"Do not fear, biped. 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?"
- —Sirred Fain, Stryxis Merchant Master
The Stryxis are a sparse, nomadic xenos race with a reputation as untrustworthy traders, wanderers, and sometimes slavers and pirates. Encountered infrequently in the Koronus Expanse on the border of the Calixis Sector in the Segmentum Obscurus, their reputation is a dark one. The Stryxis are a truly hideous xenoform to look upon beneath swathes of ragged, bone-coloured cloth and trinkets, described variously by human onlookers as a gangling and multi-eyed creature that resembles a human-sized, skinned, dog embryo. Yet they communicate easily with willing humans through a common language of greed, curiosity, and self-interest. Scavengers and obsessive hoarders, they possess a wealth of technology stolen and bartered from countless intelligent races. They delight in trade, attaching worth only by perceived value and rarity of things they can grasp in their bony talons. They seem to care nothing for conquest or territory, abstract wealth, nor even their own species, but are driven instead by individual avarice and viperous petty intrigues. The Stryxis will trade with almost anyone, human or xenos, even the worshipers of the Ruinous Powers, but they despise the Eldar. They will kill them if they can, and avoid them otherwise.
The Stryxis are a xenos race of wanderers, traders, merchants, and keepers of secrets. Scattered throughout the region of the Koronus Expanse in bands of nomadic tribes, the Stryxis make their way across the stars trading with those they encounter. They have a reputation for being untrustworthy scoundrels, yet there are many who would deal with them, if they could only stand their hideous appearance. The Stryxis are a truly bizarre race of xenos. No one knows where they originated, and the only home they seem to have are caravans of ramshackle and barely-operational voidships. In fact, the Stryxis are widely known for taking anything that even remotely appears to be space-worthy and converting it into a viable vessel. They are a hierarchical species, and their government and system of laws, if they have such a social organisation, is either so complex as to be incomprehensible to humanity, or is simply completely nonexistent.
In either case, they are a starfaring species for whom betrayal and double-dealing is the norm, especially amongst their own kind. Aside from buying and selling whatever strikes their fancy across the Koronus Expanse, the Stryxis also deal in slaves, soldiers, and vat-grown clone labour -- which they simply refer to as "meat." One of the oddest facets of Stryxis culture is their nearly irrational hatred for the Eldar. Stryxis will often go far out of their way to attack the aloof humanoid xenos. Failing that, they will simply avoid them at all costs. None but the Stryxis and the Eldar themselves know the reason for this loathing, and neither side has provided an answer to the mystery.
Humanity has learned very little concerning the ways of the xenos now known to the Imperium as the Stryxis. The infrequency of encounters with these enigmatic voidfarers has lent them a nearly mythical reputation. Many believe that they are native to the Koronus Expanse, and more than one Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos has made it their mission to discover the location of a Stryxis homeworld. These endeavours have thus far proven fruitless. The Stryxis have baffled mankind for centuries; their odd sense of value -- and even more peculiar anatomy -- make them one of the strangest xenos known to the Imperium. Members of this inscrutable race have almost always been encountered living in fleets of oddly-constructed caravan voidships known as Xebecs, and are almost always interested in trading with those whose paths they cross. Their mercantile ways have given them access to uncountable goods and relics. Their extensive travels have provided them with unfathomable amounts of priceless information; information that they shroud in secrecy, and do their best to protect.
These crafty, somewhat aloof creatures are experts at bartering and gathering information. They hold knowledge in high regard and are very careful about divulging anything in too much detail. Their secretive ways have led many to question if the information that they possess holds any truth, or if it is all merely fanciful tales told by unscrupulous merchants for a better return on their goods. The Stryxis only part with information that pertains to other species or areas of the Koronus Expanse that they have little personal interest in. They are notorious for being protective of their origins and secrets; many an Imperial explorer or trader who has strayed too close to these secrets has disappeared, or been found dead. The Stryxis appear supremely self-serving and notoriously do anything in their power to preserve their own lives.
The Stryxis can be encountered anywhere within the Koronus Expanse; although they are most frequently spotted in the vicinity of The God-Emperor's Scourge or around the vast Warp anomaly known as the Cinerus Maleficum. This has led to the genesis of many myths pertaining to the origins of the Stryxis. Some even speculate that their homeworld was on the coreward edge of the spectacular Warp anomaly known as The Cauldron, and that the planet was swallowed by that Warp Storm many millennia ago. Others believe that it was possibly destroyed by the Eldar, a xenos species that the Stryxis are known to violently avoid dealing with. Most Imperial researchers surmise that these two xenos share a hatred for one another, but none truly understand this perceived enmity. Others postulate that the strange creatures are but an advanced scouting or surveying wave of Stryxis and that their origins lie beyond the Rifts of Hecaton out on the farthest rim of the galaxy. Whatever the truths behind these stories, the only clear things about the Stryxis are that they remain completely inscrutable, completely untrustworthy, and yet, despite all of this, they often prove extremely profitable as trading partners.
Anatomy and Physiology
To humanity, the Stryxis appear truly hideous. They are often described as gangling, multi-eyed creatures that resemble a human-sized, skinned dog embryo -- an evocative, if somewhat inaccurate, portrayal. All Stryxis encountered seem to have the same general appearance. One of the oddities of the race is that there appears to be no gender variations and no young have been encountered by outsiders. No one outside the race itself knows how they continue to breed, and the Stryxis avoid discussing the topic. The Imperium has never had reason to believe that the Stryxis possess gender traits. They do not exhibit any clearly definable gender specifying features and there is no recorded evidence pertaining to their mode of reproduction. Such physiological hypotheses are nearly impossible to prove, however, due to the shortage of Imperial autopsies of viable Stryxis corpses.
Stryxis have a pugnacious face, with an upturned nose faintly reminiscent of a Terran bulldog and four small, beady eyes. Many believe these to be their most defining feature. The Stryxis' eyes scan and blink individually which gives them an even greater alien appearance. It is thought by many that their understanding of light and even their knowledge of Warp travel is a result of their extremely unusual ocular capabilities. Imperial xenobiologists theorise the Stryxis have a terrible sense of smell, but make up for this with greater visual and spatial acuity. The Stryxis have two arms ending in three-clawed grasping appendages, and two canine-like feet. They have a stooped posture and a bobbing gait when they walk, meaning they often seem shorter than their 1.8 metres. Although the Stryxis seem to weigh very little, it is unlikely that one weighs less than 90 kilograms. A Stryxis is able to fully rotate its hands and arms, swivelling its joints within their sockets. However, their physical anatomy is not readily apparent, as the aliens almost always swathe themselves in stinking, ragged clothes and voluminous robes. An adult Stryxis often adorns itself with all manner of trinkets it finds appealing, often without regard for the ornament's actual meaning (or previous owner).
The Stryxis are wanderers and nomads who skirt across the Koronus Expanse in rickety fleets of starships. Their dark reputation as double-dealing backstabbers, shiftless grifters, pirates, and slavers mean many avoid them. Yet there are Rogue Traders who deal with these bizarre xenos, as they possess a wealth of hoarded technology and information about many of the goings-on within the Expanse. While they care little for conquest and territory, or petty wealth, they have a unique understanding of concepts such as avarice and treachery. It is considered a point of pride within Stryxis culture to be able to wrap subtle lies within the truth. Those who are lauded as masters of this technique are able to spin webs of falsehood and deception within a foundation of truth to the point that the two are inseparable. The Stryxis hold no loyalty for those they deal with, and the aliens will not hesitate to betray an erstwhile "partner" in search of a greater gain. As many have noted, the Stryxis have very little concept of value as it pertains to items of worth, and will as gladly buy worthless baubles as they would platinum ingots, and oftentimes for amounts that have little to do with the item's actual worth in the eyes of other legitimate traders.
Pacts and Provenance
Ancient Thulean records are said to contain many possible interpretations of Stryxis culture. These records state that the groups of Stryxis who nomadically wander the void are known as Pacts; and that these Pacts are led by what are referred to as Masters. These sparse records hint that the most revered and powerful of the Stryxis are known as Slave Masters -- though many believe this to be a misnomer. Whatever the case may be, these shrouded leaders have vast convoys of spacefaring craft, asteroid hives, and armies of slaves and genetically-crafted labourers at their disposal. However, no Imperial researchers claim a definite comprehension of the minute complexities of Stryxis society.
The Stryxis are notoriously fickle in their dealings with humans; one minute a trade is good, the next it simply does not suffice. This racial quirk has led to several reported clashes between the Stryxis and those whose offers are deemed unacceptable. To the Stryxis, everything has purpose and value, however the scales they use for such determinations are impossible for humans to decipher. Items deemed mere trinkets or trash by humanity are sometimes held in high value by these mysterious creatures; the reverse is also common. "One man's detritus is Stryxis gold" has been a phrase used for centuries amongst those who ply the Warp routes of the Koronus Expanse.
Dealing with Rogue Traders
"Yes, honoured biped, that is a strong and powerful weapon. The Stryxis will sell it to you, honoured biped, and warriors as well. They are strong meat, honoured biped, the best we could grow!"
- —Stryxis Weapons Merchant
There are some canny Rogue Traders who see these nefarious merchants for what they are: collectors. The Stryxis do not seem to be overly scrupulous in what they collect. However, there are often gems to be found amongst the dross they hoard, in the form of weapons, valuable items, and even information. It is something of an open secret among Rogue Traders -- at least those who do not mind dealing with them -- that the Stryxis are virtual treasure troves of legends, information, and dark lore concerning the Koronus Expanse. The infamous Rogue Trader Sebastian Winterscale even said on occasion that if a Stryxis merchant could not obtain an item, it did not exist. That colloquialism is just as true for baubles and trinkets as it is for the secrets they sell. Naturally, brokering a deal with the Stryxis is different than setting up a buy from any other merchant-trader. These xenos have different outlooks and apply different values to items than humans do. A Stryxis may ask for a seemingly worthless bauble in exchange for valuable information, or demand vast sums for trivial items. However, they are always willing to bargain.
"So many eyes... so many looking through me... what does it really want from me?"
- —Intercepted Vox-cast near Foulstone, origin unknown
To the Stryxis, few things are as important as knowledge, for knowledge leads to leverage in most endeavours. Those who possess the greatest knowledge are said to attain the rank of Master. These Masters are considered by many to be the leaders of their Pacts and there may be several Masters within a single Pact who each captain a vessel or control a large portion of a ship's population. This puts them in a position as acting heads of the Pacts in which they reside. In many Pacts it is not unheard of for there to be multiple Stryxis Masters vying for power; and most postulate that there are bitter rivalries between those who share this control.
These beings are those Stryxis who have navigated the complex Stryxis social webs through cunning, trickery, trade, and slave acquisition and have attained what appears to be the highest rank amongst the Stryxis. Pacts vary wildly in their makeup and power structure but are almost exclusively lead by these Stryxis Masters. Each Master usually maintains ancient and esoteric information that pertains to a particular aspect of Stryxis purists. One may be a Master Raider, a Master Merchant, a TechSight Master, or a Vat Master to name a few; however, the most feared of these elite Stryxis are the Slave Masters of Pacts Siennes and Vagrae, whom speculations suggest control the majority of encountered Stryxis society. Few have seen a Stryxis Master, as they tend to use agents when dealing with non-Stryxis.
The massive populations of slaves within Stryxis Pacts is said to be one of the major factors behind the Slave Masters' dominance of Stryxis society. However, this cannot possibly be the only reason as the Vat-Born, who are controlled by the Vat Masters, make up the vast majority of any Pact's population. The dress of these vaunted Stryxis is much more refined then that of the common Nomads, their robes are more ornate and covered with all manner of ancient icons and shimmering trinkets. They wear loose hoops made from a plethora of precious materials around their exceptionally slender wrists, perhaps as a show of position and standing.
Those humans who have encountered a Stryxis raiding armada have almost universally been the target of their cripple-and-loot tactics. These tactics are employed to great effect by the underhanded Master Raiders within Stryxis society. A common scheme employed by these leaders of the more piratical of the Stryxis Pacts is said to use several phase-shifted, or otherwise hidden, assault craft lurking near a star system's entry point. A more docile-looking caravan then proceeds to hail and attempt to trade with voidships as they drop back into realspace. Once the target is deemed distracted or weak enough to attack, the assault crafts reveal themselves and quickly batter the unsuspecting vessel with crippling fire. The Raiders then swoop in and proceed to assault the decks of the now-crippled target with massive groups of slaves or Vat-Born at the fore, taking as many prisoners and valuables as they can escape with.
The creation of the Vat-Born is overseen by these incredibly knowledgeable genetic manipulators. They are thought to experiment endlessly with different designs and have quite possibly amassed small fortunes selling armies of Vat-Born to the highest bidder. Their exposure to all manner of chemicals has created in them a resistance to most intoxicants and poisons. Most Vat Masters are said to reside in Asteroid Hives although there are rumours that report large Xebecs that have been fully modified to carry out genetic growth experiments and Vat-Born production. These vile bio-engineers are some of the most revered individuals in Stryxis Pacts; this is most likely due to their control over the Vat-Born themselves who make up over half of most Pacts' population.
Stryxis technology is closely guarded and the TechSight Masters are rumoured to be in possession of the secrets of this mysterious science. Although they are amongst the rarest of Stryxis, TechSight Masters have been reported to be capable of repairing and rigging almost any technology that is found in the Expanse. These masters of Stryxis technology are said to speak their own secret language and it is assumed that this language contains the intricacies of Stryxian technology. Agents of the Ordo Xenos are reportedly scouring the region to locate and capture one of these high-ranking Stryxis, believing that their knowledge of Stryxis technological design is integral in the destruction of that foul xenos breed once and for all. No expeditions have been successful in this endeavour, at least none that have been reported.
A Slave Master is exceptionally adept at creating fear and compliance in the slaves and nomads that serve it. It is rare that a Slave Master is ever encountered alone, as they are almost always accompanied by large groups of slaves. The names of some of the more infamous Stryxis Slave Masters are whispered in primitive areas of the Koronus Expanse, almost as if these beings were daemons. Their capture and flee tactics have left many worlds stripped of large populations of inhabitants. When a Stryxis Slave Master is in the vicinity, it is almost a guarantee that some form of slave exchange is being attempted, either by trade or force.
Slavery and Piracy
The Stryxis are also known for their dealings as slavers and pirates. Thankfully rare, the number of Stryxis who turn to these distasteful ventures are nevertheless often highly influential within their society. However, there is usually no way to tell the difference between a Stryxis who wants to sell merchandise and one who simply wants to take it by force. In fact, most Stryxis alternate between piracy and trade depending on the circumstances. However, they are a somewhat cautious race in general, and will not risk piracy unless they are assured of success. Therefore, they are often more likely to turn to slavery.
Depending on who is asked, the lines between a Stryxis pirate, merchant, and slaver are often blurred. A known merchant and arms dealer might bargain with his clients one day and sell them into slavery the next. The only constant seems to be that they do whatever is in their own best interests at the time, which is why it is always best to deal with the Stryxis from a position of strength.
Although Stryxis slavers have no qualms about attacking voidships and settlements for slaves, they prefer to have others do the work, and simply purchase their "meat." To the Stryxis, the slaves are simply another commodity to be traded and sold. In some ways this benefits their victims -- slave pens are crowded but sanitary, and overseers rarely resort to lethal measures. A slave killed is profit lost, after all. However, the slave-traders of the Stryxis are still reviled and shunned throughout the Koronus Expanse. Once a slave is sold, a Stryxis does not care about its fate, and stories abound of entire cargos being traded to dark powers or vile xenos for unspeakable sacrifices or perversions. Likewise, a Stryxis will not hesitate to perform surgeries or behavioural modifications on slaves to make them more valuable or suited for a customer's needs. A Stryxis will purchase almost any intelligent race as slaves. The only notable exceptions are those species who can easily dominate the Stryxis (such as the Rak'Gol) and the Eldar -- whom the Stryxis will waste no time in attempting to eliminate with extreme prejudice.
There are also those who have need of fighting soldiers to help them wage war. For them, the Stryxis can provide these needs in the form of slave-mercenaries who are controlled by a single Stryxis handler. The slaves are controlled by a variety of means from bomb collars and excruciator devices to mental conditioning or drug-fuelled compliance. The Stryxis are happy to contract out their soldiers for limited engagements or lengthy campaigns, and once the matter concludes, they pack up any survivors and move on to the next war. Stryxis slave-mercenaries are often equally desperate and brutal. Those who do well and survive to fight again and again are sometimes released from their servitude to make their way through the galaxy as they see fit. This does not happen often, but the mere possibility makes the mercenaries utterly savage in combat. However, it has been noted that on the rare occasions that the Stryxis participate in conflict themselves, they do not use their slave-mercenaries. Instead, they rely entirely on vat-grown warriors, perhaps preferring utter loyalty to convenience and low costs.
Stryxis pirates are really no different than Stryxis merchants, save that they turn to violence more readily. These xenos pirates tend to utilise better-armed and armoured caravan-ships and attack targets of opportunity they come across, such as ill-defended voidships and colonies -- often demanding tribute in the form of whatever strikes their fancy. Should the hapless victims not have whatever these demented xenos desire, the pirates attack. If, by the grace of the God-Emperor, they should be able to comply with the insane depravities of these aliens, then they simply send over a party to gather the items and return another day.
The Stryxis are some of the Expanse's best gene manipulators and are well known as growers of biological labour that they refer to as "meat." Although this term is often applied to any non-Stryxis inhabitants of Stryxis Pacts, it is most frequently used when referring to these genetically-engineered and vat-grown beings. The creatures that Stryxis manufacture are grown in large vats under the arcane directions of Vat Masters, and are more commonly known as Vat-Born. The Vat-Born come in all manner of shapes and sizes filling many roles for their Stryxis masters. Some are created for the sole purpose of combat, while others are specifically designed for very specialised labour.
Although they come in many forms, the Vat-Born almost always follow the basic template of four appendages, with a head and torso. In some rare cases, Stryxis creations move on all fours, or have multiple heads or extra appendages. It is unclear if these deviations in design are purposeful or if they are merely experiments gone horribly awry. These biological constructs are also known to be augmented with implants and tools for the tasks they are specifically built to undertake. These unnatural servants often account for the vast majority of the population on board Stryxis ships or asteroid hives. It is rare for a Stryxis Pact to have fewer than four times their population consist of these Vat-Born constructs.
The Stryxis are said to possess massive quantities of slaves that are taken from the ranks of any intelligent race that they can manage to dominate. The most common of these races are humans, Gretchin, and Kroot; however, they are not the only races that serve under the Æther whips of Stryxis Slave Masters. Slaves perform a variety of roles on Stryxis voidships and hives ranging from simple labour to more reputable work as soldiers and even, under special circumstances, as the personal bodyguards of important Stryxis Masters. It is said that some of these slaves are even given a chance at freedom if they fulfil the roles they have been enslaved to perform. These are very special cases and one is more likely to die than be released from Stryxis servitude.
The Stryxis perceive value in their own unfathomable way, and a Slave Master never simply sacrifices a slave unless the benefits gained by doing so far outweigh the losses. Slaves are kept in relatively clean quarters and in fact some say their living conditions are significantly better than those found in many underhives. When dealing with outsiders and attempting to trade slaves, the Stryxis refer to these unfortunates by the demeaning moniker of "meat."
A slave's willpower is sapped as they are tortured and subjected to many conditioning procedures. Although the Stryxis value their slaves highly, they never run the risk of having an unruly slave population due to the massive discrepancy between the number of slaves and the number of Stryxis. Slaves outnumber Stryxis on a three to one basis within most Pacts, a number that is much higher in Pacts controlled by Slave Masters. However, slaves are aware that if they do not comply with their controllers they face death as a consequence.
"I asked it what it would trade for its fascinating blade. It only looked at my young heir beside me and beckoned its claw..."
- —Valen Surbaet, Chronicler
Stryxis, known void-nomads, are not thought to possess any type of advanced technology, instead it is believed that they simply scavenge and take nearly everything they own. For the most part this is true. However, they are quite content to take advantage of other species' ignorance of their true technology. The appearance of the Stryxis and their ramshackle fleets belie the sinister and complex nature of their technology. As flesh-crafters, the Stryxis combine technology and biology together to shape creations that are both functional and extremely elegant, at least to those with an eye for such things.
Although the Stryxis are consummate scavengers, they tend to use weapons that appear to be completely based on native technology. Though a Stryxis has never admitted as such, certain savants note that their weaponry often possesses certain consistent and very anomalous qualities. The most curious of these weapons are their Æther weapons. Few humans have ever been reported to be in possession of one of these eerily beautiful, ghostly weapons, and it is speculated that the humans lack the unique Stryxis ocular anatomy necessary for seeing the weapon's true qualities.
In addition to their unique weapons and power fields, the Stryxis flesh-crafters are able to grow and create virtually any manner of biological creature they need. Using the term "meat" to refer to the hordes of slaves and other non-Stryxis in their custody, these vile xenos will gladly trade and sell them to the highest bidder; they also far outnumber the Stryxis aboard many of their vessels. The Stryxis are not above taking custom orders for their fleshworks, and are supposedly even capable of growing small armies for those who can meet their price.
These exceptionally rare weapons glow with an otherworldly energy and none, save the Stryxis themselves, understand their full range of capabilities or origins. They have been reported to use several different design templates; blades and lances are the most common, though rarer rifles and whips have also been sighted. This technology is theorised to be incapable of penetrating energy shielding and nearly useless when pitted against a psyker's abilities. Æther weapons are often considered a myth by all but the most experienced of traders, and the scant reports of devices are vague and contradictory. They are also known as "ghost-light" weapons to the superstitious voidsmen who travel the Expanse, and the tales told of such weapons' horrible effects describe crewmen and even entire ships vanishing in a pale, misty glow.
- Æther Rifle -These Æther weapons are very rare and peculiar. They follow slightly different design patterns than their melee cousins, but have very similar effects on stricken targets. They fire ammunition made from what appears to be Æther energy, which can be devastating because of its ability to pass through most forms of solid protection.
- Æther Blade - Often confused with the elegance of Eldar technology, Æther Blades are actually quite exquisite -- especially for a race of vile and disgusting xenos as the Stryxis. The hafts of these weapons appear to have been grown, not manufactured, and resemble some type of blue-grey alloy. The energy blade projected appears to be ghostly and ethereal; almost like mist or smoke that dances and flickers. These blades will pass through almost all solid matter, including flesh and bone, and leave no marks. However, the blades are quite fragile when pitted against psychic barriers and Blanks, shutting down for solar days when coming into contact with them. Why this happens is a matter of much speculation.
- Æther Whip - It is believed that these vicious weapons are used by only the most socially-advanced Stryxis. They resemble Æther Blades and Lances in that they are made of a solid grip and a long incorporeal lash that glows with ghostly energy. The flexible energy cords are mainly employed to keep the slave populations on board Stryxis vessels in line, or at least that is the most popular current conjecture.
Although these weapons are similar to the standard issue las weapons of the Astra Militarum, the basic rifles, pistols and cannons of Stryxis design fire a continuous beam of energy and are extremely accurate. These weapons, however, burn through their charge quickly. They have multiple design templates, each of which is crafted by a TechSight Master to fire in different spectra. Every different design is capable of firing a focused energy beam that acts in accordance to its specific spectral output function. Each of these spectral outputs possesses its own peculiar capabilities. Many xenographers have come to refer to these weapons as "light-rifles" or "light-pistols."
These are employed by the majority of the rabble who fight for the Stryxis in their infrequent engagements. Although slightly weaker than Imperial las weapons, some Stryxis weapons have the ability to fire a constant and focused beam at a target over a long period of time. These are sometimes referred to as "lightburner" weapons by those humans who have had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of their fire. Reports of these weapons' functions come from illegally procured Thulean records and are considered inaccurate at best. Many other weapon templates are rumoured to exist. These weapons are highly sought after by agents of the Ordo Xenos and also by dangerously curious xenographers. Should a brave Imperial explorer or trader get their hands on one, the rewards would be substantial.
- Light Pistol and Light Rifle - These ornate and archaic-looking laser weapons are relatively similar to Imperial las weaponry. They tend to be more accurate, though human wielders find such weapons are difficult to fire if one has more than three fingers.
- Lightburner Cannon - A much more powerful laser device, the so-called "Lightburner Cannon" is a Stryxis heavy weapon, and must be crew-served or mounted on a vehicle. It focuses a deadly laser beam on a target for a long period of time, until metal runs like hot wax, and flesh incinerates to a smeared black char.
The Stryxis employ a multitude of restraining techniques on their slave populations with the Slave Collar being the most commonly used device. These slave obedience devices can either be detonated through remote or proximity methods and also are triggered if the wearer attempts to remove it. The following slave submission mechanisms are a relatively common sight along the slave routes of the Koronus Expanse as the Stryxis are some of the most prolific slavers in the sector.
- Bomb Collar - A crude collar with small explosive devices rigged to it, bomb collars are detonated if compliance is not reached. These are used for those strong enough to break free from a claw collar.
- Claw Collar - Fashioned to look like a small Stryxis hand gripping the wearer's throat from behind, collars of this design are used to choke, strangle, and even kill their unfortunate wearers if they fail to be obedient to their Masters.
- Excruciator - Once implanted into the cortex of a potential slave, Excruciators interface with the nervous system. Upon predesigned triggers, the Excruciator shocks the slave's nervous system, creating paralysing pain in its host. The implanting process is a complex one, so these devices are saved for use on exceptionally valued or resilient slaves.
Personal Phase Reality Shifter
The Stryxis have developed a technology that creates a barrier that conceals all items and life signs behind it. This effectively hides whatever the phase shifter's shield envelopes from all augury attempts save for those of the most powerful of psykers. No one, save the Stryxis TechSight Masters, claims complete certainty concerning the true workings of this xeno-tech. Those dubious Masters of Stryxis technology have developed these devices to work onboard voidships as well as for individual, high-ranking Stryxis; although, ship-sized "shifting" devices are bulky and beyond rare.
"Depart in 60 seconds or you fire upon us, honoured biped? Hmmm...what if we leave in 180 seconds and we exchange five of our crew for one of your fine, proud, biped ships? No? Ten of our crew?"
- —Unidentified Stryxian vessel, making a counteroffer
The Stryxis encountered by humanity within the Koronus Expanse seem to be an entirely spaceborne species; no homeworld for the race has yet been identified. While uncommon, they seem to regard the region as within their sphere of influence, and seem to be very well informed regarding major developments from the Stations of Passage to the edges of the Rifts of Hecaton. The Stryxis travel the void in starships that appear as ramshackle as their owners. The Stryxis will take anything capable of traversing the void and mount engines and other components on it. Some of their vessels are hollowed-out asteroids, old Space Hulks, salvaged vessels, and discarded refuse that have been "renovated" by the Stryxis for travel through the void and Immaterium. Often, the hulls of salvaged vessels are towed in long strings, forming massive caravans. How they are able to do this without blowing themselves into the vacuum of space is anyone's guess.
One might look upon such a vessel and assume it is no match for a true warship. However, Stryxis starships are often as deceptive as their masters. Their ramshackle hulls can be protected by powerful force fields, and something about the ships defeats all but the most powerful Auspex scan attempts. Finally, their ships project ethereal beams of "ghost energy." Although they are no more effective than standard macroweapons at penetrating armour plate and Void Shields, they have a disconcerting and utterly lethal effect on the crew inside. Xenographers suspect the Stryxis must equip their looted vessels with examples of their own advanced technology. If this is the case, this would support the theory that the Stryxis, while playing the role of simple merchants, do reserve their most advanced technology for themselves.
Stryxis vessels tend to travel in small convoys of three to five voidcraft. They typically shy away from conflict, though the Rogue Trader Jabez Caul, who has had many dealings with these unpredictable aliens, has reported witnessing them, on occasion, engaging in frighteningly intense battles with other Stryxian convoys. The motive for this internecine conflict remains unknown, though it is rumoured Stryxis caravans engage in opportunistic piracy when faced with a notably weaker or outnumbered opponent.
Stryxis Caravan Vessels
Imperial Navy intelligence tentatively classes the larger Stryxian vessels as "Xebecs," with the smaller voidships referred to as "caravan vessels." It is unusual to place an entire xenos race's starships into two classes, but Stryxian vessels defy established classification. In appearance, Stryxian Xebecs vary tremendously. They are caravan vessels in the most literal sense of the word. Each Xebec consists of a vessel (usually a bulk transport, although raiders, Frigates, and even Light Cruisers have been used) retrofitted with massive Plasma Drives. Stretching behind it on hundreds of huge chains are the stripped hulls of additional vessels, as many as four or five to a Xebec. These vessels are almost always of human or other alien manufacture. The Stryxis seem to live in the stripped hulls as well as the lead vessel, though they've also been known to sell a hull to an interested party.
The Imperial Navy is particularly perplexed by the baffling inconsistencies in Stryxian technology; while some Xebecs bear the latest Imperial technologies, others rely on truly primitive spacefaring techniques, such as the use of centrifugal force to create artificial gravity. There seems to be no logic to Stryxian shipbuilding (such as it is) and it helps cement their reputation as rag-merchants and scavengers. Although Stryxian Xebecs appear to use Plasma Drives, Explorators who have had the opportunity to observe Stryxis voidships are convinced they actually utilise a more potent power source, hidden somewhere in their ship. Many observers have also speculated regarding the nature of Stryxian Warp travel. They certainly appear to travel through the Warp, though no one is sure how they navigate within it. Some have suggested that they are making short, unguided hops, in the manner of the Chartist Captains, but others point to instances of previously identified Xebec caravans appearing at different ends of the Koronus Expanse within only a few solar months, something humanity can only achieve using the Astronomican and Navigators. Any attempts to ascertain the truth behind this are met with long and conflicting stories from the Stryxis, each and every one undoubtedly a lie. If there is one constant for the Stryxis besides their willingness to trade and hatred of the Eldar, it is a universal refusal to reveal secrets about themselves.
Stryxis Starship Components
Although most Stryxis starships make do with devices and components scavenged from other starfaring races, they do show some glimpses of their own strange technology. The following is a list of the most commonly found components within a Stryxis vessel:
- Xenos Warp Engine - The Stryxis seem to use a type of Warp-Drive similar to that used by Imperial humans, though the exact workings are unknown. When asked, Stryxis often mention "Warp currents unseen by two eyes," but give no further details.
- Phase-reality Field - These energy fields seem to protect against Warp incursion by keeping a vessel slightly out of phase with its surroundings during transit, much like an Imperial Gellar Field. Certain Adeptus Mechanicus agents would dearly love to obtain a sample of this xenos technology, as it provides more robust protection than that found on Imperial vessels for what seems to be the same power draw.
- Stryxis Environmental Architect - The Stryxis are oxygen-breathers like humanity, but prefer damp, humid, and cool surroundings. They tend to use their own life support sustainer systems for this reason.
- Ghost-Eye Deep Void Scanner - The scanning devices the Stryxis use are extremely potent. However, even when they actively scan an opponent, they are all but undetectable.
Stryxis Starship Weaponry
Strangely, weapons are one area where the Stryxis show absolutely no interest in using salvage from other races. They almost exclusively use their own inscrutable technology instead. The Stryxis do not utilise laser-based Lance weaponry, tending to prefer more exotic directed energy weapons that have an utterly lethal effect on the crews inside starships. These are referred to as "ghost-light" macroweapons by those who have encountered them, and are utterly reviled by most voidsmen. Stories abound of corridors filling with a pale gray light -- like a fog before the dawn, and crewmen keeling over dead without a mark on their bodies.
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 354
- Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus (RPG), pp. 95-96
- Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss (RPG), pp. 76-79
- Rogue Trader: Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pp. 94-101