Metalus received Inquisitor Gedeliah’s summons as he was present in Port Suffering. The cell was to prepare to be picked up from Iocanthus and brought aboard the merchant scow Tarsus’s Pride, which would convey them to their next assignment. Their orders were to assist in the clean-up operation following a purge by the Holy Ordos upon the world of Cyclopea.
Inquisitor Gedeliah was aboard the scow, surprising the acolytes by briefing them in person. They were to forget about the cleaning operation on Cyclopea (but to hold on to the orders). Instead, the cell are to be deployed to Sinophea (a world conveniently on the route to Cyclopea), where the Inquisition has received reports of a series of particularly grisly murders. ( Fihad’s Report). Although Achiel’s acolytes are not the nearest team, Inquisitor Marr has requested that they take the case due to a suspicion that there might be a link to the Haarlock legacy ( Marr’s Note).
Gedeliah warns the acolytes about Sinophia Magna, explaining that it is a dark city caught in the final death throws of a wicked planet. Heresy is ripe upon Sinophia, and recently a plot by the Logician Cult was uncovered. The purge of the cult’s activities resulted in the destruction of the Adeptus Arbites precinct fortress, and as a result the Arbitrators were moved into the ancestral home of the Haarlocks, a tower known locally as Haarlock’s Folly. Although Achiel obviously doesn’t share Marr’s enthusiasm for the Haarlock legacy, he agrees that the clues warrant investigation. The acolytes’ accomplishments so far has earned them the rights to bear Achiel’s rosette to aid them, but the Inquisitor warns them that they will truly be on their own on Sinophia – and reminds the characters that the rosette is a tool than can get them killed a lot faster than it can save them.
The cell decided to approach the assignment with caution, hiding their true strength. Metalus and Cromwell crafted false documents that claim them as Arbites agents sent by the Holy Ordoes to assist with the investigations. Their intention was to make contact with Arbitrator Adjutant Fihad Constantine and approach the investigation more directly. Atellus, Constantine, and Tybalt, however; assume a cover as a merchant traders, taking station on Sinophia on behalf of the Tarsus’s Pride in hopes of brokering some deals for the merchant scow’s return journey.
As the cell prepares to make planetfall, their old colleague Jericus reveals himself, greeting them awkwardly and apologizing for not making his presence known earlier. He confirms that he will be working alongside his old team mates, but that he and Achiel have decided that he will stay apart from the group and work on a even deeper cover. Without any more explanation of where he has been for the last year, Jericus takes up a position in the back of the lander.
The local date on Sinophia Magna is 03109816.M41, local designation Buhdvor, the Emperor’s 39th ( The Sinophian Calendar).
The lander takes the acolytes down to Sinophia Magna’s Flavian spaceport, where they are unceremoniously unloaded into the pouring rain. Jericus uses the opportunity to vanish, and so once the lander has departed they characters find themselves alone on an empty space port. Only after gathering their belongings and making their way towards the low buildings to one end do they see some robed fellow shuffling towards them. The man, a junior adept who introduces himself as Charon, is flustered and out of breath as he excuses himself and claims there was no report of the character’s arrival. The reedy little man is apologetic of circumstances, but unwilling to assume responsibility for any problems the acolytes have. While he checks their papers, he explains that there are no air shuttles, and the roads to town are not trustworthy, and that the best way to get to town is to make their way down to the coast and catch a boat..
While the men argue the point, a young girl makes her presence known, and offers to guide the group to a boat that can get them to the city. Her streetwise attitude charms the characters, who accept her services after some bargaining. Happy to be rid of the problem, Charon encourages the group to follow Elizah even though it is obvious from his demeanor that he considered the child a pest. She leads the characters out of of the spaceport, who struggle to carry all their cases and bags. Fortunately, there are a series of outdoor mechanical elevators that help the characters descend to the water level several hundred meters below. The view of Sinophia Magna is darkly magnificent, and the cell get their first proper view of the setting they have come to dissect. It is a near-overwhelming prospect following their year on sparse and desolate Iocanthus.
After locating a skipper with a sturdy boat, the acolytes load up and motor across Saint’s Mouth towards the lower levels of Sinophia Magna. The skipper is open to comment, but avoids conversation. His advice is to take the “traders” to the Granite Colonnades (District 6) where Elizah can help them find some safe accommodation. The “arbitrators” will then get passage back across Saint’s Mouth to Haarlock’s Folly.
The Skippers dispersed comments reveals that the murders of the nobles are to some degree common knowledge, as he has heard there is a lot of trouble among the Quorum: “Something about House Krin taking control while the Undertow strike out against the nobles”. Apart from that he confirms the basic state of his world and city, and warns the characters to stay far away from “the Sinks” – the lower parts of the city that seem to sink into the dark, filthy waters.
As the boat makes its way up Drusus’s Flow, they come upon a Y-junction where a freighter barge is caught behind a toppled crane. The crew of the barge, all wearing faded, powder-blue uniforms are arguing with a man on shore near the crane. Suddenly, small craft come roaring up the waterways behind the acolytes, filled with men and mounting a large crank-cannon on their prows.
Awaiting no invitation, Cromwell opens fire on one of the boats, drawing their attention and a massive volley of return fire. Everybody dives for cover, and the skipper powers the boat in towards the shoreline just behind the barge. As most of the characters jump ashore and run for cover, sniper fire harasses their every move. A violent gun battle ensues, in which Constantine finds himself trapped in the stern of the boat. The cannon-mounted boats and sniper fire have him covered from every angle, and he is bleeding from several gun wounds. The Sanctioned Psyker grits his teeth and seals his own wounds before unleashing a series of psychic shrieks that stun the majority of the attackers.
Taking advantage of the Constantine’s success, Tybalt strikes down two attackers that had cornered himself and Atellus, allowing the priest to rush one of the boats and spray it with holy promethium. Meanwhile other boats are incoming, and Metalus bravely risks running several fields of fire in order to warn his comrades. Cromwell, in the meanwhile, slowly makes his way to the ceiling of a nearby building where he has identified a particularly lethal sniper. Approaching cautiously from below, he manages to get the jump on his opponent and with two shots sends the sniper reeling off the rooftop.
Another soul-stunning psychic shriek warns off the second wave of attackers, who gather what wounded they can and pull back. Moments later an airborne response team of Sinophian Enforcers respond to the battle, locking the site down and demanding answers. Metalus quickly presents himself and his credentials to the lead Enforcer, pointing out his and Cromwell’s false identities as Inquisitorial resources seconded to the local Arbites unit. Showing them grudging respect, the lead Enforcer allows them their liberty as they finish off taking statements of dishing out summary field executions. Fortunately, Metalus manages to convince the Enforces to take one prisoner, as well as claiming the innocence of the other characters as well as the laborers on the barge.
The Enforces and the crew of the barge all swiftly summarize that the attack was just another prosperous act of hostility by the underworld against the righteous rule of the noble houses, and the lead Enforces pridefully establishes it all as an “open and shut case”. He offers Metalus and Cromwell a seat on one of the air-shuttles, while the prisoner is secured on the other. Without any further consideration to the rest of the people, the Enforces depart, leaving Atellus, Constantine, and Tybalt with the barge crew and the people from their own chartered boat. After identifying the barge as belonging to House Maywroth, and providing some first aid medical assistance to the wounded, the remaining acolytes mount up in the boat again after a short round of renewed negotiations – “look at all these bullet-holes I need to fix!” – carry on towards the Granite Colonnades.
Atellus makes an effort to lighten the captains spirits, and succeeds in getting the man to make some recommendations on where the characters’ should seek residence. The captain described an old inn known as “The Turning Hand” that has always catered to on- and offworld travelers of the trader class. Elizah knows the place, and leads the characters there; and his happy to agree to meet them the following day.
Once Atellus, Constantine and Tybalt check into the place, they decide to refresh themselves and meet in the bar. Tybalt decides to spend the evening exploring the various grids, manifolds and vox lines in hopes of gathering some more information on the city, and in particular Mechanicus holdings. Constantine and Atellus focused on the clientele at the bar, however; socializing and picking up tidbits of information, rumors and local news. One man in particular turned out to have some general connections to trading establishments which seemed like a promising place to start. Apart from this man, Kavihn Ptorek; the trade delegate of house M’kormakk, Atellus also managed to strike up conversation with a another group of three locals that shared some news on Sinophia Magna. Although the planet’s situation is bleak, tension has been rising sharply due to confrontations between the noble ruling classes and elements of the underworld. Several nobles and representatives from the more powerful merchant houses have been murdered the past year, and according to some rumors there are reprisals amongst the underclass – despite news of such deaths never making it into any media reports.
Further northwest, Metalus and Cromwell as set down just beyond the reinforced walls of the temporary Arbitrator precinct fortress at the Haarlock’s Folly. The dark tower loomed black and ominous in the night sky, unlit, scarred and faded. As the air shuttle lifted off, the gates rolled back, revealing a lone Arbitrator standing beyond in greeting on the wide, paved decking. The arbitrator, greeting them sternly but genuinely, introduces himself as Fihad Constantine and thanks the Ordos for their assistance and apologizes for not being able to greet them at the space port (citing operational concerns and miscommunication). As the group walk back to the tower Cromwell asks about the “operation concerns”, learning that another body fitting the M.O. of the others in question has just been found in District 8.
Not wanting to waste the opportunity, Cromwell decides to leave inspecting the tower and getting settled in to Metals and join Fihad down to the scene of the crime. The two accompany a Arbites Vakyrie that takes them down amongst the giant hab blacks of District 8, where the wide street has been sealed off by armored units of Adeptus Arbites. Joining Fihad, Crom’ takes the lift unit to the 40th floor, where a two-room apartment is the scene of a grisly murder. The door stands open, and the apartment is splattered with dried blood: there are still chunks of flesh on the floor and furniture, and the smell is horrific. Inside the hab unit, the corpse is twisted across the center of the floor. It is clad only in a pair of dirty military fatigue trousers. A discarded pump shotgun with a mangled barrel lies on the floor next to it. The cause of death is clear: The corpse’s head and chest have been smashed in and the left arm ripped out if its socket, and the blood pooled on the floor is slowly congealing in a halo around it. A pair of old PDF dog tags has been found, indicating the corpse’s identity as Bal Grey.
Not wanting to interfere at the scene of the crime, Cromwell decides to do so door to door inquiries. Those who open are generally skeptical or even hostile, but when he after a while comes across a disheveled woman she looks looks at him at says “You are like them, but not of them, aren’t you?”. At patience’s end, he intimidates her into telling him what she has seen. Frightened, she stutters that she hid when “they” came, wanting to get away but trapped. She claims she didn’t look closely, as she was trying to hide, but she whispers that “they were monstrous. Not inhuman in their appearance, but in their demeanor. Moving without purpose or emotion, the sense of casualty in contrast to the terrible screams was terrifying.” Suspecting something that he needs to talk to Tybalt about, Cromwell tipped the lady and departed.
After slipping into darkness from the lander, Jericus slowly made his way on foot into the city of SInophia Magna, patiently keeping to the shadows while taking in the character of the decaying city. The dispersed population makes it easy for him to stick to rooftops or traverse abandoned urban areas, eventually finding himself skirting between the sinks of District 5 and the more commercial areas of Districts 9. Observing the interaction of the population for some time, he starts to get a feel for some of the basic social rankings of the lower classes. Jericus senses an order, where certain individuals of particular mannerisms and subtle dress move with more confidence than others, and how others manage communication and transportation is an area of such lacking infrastructure. Decided to test his interaction, he moves into the crowd and books passage up Saint’s Mouth to the commercial piers near the Folly.
Jericus quickly departs the commercial piers and walks west, heading up into a headland upon which several ancient gothic towers are built. Nestled amongst the sharp spires out near the cliff face is the tallest of them all, Haarlock’s Folly. As he draws near he is surprised by a squatter who lies near lifeless in a shadow. As Jericus walks by, the disheveled man suddenly looks up and cackles, looking Jericus in the eye and croaking “you have seen the sun too, boy? Even though you ‘re not from around here; you’ve seen the sun?”. Hurrying past, Jericus leaves the cackling man behind and draws near to the Folly. Climbing a nearby abandoned tower, he picks a perch upon which he observes the temporary Arbites precinct for some time. Their defenses are formidable, as expected, but they have focused on the surrounding area. The tower itself has not been externally modified, its cracked and faded gargoyles the only obvious defenses upon the tower’s surface itself.
Cormwell continues his door-to-door, and after a few failures finally gets a large man into conversation. He confirms that the victim was indeed Bal Grey and that he was part of the undertow, a junior boss of some sorts. However, apparently he wasn’t as bad as most (not a rabid beast or a random killer)m as he only took on those who crossed him or his employers. It was known that he was an ex-PDF Sergeant who ran his own crew, providing muscle for hire and making sure trouble stayed away from the area.
After thanking the man for the information, Crom’ returns to the scene of the crime, where the Arbites are finishing up. He gets a chance to thoroughly search the room, finding more paraphernalia that supports his suspicion that victim was a former PDF trooper. He also notices a loose floorboard that can be removed without too much effort, revealing a small space where an ammo box is hidden. Unfortunately, the box has been opened and apart from a fine cloth that was obviously used to wrap something small (perhaps jewelry?), it is empty. Crom also finds some vials of Ghostfire pollen cleverly hidden amongst the pipes in the bathroom. The former Guardsman pockets the find and concludes his search, joining Fihad and riding back to the Fortress Precinct with the Arbites.
During the ride back, Cromwell observes how much more rough and bitter these Arbitrators are compared to those he worked with on Iocanthus. This he has plenty of time to do, for although the flight took less than ten minutes, the drive back takes over four hours. It is late evening when they arrive back at the Folly, where Fihad asks Crom what he needs to work the investigation. After some discussion, Fihad graciously assigns three of his Arbitrators to work with Cromwell and Metalus; Arbitrator Devi, Chastener Krak and Detective Salomon.
Eager to show his commitment, Cromwell assembles the team in a meeting room for a briefing. Together with Metalus, who has retrieved the relevant case files ( The Murders on Sinophia Magna); they summarize what they and discuss tactics. Crom feels somewhat uneasy around the Chastener, so he assigns some immediate field work to him and Devi, who seems to know how to handle the big man.
Krak and Devi are tasked with searching for Bal’s rival, Juvinal Prioter. Returning to the block where the murder took place, the two intimidate some local street kids into revealing what they know. The kids can’t say much about Juvinal, but after some threats the Arbitrators learn that one of Bal’s crew, Shockee, usually hangs out at The Pit, a local den.
Shockee is indeed at The Pit, where Devi and Krak waste no time roughing him up a bit in preparation for some dialogue. Shockee dispels the belief that Bal and Juvinal were rivals. Actually, they were; but they made peace a few weeks before Bal’s death. “And besides, nobody has heard from Juvinal in a while either,” Shockee explains pleadingly. The nasty business with the unavenged murders has both crews dispersed and gone to ground. Not giving up, the Arbitrators make sure that Shockee isn’t trying to hide something, who in his desperation tells them that Bal’s former 2-I-C, Pinky; is around and might be able to help with more information. However, they never locate Pinky so eventually the two Arbitrators let a battered and bruised Shockee go. However, they do learn that Juvinal’s turf started over beyond 2-2.
While the two Arbitratos check the streets, Cromwell and Salomon review picts, vivit the bodies in the morgue, and investigative notes – look for details, patterns, anything that stands out. Unfortunately, the most prevalent discovery is just how shoddy the investigative work has been on these cases. Salomon is very defensive about it, and Crom doesn’t push the issue. The local precinct is stretched thin and morale is low, but the lacking details are frustrating. Nevertheless, the long night of work gives Cromwell and Metalus a solid overview of the four killings so far ( The Murders on Sinophia Magna). There is no doubt that the force used in the killings are supernatural in its strength (tearing limb from limb), and Crom has a dark reminiscence of the Widower’s mode of operation (although on Sinophia Magna, there has not been any skinning).
The morning finally comes (Tukvor, The Emperor’s 40th), and amongst dark clouds and cold rain, and Metalus, Crom, Krak, Salomon and Devi convene a the Folly to debrief and summarize their individual findings, updating the case files as they go. Cromwell is quite exhausted, and recognizes that he needs some good rest before they can continue, so he dismisses the group to do the same.
That morning Atellus and Constantine find that Tybalt still hasn’t returned from his visitation yet, so they pursue their own avenues of inquiry in line with their cover. Following up the previous night’s leads with visits and meetings, they try to explore possible trade opportunities. Although nothing useful presents itself (Constantine finds it difficult to set up promising deals with outfits that have nothing valuable to offer nor any real wealth with which to deal), but Atellus’s charming behavior leaves a grudgingly good impression wherever they go. Atellus also takes a particular interest in Elizah, ensuring that she is paid to be their guide on a daily basis regardless of whether or not they actually need her. He also takes to gently schooling the little girl on matters of the church, if only to test her outlook and share with her a small glory of the God -Emperor.
When Cromwell’s team assembles for their next shift, Crom’ decides to focus on getting an overview of the case (hoping to find some link to their true mission, and thus takes Detective Taub with him to the administrative records to investigate the Haarlock lineage on Sinophia. Metalus takes the remaining two Arbitrators assigned to their case to identify and interview the detectives who lead the investigations of the earlier murders.
Dolf Gravak, responsible for investigating the first murder, is dead. The detctive responsible for investigating the second murder is Jith Mahgee, a man strongly disliked by Krak. The team interviews him and asks him to recall the event, but they learn nothing new from the detective’s recollections. Terrick Kough is another detective, responsible for the investigation of the Sur’Seculo murder. He demeanor is frustratingly disinterested. Although Terrick is far from insubordinate, he simply fails to attach any significance to the murder apart from being at påarticularly violent murder “probably carried out by someone who owed him a lot of money”. Sinophia is simply too corrupt to make such a grisly murder something out of the ordinary. In summarizing these interviews Metalus clearly sees the link between unprofessional case files and disinterested, overworked and demoralized Arbites personnel.
While Cromwell follows up the physical investigation, Metalus turns his attention to the cogitator banks of the Adeptus Arbites. Like most other things, these are in a poor state following the destruction of the precinct fortress and relocation to Haarlock’s Folly. A lot of data has obviously been lost, and damaged machine spirits make it difficult to make sense of much that remains. Metalus patiently continues his search for days, however; reconstructing any data he finds that relates to his search parameters. He discovers evidence of Inquisitorial tampering, data purges that frustrate his searches even further, but eventually a piece of data turns up. The find is data that was at some point sent to the Sinophia Arbites, a diary entry found on a wreck on the far side of the sector that details riots in Sinophia Magna following the appearance of a black sun.
Tybalt discovers clues on Amon Thol / Ammicus Tole…
A few days have gone by pursuing trade connections, while Constantine and Atellus carefully stick to their cover. Occasionally they witness individuals that seem to be spying on them, and Atellus swears he can recognize a particular servo skull hovering at times in their vicinity, but there are no confrontations. While following up business visits, Atellus takes note of which place of worship this particular social class favors, and with Elizah’s help he finds the place and starts attending mass on a regular basis. Constantine joins, and the two use the opportunity to slowly form some further connections. However, the preacher is one of the worst Atellus has ever witnessed. The bleak, reedy man is seems constantly intoxicated, and his sermons are grey and uninspiring. However, during one particular sermon, a unoriginal talk concerning “sins of the past”, Constantine gets the sense that the preacher is absentmindedly describing something personal, something traumatic, and suddenly a wave of premonition comes over Constantine. Forcing him self to calm his mind and stir the psychic forces, he is nevertheless witness to a psychic vision of a black sun burning darkly above the statute of the God-Emperor (Tukvor, The Lord’s 2nd).
A week earlier (Tukvor, The Emperor’s 40th), Tybalt sent out an inquiry to fellow initiates of the Adeptus Mechanicus, presenting his cover and stating that he was looking for business. The Tech-priest managed to establish a connection with Sinophia Magna’s Transmechanic Haden Colm, who invited him to his holdings. A servitor-controlled shuttle comes to pick him up, and as he heads to Colm’s hold he notices how the chaotic network of cables seems to somehow reach back towards the Transmechanics estate. Once he has arrives, Tybalt is greeted in a friendly and respectful manner, and invited in to see the Tranmechanic’s hold and converse. The inside is as chaotic with regards to the mass of wires, of all shapes and sizes, and the constant buzzing of servitors inspecting, mending and adding wire. Colm frustratingly explains that his fight to maintain Sinophia Magna’s communication grid is a constant struggle against sabotage and decay, while at the same time the ruling elite take his services the granted and refuses to provide neither the homage nor the resources he requires.
During their conversation, Tybalt also meets Colm’s apprentice, Technographer Ligia Mareen. She seems withdrawn and bitter, but Tybalts charms seem to catch her a bit by surprise. Not necessarily warming to the newcomer, Ligia nevertheless expresses fascination with Tybalt’s manners.
Transmechanic Haden Colm is a withered character, his once-nimble legs now stuttering and the vast array of mechedendrites that have replaced his arms hanging heavy down his thin frame. As Tybalt is taken to the heart of the Transmechanic’s domains, he witness the cogitator banks, and they do nothing to dissuade the Tech-priest what he has already begun to suspect – that Haden Colm is quite mad. The poor state of the vast cogitator banks seem amble evidence of this, as the thick mess of wires and cables stretch throughout the building in a way that barely allows passage. Hiding his suspicions, and distracting Haden with talk of the Transmechanic’s other, rival Tech-priests; Tybalt manages to deceive the old Adept to allow him to commune with the cogitator core’s machine spirit. Although not expecting a healthy spirit, Tybalt is shocked to discover a weak trace of scrap code corrupting the machine. Angered, Tybalt confronts the crazy old Transmechanic and demands to know how the cogitator banks could come to be in such a state. However, Colm will not be intimidated and his merely infuriated by Tybalt’s accusations of corruption. Sensing the approach of servitor-guards, Tybalt suppresses his anger and makes his departure.
Meanwhile, Jericus eventually returns to the sinks of District 5, deeming it a good place for him to set up his operations. Moving from one abandoned area to the next, he shifts his habitat as he observes the community around him. Learning the patters of the people, he finds the drug dens and watering holes where the most serious muscle hangs out, and while Jericus attempts to distinguish between the genuine gangsters and the posers, he makes his presence known. A few minor incidents establishes a zone around him and a reputation that he is not to be trifled with, but the Reaper finds in difficult to identify who are the real powers at this level. He hears tales of Rag-barons, Rag-kings and the Rag-court who are in a war with the encroaching nobles, but finds no evidence of such structures and hierarchies on the streets.
Jericus alters his objectives a bit, and starts tracking lines of communications. Several days pass while he watches – then discretely follows – those who come and go, and slowly but surely he is rewarded with an growing understanding of certain locations and their importance to the underworld. One afternoon he tracks a man who leaves the sinks and follows him to a discrete meeting with a more well-dressed man in District 9. Although he doesn’t hear what the subject matter is, or whether something changes hands, he manages to shadow the other man until he is picked up by an air shuttle bearing a faded logo of a starburst upon a checkered background. Although the significance is lost on Jericus, he commits it to memory. After returning to the Sinks, Jericus passes through one of his previous habitats. There he pauses, inspecting the the area with a feeling that somebody else has been here. He finds no evidence of this, however, which disturbs him more.
Tybalt is not willing to ignore the corruption he has discovered. He steals himself into Colm’s system remotely, investigates the myriad of cables and wires strung throughout the city, and makes inquires about Colm, Ligia, and the particular rivalry between Colm and Forgemaster Chorgam. Tybalt discovers that Tecnographer Ligia, bitter and resentful, is an unfaithful servant who has come into contact with the SInophian underworld. Allegedly in cooperation with Rag-king Hesul, she has introduced a virus into the cogitator banks that allow the Rag-king to tap into select communications on SInophia at will. Whether she know that the virus was tainted or nor is inconsequential. Her actions have corrupted the machine-spirit and Colm, in his madness, has rigorously embraced denial and obsessively pursued the expansion and overlay of cables and wires as a means to make up for the cogitator bank’s failings.
One evening Jericus is drinking at one of the spots where some of the more serious gangsters seem to hang out (Buhdvor, The Lord’s 1st), Jericus finally finds himself approached by a man who seems interested in investigating who the mysterious newcomer is. Jericus claims to be an offworlder who recently arrived, not interested in discussing his past, but in need of work. The man accepts the situation, understanding that whatever the situation Jericus is obviously a man with some skill at holding his own. However, if introductions are to be made some token of good faith must be received. The man suggests that Jericus makes a visit to the “haunted” District 11, where it is said that there still can be found “treasure” from when the Mechanicus actively ran the now-abandoned industry of district.
Having grown used to Elizah’s usefulness as a local guide in Sinophia Magna, Atellus and Constantine decide that they must make sure she is not working for anybody else as a little spy. Atellus decides to question here directly, respectfully; while Constantine scrys her aura. Atellus carefully explains to Elizah that if they are going to keep employing her, they need to know a little bit more about her. Talking to the little girl about her home amongst the boat people of Saint’s Mouth, they learn that she is quite a traumatized child, and particularly sensitive to the topic of her family. Although she is elusive regarding her mother, she speaks warmly of several other adults – there amongst the skipper Maksim Semago and Rachelle Callier, a market trader working the sea-markets beneath the Folly. Constantine’s reading of her aura is consistent with her story, and neither Atellus nor Constantine get any sense that there is a particular agenda at work, nor that there are other organizations interested in the little girl (such as the Undertow). She is a survivor with a special talent for getting around, looking out for herself in a harsh environment.
After investigating Elizah, the sub-cell gets to work investigating the Quorum and various family lines of Sinophia’s Noble Houses. Using all public accessible information (and some not-so-public sources), Constantine does his best to map out all that he can find on noble lineages, taking particular note of any fallen houses, lineages that are extinct on SInophia. After a few days of work, the Sanctioned Psyker assembles the following list of Noble Houses relevant to the Quorum: Quorum of Noble Families.
While Constantine is busy studying families of note in Sinophia Magne, Atellus and Tybalt turn their attention to researching clues for good business opportunities – a rather daunting task on SInophia Magna. Atellus takes the lead, working his small but growing network of contacts for all it is worth. It takes some time to build up the necessary trust, but after some time clues of possible ventures begin to emerge. The difficulty is that most business opportunities on SInophia Magna are of an immoral or downright illegal nature.
Impressed with Atellus’s determination and winning personality, Kavihn Ptorek (for a small retainer fee) helps introduce him to some people who share some interesting ideas on gaining wealth in the damned city. The arms approach is unoriginal but always a steady demand, unfortunately the most interested buyers are either undertow-associated organizations, or noble houses without the means to procure more quality arms (such as House Sacchetti). The medicea/pharmaceutical approach provides clues that there is a market for producing and/or processing narcotics to supply the needy, essential rejuvenat chemicals that are in high demand amongst the nobles, or transplanting organs from healthy lower class inhabitants to the sickly higher class population. Finally, while investigating the Adeptus Mechanicus approach Tybalt is made aware of a man known as Bregje Tang. Bregje is one of the main traders working the device-markets of Consilium Ruin. He is usually found near the Blind Wall, and would be the individual who could broker most deals with the local Tech-prists.
Cromwell and Metalus, accompanied by Krak and Devi; take their investigation to the Flavian Space Port in order to look through records of who has arrived or departed from the planet around the time of the murders. Once again this brings the characters into contact with Charon, who makes a fuss about the Arbitrators’ complication of his work. The adept does not hinder the investigation, though; but once again this line of inquiry seems to be a dead end. Apart from the lack of interesting clues in the available data, it is obvious that for anyone with means covert arrival to Sinophia Magma is far too easy.
Metalus questions Charon about older records, looking for anything that relates to the supposed visitation of a dark sun, black star, etc. Although his interrogation frustrates and intimidates Charon, Metalus finds nothing conclusive (such as suspicious holes in the records, or notes of large-scale exodus following social unrest, etc.) that is of any use.
While returning to their precinct, attending the long lift down the mountainside northwest of Saint’s Mouth, the Arbitrators come under attack. The lift is released and begins to accelerate downhill, but heroic action by Krak manages to slow the acceleration enough to for them to escape. The Arbitrators are battered by tumbling and falling down the hill, but manage to arrest their descent and seek cover from sniper fire. Finally backup arrives, but by the time the group is rescued there is no sign of any attacker. Even the lift controllers are gone without a trace. Further investigation a day later reveals that the lift operators are still gone, missed by their family and comrades who have no explanation for their disappearance.
The attempted murder, and the obvious skill of whoever made the attempt, prompts a cautious reaction by the Acolytes. Although not all are in agreement, the group agrees to convene for a meeting in person and discuss what they have learned, how to proceed, and what to do with the direct threat (not to mention, discussing the question of who might be behind it). In the meanwhile, Metalus summarizes the investigation so far, along with the central lines of inquiry; and with Fihad’s help arranges for it to be submitted to their Inquisitors via astrotelepathic communication.
Tybalt is responsible for selecting and preparing a safe house for their meeting. He arranges a location in northern District 10, a warehouse with several offices that is inactive (but not abandoned), and after sweeping it clean communicates its location and the time of the meeting to the group in their cipher, as per agreed protocol. All but Jerichus confirms receipt of the message. However, there is another message for Tybalt, signed by a man who claims to be assigned to the cell by Inquisitor Gedeliah. He says he has a message and needs to meet the group as soon as possible, and all his ciphers check out. Tybalt double-checks, then provides the location for the meeting.
All but Jerichus assemble at the warehouse, received by Tybalt who has prepared the meeting. The cell checks the perimeter, then greet each other warmly before settling down in the meeting room to discuss their situation. Shortly after, the newcomer arrives with a knock on the main doors. Tybalt lets him in, and after re-checking ciphers leads him to the rest. After a brief round of introductions, SIlas presents the messahe he bears from Inquisitor Marr ( Marr’s Warning).
After hearing the message, Constantine’s sense of foreboding spikes and he advises his fellow acolytes that they should re-locate. Tybalt checks is auspex, but only gets strange interference and no readings. The team quickly exits in a direction advised by the Techpriest. As soon as the cell departs the building, it is consumed by a fiery explosion.
As the acolytes pick themselves up in the streets, they come under surpressive fire from above. Tybalt, Atellus and Constantine duck into the nearest building, while Cromwell, Metalus and SIlas seek cover in another. Constantine is sensing a strange presence in the warp, and so he casts his sight above. There he witnesses a lady he believes is a psyker, followed a distance behind by a black-clad assassin with a large, elongated skull mask.
As Tybalt, Atellus and Constantine cautiously make their way up the stairs, they hear grenades being down. They manage to escape the blast, but the stairwell is compromised. Tybalt uses his servo-arm to tear away the remaining support struts, Bringing the stairwell down, while Atellus erupts the dust and debris with a blast of promethium.
Cromwell, Metalus and SIlas follow a hallway to another open warehouse space, with a single circular stairwell leading to the roof. Cromwell covers the others as they make a run for it, taking a shot at an assailant above as his two comrades make the stairs. Suddenly he feels a cold steel blade against his neck, and a female voice mocking him “tsk, tsk, tsk”… Meanwhile Metalus and Silas come under fire from above, and have no choice but to storm into it.
Cromwell is surprised by the sense of his would-be killer being tackled away from him, and then hears Jerichus’s voice telling him to get out of there. Glancing at their assassin and seeing him square off against the female, Cromwell nods in gratitude, picks up his rifle and runs after Metalus and Silas.
SIlas makes it to the top of the stairs with a flesh wound to his shoulder, but as he charges the first assailant a second one unloads his two autopistols into Metalus, knocking him back down the stairs. Cromwell leaps over him, and gets to the roof just as their opponents throws another couple grenades their way. Crom and SIlas give chace, but their two attackers are too quick to back off and as the grenades go off, the staircase gives way and the roof begins to cave in.
Tybalt, Atellus and Constantine make it to their fellow acolytes, and come across Jerichus dueling the female assassin. She proves resilient to Constantine’s powers, so they decide to knock their way through some walls and get around the duel in order to assist the others. They make it into the warehouse just as the grenades go off and the roof comes down. The body of Metalus is buried in the rubble, but Cromwell and Silas manage to ride the collapsing roof to the ground relatively unscathed. In the chaos of the collapse, Jerichus manages to chase off his opponent for a moment.
Jerichus quickly rushes over to Tybalt and gives him a brief report, speaking too fast for anyone else to pick out all the words and their content. Tybalt can follow, however; and records Jerichus’s warning that there is something “emerging” deep in District XX. He has a spot he has been using as a base, and Jerichus reminds them that some lesser evils may be godo alies in the fight against the greater evil.
As Jerichus is speed-talking his report, the psyker and blank that Constantine witnessed earlier emerge. “Hunt down Ammicus Tole!” Jerichus demands, ending his report and turning to charge the emerging threats. Knowing Jerichus’s intent, Tybalt turns to slam through the doors to the street. Without hesitation, the rest of the cell turn to follow Tybalt out into the night, making their escape.
The surviving Acolytes ran for hours through the sprawl of Sinophia Magna; dodging through abandoned parts of the city, cutting through population centers, switching back, and working their way obliquely southwards towards Jericus’s safehouse. At the shoreside sprawl along Saint’s Mouth the group made contact with a local tailor who helped them assume a more local look. Further equipping themselves with some basic necessities, the acolytes purchased an urban sump boat that Tybalt and Atellus piloted across the river and further southward into the Sinks.
Relying heavily on Tybalt’s augers, the characters make their way as far south as they can before locating a safe spot to hide their boat. From there the characters find themselves carrying on on foot, working across rooftops, ladders, makeshift bridges and platforms over the flooded sumps of the destitute ruins of Sinophia’s lost greatness. As the acolytes become aware that their disguise has lost its “local appeal”, they find themselves ambushed by a desperate slumgang. Cursing the attention and subsequent turmoil, the characters nevertheless put up a furious fight led by Constantine’s psychic assault. The gang is quickly torn apart, although some survivors manage to escape.
Eventually the party gets to the site of Jericus’s safehouse, a floor up in the skeletal remains of a former spyre-block, reigning supreme even in ruin among the remains of other dead spyres. Access is tricky, but the site has an incredible overview of its surroundings without giving much away to observers. There are numerous points of escape as well, although several of them consist of wires and bridges to other spyres that only Jericus himself would traverse without rather copious amounts of anxiety.
Once the team is confident that the area is secured, and that they haven’t been tracked to this site; they set up securing the position. Constantine and Tybalt both use their unique talents to ensure the hiding place’s safety, assisted by Crom with regard to more practical manners.
Cromwell also reconnoiters the area, getting the lay-out of the land. It is not as abandoned as it first seemed. There are several pockets of lively underground communities, apparently self-governed under the heavy oversight of the Rag-court representatives, and underworld organization of criminals and gang lords. There is, however; a distinct difference between the communities of District XIII and District XI – although they are situated near the boarder it is clear that the locals harbor no love or sympathy for the lawless communities of the former forge areas.
Atellus investigates what he can find of the remnants of Imperial faith, and comes across a humble cult of God-Emperor-fearing subjects who follow the teachings of an elderly missionary with no eyesight. Atellus ingratiates himself with the small cult, and quickly charms the old missionary into believing he has been guided to him to carry on his work. Atellus’s sermons quickly begin to draw attention from others in the community.
Further investigations across the boarder into District XI reveals that there are similar pockets of communities in the deeper sinks, although their tech-legacy is apparent in the scavenging societies. SIlas comes across an urban caravan that traverses the waterways on long, automated stilts; and observes firsthand the trade in components, lost tech, faded servitors and various other scrap that keeps the destitute economy grinding among the near-lost and soon-to-be-damned of SInophioa Magna’s Deistrict XI.
Atellus continues to ingratiate himself with the small cult, following the blind missionary on his rounds blessing those who seek the God-Emperor’s protection. His charms quickly find favor among the flock, but Atellus doesn’t feel he can waste any time so he confides in the Missionary, saying he is here on a mission and needs to get in touch with the Undertow.
Tybalt and Constantine both continue to secure their safe house, through their own preferred means. However, once Atellus returns with a lead they all decide to approach the supposed contact with the undertow. Finding the man, Grim Vverruks; Atellus approaches him rather truthfully and explains that they seek to discuss the matter of the murders with local “authorities”. Appreciating Atellus as sincere, Grim says he will bear word and bids the new missionary goodbye.
The following day Atellus receives word of a time and place to meet a representative of the Rag Court. He brings this information to the attention of the rest of the cell, and they discuss their options. Ultimately they all decide to go, putting their trust in the God-Emperor but armed as if they would be expecting trouble. The meeting place is a small landing along the wider venue of water, and as they arrive the few people present clear out. A single, cloaked figure beckons them forward, but as they approach him he quickly reaches out and stabs an injector into Constantine’s wrist.
Before the acolytes react, a familiar voice asks them to halt. Turning, they see the Missionary approaching, but erect and obviously seeing them. His transformation is uncanny, but he quickly assuages the group and explains that the drug injected into Constantine is simply a matter of precaution. It is not dangerous, but will dull the mind enough to make psychic manifestations dangerous. There are several armed guards surrounding the clear area now.
A large, enclosed barge comes into view, floating down the murky watereays towed by two small skimmer craft. Once it is docked the acolytes are invited in, accompanied by six menacing undertow guards. The door closes, and the barge moves off gently. Next the acolytes are surprised by the young Elizah, who runs up to Atellus and hugs him, whispering that she is happy he’s still alright. Before anything else can be said, Hesul – Rag-King of the Undertow Rag Court – appears.
This large, menacing lady calmly takes a seat while introducing herself to the party and explaining that although she’s been tracking them for some time (obvious given her employment of Elizah), it was high time they all met. Though since the Acolytes instigated the meeting, however, she invites them to tell her what they wanted to say. Once explaining their suspicion of Ammicus Tole, however; Hesul offers them a trade. If they infiltrate District XI and disrupt the operations of a certain Techpriest called Nahdrek (a person whom might also be able to give the Acolytes some information regarding Ammicus), she will present the acolytes with some pieces of information she believes will be highly interesting to the Acolytes.
The cell packs up their gear, adjusting their disguise with the intent to pose as a visiting Rogue Trader seeking contraband deep within the 11th district. They make their way across the boarder, seeking the caravan “The Crawler”. They investigate its path, and spend the night hiding in the ruins while awaiting its arrival. The next morning Tybalt picks up the blaring binary transmissions that herald the arrival of the caravan. Large numbers of people from all ends of District 11 also converge as the caravan makes port to trade with the Enginseers of the walker. The crowds make it hard to approach, but Tybalt clears the way with a Feedback Screech. As the party approaches the barge in the wake of the horrible siren, Tybalt concludes the harsh negotiations for passage.