The Scopuli is a Martian light transport freighter from Eros that was in service to the OPA. One of its crew was Julie Mao and it was attacked by the Stealth Ship Anubis. It was later used as a lure in the ambush and destruction of the Canterbury.
During its mission, however, the Protogen ship, the Anubis, boarded the vessel taking the surviving crew prisoner. They subsequently turned the Scopuli into a trap. Mooring the Scopuli on the non-Belt asteroid CA-2216862, they planted a Mars-made radio in the vessel emitting a distress call, which was answered by the mining ship the Canterbury. While the latter's shuttle the Knight investigated the call, Protogen destroyed the mining vessel leaving the shuttle's crew as eyewitnesses and making it look like a Mars/MCRN attack against an Earth Corp ship. The ruse was intended to ignite a war between the two governments which would distract the system from the Eros incident that they were about to unleash.
The entire surviving crew of the Scopuli, as well as of the Anubis, perished after a protomolecule infection ran loose on the attackers' ship, although Julie Mao survived long enough to escape to Eros and alert the OPA and the crew of the Rocinante of the protomolecule's existence.
The Expanse (TV Series) EditJulie Mao had discovered information of the pending transfer of an unknown weapon from Phoebe Station to Eros on board the Anubis. She petitioned Anderson Dawes to arrange for the Anubis to be intercepted and for the unknown weapon to be commandeered as, at least, a safeguard protecting the Belters and a weapon to be used by the OPA to that end if need be. Fred Johnson commissioned the Scopuli for the mission while Dawes provided the crew and boarding party mercenaries. They proceeded to intercept the Anubis to steal the still unknown weapon, lying in wait by asteroid CA-2216862.
Julie, on the Scopuli's bridge, detected the Anubis burning past right on schedule, but also noted that there was something off, but okayed the assault, readying boarding parties and pursuing the passing ship. As the Scopuli closed to intercept the Anubis, it turned and revealed itself to not be an unarmed civilian science vessel as expected, but a fully armed, stealth gunship.
The Anubis turned the tables and intercepted the Scopuli, launching a breaching pod and flooding the ship with troops who killed or captured the crew of the Scopuli. Of the survivors, at least one was spaced, and another severely beaten for information. The remaining survivor was Julie Mao detained in the storage locker as she was a "complication" due to being the daughter of Jules-Pierre Mao, whose companies were responsible for the protomolecule conspiracy. The captain of the Anubis then confirmed that the Scopuli was turned into bait to lure the Canterbury, so that "Earth and Mars are at each other's throats and [so that they] take their eyes off Eros". This would allow the Protomolecule experiments to proceed unchecked.
Canterbury then arrived and dispatched a small crew led by XO James Holden aboard the Knight shuttle to investigate. They got to the ship's bridge, having found no one on board, but then found the distress signal transponder and realized, too late, that they had been lured into a trap. Holden and his team quickly evacuated to the shuttle as Anubis appeared and fired four missiles, vaporizing the Canterbury. This caused a deadly "splash" of moving debris. As the Knight fled the area, a heavy piece of Cant's wreckage smashed into the Scopuli, snapping the freighter in two, although it did not explode due to its reactor having long been powered down.
- Plot hole: In the TV series, if the Scopuli had not targeted the Anubis, what had they planned on using as a distraction or as bait? Would they have stopped at CA-2216862 anyhow? What vessel would they have planted the distress beacon on? Would they have still targetted the Canterbury specifically or sought out another vessel?
A possible meaning is derived from Greek Mythology. The "Sirenum Scopuli" were the rocks upon which the Sirens lived and lured sailors to their deaths using their song. This is quite fitting since the vessel Scopuli was used to lure the Canterbury to its destruction using a false distress signal.
It is possible that the vessel was named after a region near the north pole of mars, Ultimi scopuli, the "last cliffs". The latin Word scopulus (sing. of scopuli) has a whole range of meanings, from the literal cliff and its metaphorical use as something to be overcome, to defiant or hard-hearted when referring to personalities.
Scopuli can also mean the destroyer when referring to a person, as in the destroyer of Rome.