The crew of the Tyrant Sun spent a number of weeks in Footfall, effecting repairs to the battered hull of their ship and recruiting voidfarers to replace the men and women lost in the fight with Kaptin Grimslag’s forces. The senior staff met to discuss tactics and decided that a trip back to the dark moon to complete repairs on the Dubious Enterprise and the Salamander would be worthwhile. With three combat-worthy vessels, House D’Stayn could even the odds against the Ork pirates. With that in mind, Lady Janessa expanded the recruiting drive, spending vault-loads of Thrones to recruit or shanghai the needed personnel to fully crew the two ships.
While this was happening, Captain Firenza and the Pious Silence returned to Footfall from the Battleground. Firenza reported that repairs on the Emperor’s Bounty were nearly complete. The majority of the hull and damaged components had been repaired and were functioning, in no small part thanks to Magos Omnus’s conversion of the many, many dead crew from the Bounty into a small army of servitors. When Firenza left the region, Meretek expected to complete hull and systems repairs within a couple weeks. The only system he was not able to repair were the two broadside weapon arrays, which had to be scrapped. Also, there were still not enough crew and servitors to full man the vessel.
Firenza also reported that Maretek had not made much progress on the decryption of the data-logs from the Bounty’s cogitator, due to his preoccupation with the archaeotech engines and other systems. Janessa decided to expand recruiting to include a half crew for the Bounty and sent those personnel with the Silence back to the Battleground. Firenza also carried stern orders from Morgan and Janessa for Meretek to hasten with the decryption assignment.
Shortly after the Silence’s departure, the Tyrant Sun also left Footfall, traveling to the dark moon. Henrik Ballast greeted the officers warmly, showing (with pride) the progress that his mutant colony had made with the repairs to the Salamander and the Enterprise. In fact, his hard-working twists had completed work on both hulls and all components save for the many and varied archeotech and xenos technology installed in the Dubious Enterprise. Janessa and Vesperevasaraphangeline took command of the repairs, pooling their own knowledge of archeotech and xeno-tech to finish the repairs within three or four weeks.
With the repairs completed on all vessels, the growing fleet returned to Footfall to seek out information on current movements of Grimslag. The Ork Freebooter must have been quiet in the last few weeks, however, as the crew were not able to gain much intelligence. However, in that time, two of their other mission teams returned to port. The first, sent to the Polonius system to loot the abandoned forge world, had been set upon by rival Rogue Traders and pirates who were also plundering the system. The Ginjo transport was not a combat vessel and it was all the crew could do simply to escape with their lives. They were still mildly successful in obtaining enough salvaged technology and tradable goods to put in a modest profit.
The second team had far more success. Ordered to gather intelligence on the missing transport ship Temperance and the PDF troops it was carrying, the mission team had followed a number of leads and learned that the Temperance had been hijacked by a Rogue Trader named Gaius Morotai. General Morotai was renowned as a Trader Militant who specialized in conquering planets and dealt heavily in slaves. He was known to command a Tyrant-class cruiser named the Storm and Fury along with a handful of frigates and a dozen or so raiders. The mission team had tracked Morotai back to one of his captured colony worlds, a dry planet in a red star system called Belial. According to the intel, Morotai used Belial as a slave processing center, since the inhospitable climate dissuaded escape, and was going to be there to see to the “breaking” of the captured PDF forces and the integration of their arms and armour into his own military force. The team also learned that only a token force was present at Belial, as Morotai had most of his ships on raiding missions around the neighboring sectors.
Several of the officers recalled seeing General Morotai at Lord Neru Ginjo’s banquet. He had been a tall, broad man clad entirely in custom-fitted power armour and wielding a power axe of xenos make. He had been cold and dismissive to most other guests, though he often spoke with a representative from the Red Schola, a Footfall-based organization that specialized in custom-trained (and in some cases, custom-genetically-modified) slaves.
After a brief discussion, the officers decided to leave off the pursuit of Grimslag to pounce on this new opportunity. Without delay, the three D’Stayn ships jumped to the Belial system. As the vessels entered the far end of the system, long range auger scans revealed only three other ships, all orbiting the only habitable world. One was the Storm and Fury, a powerful cruiser bristling with macrobatteries. The second was a combat frigate that registered as the Intimidator. Lastly was the battered Jericho-class transport Temperance.
The D’Stayn forces devised a quick plan: the Tyrant Sun and the Salamander would rush forward in a headlong assault while the Dubious Enterprise, utilizing its stealth technology, would skirt around to the enemy flank and look for an opportune opening. As the D’Stayn ships closed in, General Morotai himself came over the long-range vox, angrily demanding the surrender of the intruders to his space lest he scatter their atoms across the system. The aggressive machine spirit of the Salamander drove the ship ahead of the Tyrant Sun and almost into the very face of the Storm and Fury. The crew opened up with their batteries of plasma and melta cannons, punching through the forward armour of the cruiser and destroying its prow laser battery while setting one of his port macrocannon broadside aflame. The Tyrant Sun followed up with a barrage of its own, taking out the Storm and Fury’s auger array and leaving its crew all but blind.
The Intimidator came about to strike at the Salamander but was ineffectual. The Salamander spat another barrage of superheated fire at the Storm and Fury before turning its full attention to the Intimidator. The larger frigate managed a lucky shot that damaged the raider’s manuevering thrusters but the Salamander countered with a crippling shot to the Intimidator’s bridge. Another barrage of plasma and the Intimidator was dead in space. Eurydice immediately decided to re-christen the feisty ship the Vorpal Bunny, based on a vicious lagomorph from her homeworld.
Meanwhile, the two cruisers were still duking it out, though without augers the Storm and Fury was at a distinct disadvantage. The Tyrant Sun continued to hammer at the over vessel’s hull while Morotai maintained a steady stream of invectives…until Tryft opened a widespread vox broadcast to the entire Storm and Fury, declaring that the D’Stayns had no interest in the lives of the crew, only that of Gaius Morotai. He offered the enemy crew a choice: their lives or that of their master.
Within the hour, the Storm and Fury seemed paralyzed as a ship-wide mutiny began across all decks. Tryft led a team in a boarding action that took them straight to the bridge, where Morotai and the last of his personal guards were fighting a holding battle against the rebelling bridge crew. The D’Stayn officers joined the fray, drawing Morotai’s attention. While Eurydice held Morotai at bay in melee combat, Vesper and Pulveria buffeted the Rogue Trader with organgrinder rounds and psychic screams until Pulveria was able to finish him off with a killing blow from her force staff.
In the fight, Janessa was badly wounded by a lucky auto-fire barrage by one of Morotai’s guards, who paid for the affront when Tryft severed his arm from the shoulder down with a burning hellgun blast. Her allies promised that the offending trooper’s head would be converted into a servo-skull for the seneschal.
With Morotai dead, his remaining soldiers lost the will to fight and surrendered to the D’Stayn forces. The officers then set about to process the profits from their new prizes.