinner was had, negotiations were performed, and an arrangement for ransom was made.
Part 4 – Damning Insight
Having clearly reached a point of diminishing returns the captain headed for the xenos warp array along with Master at Arms Kerchan Bron Kennok, Enginseer Prime Vinter Stum, Choir Master Telepathica “Lux”, High Factotum Edmund Swift, and Warp Guide “Master Or”.
Once with the alien complex, not everyone was left unaffected. Kerchan wandered off in a fugue while most of the others fought off alien impressions and impulses. Master Or, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the uniquely structured warp-data flowing all around him and slipped into an altogether different sort of fugue state. Lux noticed the shift right away because Or’s “presence” suddenly matched the soul-reaping killer perfectly.
In the main chamber of the array a tense stand off was defused with what could ultimately be called dark comedy. The crew realized after some conversation that Master Or’s “Dark Side” wasn’t measurably more worrisome than his regular persona. In effect, Master Or was saved by his own disturbing and somewhat sociopathic behavior.
Captain Mayorga even allowed the sundered navigator an attempt to bond with the array. Unfortunately for Or, his divided mind was unable to sustain the overwhelming overload of alien data and systems. Bleeding from eyes, ears, nose, and mouth Or was nearly killed and left in a coma.
The Lord-Captain, thanks to the interface device he had inadvertently bonded with over the past few years, synced up with the array with unsettling ease. Once so bonded he had immediate and total knowledge of every detail within the Magoros system. Locating the lost Thulian vessel half smashed into a large asteroid in the secondary belt was now a simple matter.
It was short work to loot the wreck and strip it down, from which the final destination of Thule’s fleet was finally uncovered. The next destination was an alien world beyond the farthest known reaches of the Hecaton Rifts. Opting to play it safe and consolidate before continuing on the ship returned to Footfall. The ship’s command staff restocked, replenished their crew, brought their Mechanicum allies up to speed, and returned Fel to his dynasty for his ransom.
It was decided that the safest option to the destination would be to return to Magoros and use the warp-gate system the captain had gained access to from the array. Despite the significant risks, the other two options seemed even worse. Before that was possible, however, more ships had come to investigate the system in the wake of Fel’s capture. Worse still, these were directly from Winterscale’s fleet.
The ships were unprepared for the Surfeit and the dynasty’s talent for naval ambush. All but one of the scout flotilla were destroyed, which was captured nearly intact. It was decided that the best course of action would be to return the captured crew and vessel to Winterscale’s dynasty along with a small diplomatic envoy to express the Mayorga’s regrets over the unfortunate conflict.
Part 5 – Alien Light
With this detail resolved, the Captain opened the warp gate and the ship transitioned to place neither materium nor warp. Within the alien gate system a guardian was stirred that could only be described as some sort of “Warp Kraken”. Luck held and the crew was able to get the ship to the destination and out of the alien realm before it became hostile.
The system was a warp-wracked ruin of some extremely advanced but long-dead species. The sensors were able to pick up a significant portion of Thule’s fleet dead in orbit around various planets and moons, with a number of other vessels grounded. Also discovered were 4 massive planetoids within the asteroid belt in perfect alignment around the system’s star. Each of these was carved into alien abstraction of one of the four dark gods of Chaos.
Part 6 – Lost Machines
Though the system and its inhabitants slept, there was little question that one misstep would awaken every corrupted hulk within the system. Plans were drawn up for various contingencies and a careful augury of the system was performed. An away team was assembled and preparations for an excavation of Thule’s grounded flagship were made.
The scans had revealed the planetoid statues to be of a different composition than the rest of the belt. Lux and Or concluded that the latent energies of the idols was focused inwards, almost as though binding the system in some way. The initial assumption was that these formed a trap that would be sprung on any hostile vessels entering the system, such as their own.
Lord Captain Mayorga’s alien insight filled in the rest of the blanks behind the system’s story. With the information provided by the rest of the crew he realized that these things were not a defense system or religious expression of the inhabitants but some sort of warp-powered siege engine. The inhabitants had been trapped and likely wiped out by Chaos worshipping xenos.
The crew had assembled the most complete picture of the system that they could manage. The ship was put into position and Enginseer Prime Vinter Stum’s team began their venture to the unnamed planet’s surface. As the shuttle descended it became apparent that the ships had begun to come together into a single superstructure via some sort of mechanical “growth”.
With their original maps of the vessels rendered useless, the team touched down at an airlock a few kilometers from the flagship itself. The team made slow, cautious progress for some time. It wasn’t until the flagship was breached that the planet and the sleeping fleet in orbit began to wake up. Lux was able to intuit that the awakening forces on the planet were divided, some still tied to whatever native life had existed here while the rest remained in the thrall of Chaos.
Back on the Surfeit of Moral Lassitude the signs of an awakening fleet were hard to miss. Hoping to disrupt the process, the captain ordered every weapon system fired into one of the planetoid idols. It is still difficult to assess whether this saved the crew and mission or damned the vessel.
The attack on the idol had three major consequences. First, the alien awareness of the planet’s long-dead natives came to see the away team as allies against their murderers. Second, the awakening fleet was thrown into disarray; the ships still woke up but now lacked a central directive. Each chaos possessed ship was forced to operate independently. Finally, the damage from the attack and disruption of the chaos idols resulted in a terrible backlash that nearly crippled the Surfeit of Moral Lassitude.
The excavation was now a race against the clock. The team began an all-out assault through the grounded flagship, finding strange assistance at some turns and scrap-code infused machines assaulting them at others. At the same time the Lord Captain and his crew were systematically crushing corrupted ships as quickly as possible before they could be fully powered up.
As the away team reached the cogitator core of the flagship the corrupted fleet had finished its reawakening. While the ground team faced off against a mechanical daemonhost, the ship’s crew faced a hostile corrupted mechanicum fleet with a single half-crippled cruiser. The psychic powerhouse of Lux and Or working in tandem along with the martial might of Kerchan gave Vinter the space to quickly pull the cogitator core from the vessel.
With the core removed the daemon was distracted long enough for the team to press the advantage and send it screaming back into the warp. An adrenaline-fueled escape from the fallen flagship got the team off-world just in time; the Surfeit of Moral Lassitude would not be able to hold together much longer against the ever-growing fleet.
Part 7 – Rise and Fall
The ship was already beginning to break apart and stood no chance of escaping into the warp with so many vessels bearing down on it. Seeing only one option the Lord Captain reached back through the alien flicker in his mind and opened another gate leading back to Magoros. The gate snapped close behind the Surfeit, denying the corrupted fleet its prey.
As everyone had feared, the guardian beast of the gates stirred at the sudden and frantic entry of their foreign vessel. Heedless of the cost to his sanity or soul Lord Captain Mayorga pushed his mind through the gate connection and toward the beast. Surrendering to an unknown and alien will, instinct guided the captains mind. Some primal connection was made and the beast returned to its rest.
Finally the ship drifted back out of the gates and into Magoros. Concerned that the ship would not survive even a minor complication during a warp voyage the captain sent an Astropathic message to the Lathes. The message simply stated that the dynasty had recovered the data they were sent to find and had been left no longer warp-capable.
The response was swift and overwhelming. A full battleship and accompanying forces arrived in system less than a month later, retrieving the ship and crew along with the coveted cogitator core. The Captain and his staff were escorted back to the Lathes with as much pomp as the tech priests could manage.
The command staff were granted lavish quarters within the diplomatic suites of the Lathe worlds while work was begun on their vessel. For months the crew was able to rest, recover, and catch up on their more mundane concerns. Six months later they Fabricator General of the Lathes himself called the crew to the Void docks for a personal audience.
The elegantly constructed magos was accompanied by a full honor guard of skitarii, but lacked the posturing of his imperial peers. “I must express our deepest regrets that we were unable to return your vessel to service. The damage was simply too extensive to repair properly. Conversely, I should express pleasure that we have managed to save the ship’s most revered spirit and interred it into a new housing.”
While most of the crew were distraught at the news a few caught what would have almost been a glint of excitement from the Fabricator General, were such a thing possible. After a brief pause to let his statement sink into the soft brains of the uninitiated the magos continued. “In recognition of your exceptional service to the Omnissiah and the continued sacrifices your dynasty has made in his name, we present this gift”. At this the void docks were flooded with light, revealing the mars-class battlecruiser Corpus Dei.