The Party departed the Epsilon Marut system and prepared to return home. However, when they arrived at the Marut Heliotrope Gate, something was amiss.
The maintenance hatch of the gate was open, and it appeared to be docked with an invisible ship. After a bit of debate, The Party destroyed the bridge of the hidden vessel and boarded the remains, leaving their shardmind guest, Officer Hunzu, to watch the ship.
What little information could be gathered from the un-damaged systems of the ship revealed that it had also departed from Epsilon Marut, but that it’s previous destinations had been intentionally erased.
Within the ship, they discovered some sort of steampunk motorcycles, as well as other vehicles and supplies that appeared to have been stolen from the Iron Bulwark. The Party secured the bike-like vehicles and moved them to the Party Ship before continuing to loot and explore the vessel.
A maintenance construct from the gate encountered The Party and attempted to brief them on the situation. It seemed to believe that The Party was stranded and in need of help. The construct did not believe that the gate had been tampered with, but when The Party ventured inside the gate, they found Gimmelon Mikaelson, trapped within a mysterious machine.
The construct soon realized that its’ systems were being tampered with to hide this development, and that the gate was in danger. Meanwhile, The Party determined that the device Gimmelon was trapped in was being used to interrogate him and transmit the resulting data across the galaxy.
It was then that they received a message from Officer Hunzu that an intruder was aboard the Party Ship! After preparing for battle, the intruder revealed itself to be one of the capture motorcycles, or so it seemed. As a drilling contraption behind The Party whirred into action without an operator, it appeared that unmanned machinery had laid a trap for them.
Once battle against these machines was waged for a few turns, the enemies revealed their true nature. They were, in fact, enemy Shardminds, who wore specialized armor that allowed them to disguise as, and function as machines. They had apparently gained enough mastery over their own forms to freely shift between these different shapes.
Despite their various tricks and tactics, the crystalline combatants were unable to gain the upper hand over The Party, and they were forced into retreat. A relentless pursuit by The Party ensured that they could neither run nor hide.
Eventually, they even schemed to destroy their own ship in an effort to destroy the Party Ship, however, deft use of a tractor beam was able to prevent disaster from befalling the Party Ship or the Heliotrope Gate.