Rogue Trader: Into the Dark Void

Betrayal At The Lathes

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“Beautiful, isn’t it? A perfect organism, adapted for one specific goal.”

“Yes—killing us!”

— Magos Pykon and Explorator Fabian Grax, respectively

Fabian Grax had encountered many terrors in the Koronus Expanse, and yet, in spite of that, he felt anxious to leave that domain for he knew that when he returned to Port Wander he would have to answer to his direct superior, Magos Toronos, the same man who forced him to steal an extremely dangerous Xenos artifact from Lucius Vorgen. Still, he had a wealth of accomplishments to boast of so he felt fairly certain that he would be received more warmly this time. On top of that, even if that wasn’t the case, Grax had a plan for getting revenge on the troublesome Magos…

Regardless, while Vorgen restocked, re-crewed, and resupplied his ship, Grax met with Toronos, telling him of many of the things he discovered: The macrocannons at Zayth, the impending refit of the Emperor’s Bounty with said macrocannons, the presence of renegade Tech-Priests on Zayth, the discovery of an ancient AI-controlled probe, the reclamation of an Imperial Battleship, and many other things. Toronos seemed pleased by the report, though Grax feared that Toronos would demand that he try to steal an Eldar sword that Lucius Vorgen took as a trophy from the Black Pearl. Had he done that, that would have been the last straw, but even though Grax would be in the right to act against the Magos he would still likely be condemned by his peers in the Mechanicus.

After the debriefing was over, Toronos instructed Fabian to meet with Magos Ordinatus Helion once they arrived at The Lathes, which seemed reasonable enough. However, little did Toronos know that Fabian’s servo-skull had secretly installed a slicer program into the cogitator banks used by the Mechanicus, designed to search for certain words in their databanks, pluck out the sentence that the word is in, and secretly tack that information onto the end of electronic messages being sent out of the Magos’s office. In so doing, Grax hoped, he would be able to expose Toronos as the corrupt man that he believed him to be. And yet, he felt uncertain. He had not based his program on any approved knowledge of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but on the experiences he learned combating a bizarre corruption of the cogitators on the Emperor’s Bounty. Had he committed the crime of invention? Was he a Heretek? No—surely not. Indeed, would not the greater sin lie in failing to stop the casual corruption of Magi such as Toronos? And had not the Machine God spared his life so that he may serve as an instrument of its will? Yes, he would proceed with his plan until the Omnissiah gave him a sign that he has erred.

That taken care of, Fabian returned to his duties on the ship. Soon after, the Emperor’s Bounty undocked once more, en route to The Lathes, an odd trio of three moons tidally locked to one another, drifting through space as if they were one planetary body. The unique gravitational conditions there made it possible for the creation of materials and structures that are possible nowhere else.

When they arrived, Fabian Grax immediately requested an appointment to meet with Magos Ordinatus Helion, and such a meeting was arranged for the following day. While he waited, Fabian Grax decided to investigate the Order of Genetors, knowing that they had a presence at The Lathes. When he arrived at their domain, he saw many alien samples on display, frozen in stasis, including, to his alarm, a Tyranid Warrior, poised to attack. When his rational mind reasserted itself and he realized that the creature was already dead and in stasis besides, a voice spoke to him, seeming to praise the creature.

Grax turned around, seeing a woman clad in the robes of a Magos, but who appeared to be almost fully human, which perplexed him because he knew that the highest ranking Tech-Priests are also the most heavily augmented. This, as the woman herself soon explained, was Magos Pykon of the Genetors. They conversed for a while, with Grax explaining that his experiences on other worlds, particularly one where a gigantic insect-like creature destroyed a Gun-Cutter, have led him to question the notion that mechanical life is inherently superior to organic life. Grax also revealed his desire to join the Genetors and thereafter try to destroy the Tyranids, or contribute to their downfall in some way. The woman’s responses were odd to him, seeming to often conflict with accepted Mechanicus dogma to the point that he almost had trouble understanding her. In particular, he struggled to explain to her how Lucius Vorgen could have fought a Genestealer Broodlord—a creature infamous for slaughtering even veterans of the Space Marines—to a brief standstill, until he finally gave up and offered a conclusion that he found absurd: that Lucius was simply lucky. To his surprise, Magos Pykon agreed with that. Leading the young Explorator deeper into their facility, Pykon asked him a series of more questions, many of which were quite baffling to him, but he put his intellect to work at formulating his best replies. Eventually they departed and Fabian Grax agreed to meet with her again later, leaving the Genetors with a gift of various Xenos samples he had gathered.

The next day Grax gathered up several individuals to have dinner with Magos Helion, including Captain Lucius Vorgen, Lorayne Thornhallow, and four Tech-Adepts from the Emperor’s Bounty, who were quite delighted and honored to be meeting with such a prestigious individual. Grax objected to the presence of Lorayne, thinking that her terrifying skill in battle would not be necessary for a simple dinner. They were in the middle of true civilization, after all, not the den of some pirate who fancies himself a Lord! However, Vorgen insisted on having her come with them, and Grax sighed to himself at what he believed was just another of the Captain’s bouts of paranoia.

They arrived at the dinner, with Magos Helion arriving sometime soon after with an entourage. Grax noted that Helion also appeared to be almost completely human, leading him to wonder whether or not the man was also a Genetor, but he had little time to ponder it. As the meals were served, Helion asked about the renegade tech-priests operating on Zayth. He, in particular, asked if Grax had told anyone outside of Vorgen, Toronos, and anyone else in the room of his discoveries. When Grax said no, that is when Helion sprung his trap. Grax and the others found themselves surrounded by combat Servitors and Skitarii as Helion revealed that he was behind the plot on Zayth and desired revenge on the ones who thwarted him. Grax was frozen in shock at what was happening even as the battle began. Fortunately he was not defenseless, nor where his companions. Grax had a hellgun concealed in his cybernetic arm, Lucius had his sword, and Lorayne possessed a Crux Beam Gun, which, to his amazement, she unfolded from a very small object to a roughly rifle-sized one. Even his Tech-Adepts produced Laspistols which they never expected they’d have to use!

They flipped the dinner table over for cover just in time as the gun servitors sprayed a hail of lead at them, fortunately not hitting anything. However, the Skitaari enjoyed more success, ruthlessly cutting down two of the Tech-Adepts. Lucius had his hands full with a cybernetic brute with twin powerfists, but managed to bring him down. Grax, meanwhile, hoping that killing Helion would force the others to give in, opened fire on him with his hellgun, hitting him twice. Lorayne followed suit, blasting him twice with the fell energies of the Crux Beam gun, and the Magos toppled over. Grax was satisfied with that—surely not even a Magos could survive so much damage?

Things quickly became desperate, however. Lorayne caught a hail of fire from the gun Servitors and was badly injured, they had three more Skitaari to deal with, and all of his Tech-Adepts were injured or dead. Grax fired off a smoke grenade to blind the gun Servitors briefly, and Lucius demanded the Skitaari surrender, but they hesitated to do so. Fortunately, fate intervened on his behalf, and a squad of fearsome Gland Warriors, genetically modified super-warriors, burst into the room, followed by Magos Pykon herself. The Skitaari quickly surrendered and the Servitors were deactivated. But there was one last surprise for them, as the cybernetic brute thought defeated earlier rose up once again to try and smash Vorgen with his powerfists. Vorgen, quick to react, parried his attacks and split him down the middle with his sword.

Grax wanted an explanation, but Pykon told the explorers that they had to leave immediately, as it was not yet safe for them. Ominously enough, the body of Magos Helion was no longer present, much to Grax’s dismay—the treacherous Magos’s absence was marked only by a bloodstain. And so, collecting their dead and wounded, the explorers returned to their ship and waited out whatever the Genetors were going to do. Grax was conflicted. Thus far, all of the so-called “traditional” Magi he had met—that is, ones with purely mechanical augmentations—were either incredibly embittered or they were irredeemably corrupt. And yet, here were the Genetors, supposedly, according to some of his peers, teetering on the brink of being branded Hereteks for their love of the organic, but they followed the teachings of the Omnissiah more faithfully than anyone else! It was then that Grax realized he had made the right choice. Clearly the Machine God had led him to meet with Magos Pykon and realize his true destiny as a Genetor. He knew that today he had made powerful enemies by defeating Helion, but felt confident in the strength of his new friends—and the full backing of the Machine God himself. Even so, he felt immense regret at doubting his Captain and especially at the loss of two Tech-Adepts, blaming himself for their deaths.

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