The Killing Smile - Mission Log

Prologue

Truly she was a beauty - a grand, cosmic rarity of such significance that the Adeptus Mechanicus had dedicated an entire cohort of Magos and Priests to the study of its mysteries. I guess to the many who lived upon the myriad of stations which made up Port Aquila the sight had become mundane or commonplace, but to a foreigner such as myself, the bright blue supergiant known as Diomedea Stella held my gaze for longer than most.

The tinny buzzing of my chrono snapped my from my reverie - it was time to meet with the Inquisitor. I subconsciously felt for the small grey box located in my careworn satchel bag, and felt reassured by the cool touch of its plasteel skin. The Inquisitor would be most please with this early victory - the recovery of an artefact as sought after as this would boost his position within the Askellon Conclave significantly.

Following the directions relayed to my dataslate, I navigated the bustling hallways and corridors of Armello Station. Hundreds upon thousands of Imperial souls going about their day; traders, marines, pilots, riggers, belters, captains, criminals and gangers - all making it though another day of their insignificant lives. They had no idea of the true dangers which lie just beyond the black, nor the more insidious threats which lurk beneath their very noses. The crowds thinned as I made my way deeper into the station until I found myself alone in a dimly lit chamber. A single lumen shed its pitiful light upon a worn door suffering from years of neglect - it's once bright red paint flaking and water-damaged. With a metallic beep my dataslate let me know that I had arrived at the Inquisitor's location. Without prompt the door swung inwards, barely an inch, but enough to know that I was invited to enter. Gripping the cool steel of the corroded handle I made my way inside. I could not have been more unprepared for what I found through that rusted red door.

Everything, from the tables to the chairs to the paintings and trim, was drenched in such opulence that for a moment I felt as if I had walked into the stateroom of the King family manor in Macedon. A gilded chandelier hung from the ceiling supporting delicate crystal goblets containing flickering candles, around which a cherub orbited, softly playing an antique violin. Appearing suddenly from a side room was the Inquisitor himself, dressed in a soft blue-velvet robe and sporting an old-fashioned smoking pipe. His hair was expertly parted and his face clean shaven - he wouldn't have looked out of place in any game house of any number of noble houses.

"Ah, Miss King. Delighted to see you." Spoke Grendel warmly, striding towards a silvered tray bearing chalices of rich amasec.
"Drink?" he offered, pouring himself a generous serve of the amber liquid.

Still quite stunned by the whole scenario, I merely nodded, struck dumb by the sudden shift in surroundings.

"Come, come. Sit, I implore you." Inquisitor Grendel indicated to a pair of mahogany backed chairs chased in red linen.

Once I had taken my seat, the Inquisitor handed me a chalice and took the other, giving his glass of amasec a little swirl and drawing in a deep breath through his nose.

"A fine drop this one - aged 33 years on Thaur by the finest monks of the Osseiates. Those grave-worlders might be a sour lot, but their liquors are valued highly across the sector."

Finally grasping my senses, I offered up the grey, plasteel stasis box with my free hand. "This is the artefact you ordered retrieved from Vanth, Sir. Might I say that the Cell performed admirably in their duties. With a few gentle suggestions the House of Rosh believe that the Adeptus Mechanicus are the aggressors in this, leaving none the wiser to our activities."

Taking the box in his perfectly manicured hands, the Inquisitor placed it upon his lap and raised his glass to me. "My thanks, Miss King. This will aide us greatly in the times to come. Please, take a bottle of this amasec for your team as a token of my thanks."

"That is most gracious of you, sir." I say, accepting the tall bottle of dark liquid. "They will be heartily enjoyed by the Cell."

"Quite, quite." said Grendal through a wide smile. "I have your next assignment here too - you won't be catching much of a break at this rate, Miss King, but I am confidant you are up to task." The Inquisitor proffered up a dataslate from somewhere within his voluminous robes.

Taking the offered device, I scanned through the contents while the Inquisitor perused the stasis box sitting in his lap.

"Cultist killings, sir? Do you believe it to be simple gangers trying on their big-boy shoes, or do you think there is something more to this?"

"Well Miss King, the local constabulary of Desoleum have thus-far written this off as the work of local gangs, but we can't expect simple officers to look too deeply into such things. No I suspect there is more to this - call it intuition, call it experience, but there is a secret in Desoleum."

Standing abruptly, Grendel downed the remainder of his drink in one swallow.

"Gather your team, Miss King. Desoleum awaits and every second we spend here is another given to the ruinous powers."

Nodding in agreement, I down my own drink and head towards the exit.

"And Miss King!" Called Grendel

Turning back to face my master, I found myself in a dark grey room befit of all luxuries. The walls were stained with years of mildew and mould, the paintings are instead simple graffiti and the chandelier no more than an emergency light covered in cobwebs. Our once opulent chairs are forgotten cargo containers, and our fine crystal chalices are weathered cups of common plastic. Grendel himself is dressed in rags more fitting to a rating than an Inquisitor, and his face bears marks of grease and grime.

"Looks, much like myself, can be deceiving…"


Part 1: Vice


Entry 1.1: The Gangs of Desoleum

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[Pilgrims approach Capital Hive]

"It was a slaughter Boss,” rasped the prostrate ganger, his sweat-drops tapping to the sheet-metal floor. “That foreigner was trying to get back through the tunnels. We ambushed him, but he had reinforcements. Mikkens, Davro and Jerik are dead.”
Boss Ironknuckle brooded on his cogwork throne, his bionic hand clicking as it clenched and unclenched. So close to the Financial New Year, he could tolerate no hint of weakness, nor allow any challenge to go unanswered. Groaning to his feet, his synthetic voice boomed out across the cavernous factory.
“These outsiders give us insult by infringing our territory and spilling our brother-blood. An Oath-Cog and a Blessing of Steel to the Ironmonger who brings me their heads!”

[Arrival on Desoleum]
The putrid heart of Askellon, Desoleum Primus is choked with carcinogenic smog and groans under giga-tonnes of rusting iron and milling humanity. The acolytes of Cell Raptor were dropped at Kappex Orbital by Gallach, maintaining his guise as a merchant pilot. They have been joined for the first time by Davrus, a psychic information broker of House Octavius whose family connections provide a high-clearance Oath-Cog and passage on-world. Aware of the repressive system and checkpoints in place on Desoleum, the acolytes used the private shuttle-ride to discuss their cover stories. In order to travel freely, Thrane will act as a bonded warrior-messenger of the Valospex Guild, while Gavriel Zane will seek a roaming remit as a deputised officer of the Financial Crimes Division. Descending through toxic clouds, the Acolytes dwell over the case-files provided on the handful of killings.

The spaceport swarmed with impossible crowds, the relentless bump-and-jostle a claustrophobic trial for the non-hiver Acolytes. They passed by the local equivalent of a hanging -where a woman’s bones were being ritually broken- and made their way towards the Docks District. The safehouse address is an abandoned refinery, its doors, windows and vents welded shut. Having watched their top-to-bottom search of the building for an entrance, a haggard beggar approaches the agents and chuckling, opens the front door. Revealing himself as Intelligencer Wolffe, he is the subject of immediate dislike by the Acolytes.

Entering the refrigeration unit within, Gavriel examined the bodies of the two victims. One had been found dead, -his lips and cheeks removed with a blade- not far from his place of work at a House Werner vox-unit production line. The other had been shot when she attacked a patrolling Sanctionary, ranting incoherently and bleeding from her facial wounds. Wolffe explains that he cannot provide Arbite clearance or cogs, so Zane travels to the local Enforcer precinct to validate his cover. The watch-house bustles with thuggish constables, more focused on enforcing Consortium schedules than on solving crimes. A disinterested official stamps Zane’s investigative brief, granting limited access to the case database. He discovers that three other bodies had been found with similar injuries to the face, and though differing in age and background, all were discovered on the boundary to the Lower Hive.

Canvassing a succession of foul bars, Thrane had sifted the local scumbags to single out the Ironmonger gang as useful to the investigation. Offering up valuable implants salvaged on the previous mission, Thrane arranges an introduction to the gang’s officers. Led to a nearby stronghold through a maze of dingy tunnels, he asks to trade the implants and his services as a technomat for information about rival gangs and access to their forge facilities. He confirms that at least twelve other mutilations had occurred below the Sanctionary cordon, and suspicion is narrowed down from the Prettyskins –who mutilate flesh as an insult to enemies- and the Death-Heads –who remove facial flesh entirely- to either the Red Lions or Scalpel King gangs. Everything points to escalating violence as gangs compete for Consortium patronage upon the New Financial Year. But reluctant to undergo the gang’s ritual scarring and initiation, Thrane’s deal falls through. He is relieved of the bionics and escorted back up out of Ironmonger territory.

The Cell is eager to look into the revelation of further killings, returning to the Underhive in search of the rumoured 'Ludmilla's Den'. They avoid the Sanctionary checkpoints by squeezing down narrow pipes and venturing through a warren of ironwork, their footsteps echoing disjointedly in the shattered hab. As they round a bend, facing up a steep and rubble-strewn incline, they are deafened by the boom of shotgun blasts. Scattershot shreds the metal all around them, and the Cell scampers into cover. Darting into a side tunnel, Davrus and Gavriel attempt to round the attackers’ flank. Throwing himself around a blind corner, the gunslinger startles a slab-muscled ganger, delivering a slug to the head at point-blank range. Another is hurled bodily down a narrow chamber, smashed to pulp as Davrus reveals his powers. Emerging back onto the main tunnel, the agents reinforce the embattled Thrane, who is bloodied and in retreat. A lone survivor, revealed as a member of the Ironmonger gang, escapes the Cell's pursuit. Forced to retire to tend his wounds, the reclaimator is sent back to the Medicae Wards while his colleagues proceed.

Making their way by stablight, Darvus and Gavriel navigate deeper into the darkness, growing anxious as the tunnel winds on. Unable to find the exit, they finally spill out on the shores on an underground sump, a reeking lake of oil and human waste. Knowing they had blundered too far, they discover a rotting barge with which to cross the swamp, progressing towards the lights of a nearby settlement. Out on the gloom, suspended on stilts of rusting wreckage, a mutant settlement subsists by scavenging the detritus that floats in the ooze. Shouts of alarm and challenge break out as the agents punt closer, misshapen figures gathering on the jetties. A bedraggled shaman -his tongue lolling from a jawless skull- emerges from the mob rattling his fetishes. An unsanctioned telepath, he speaks directly into the agent’s minds, prompting Gavriel to reflexively respond. His suspicion aroused, Davrus watches the frontiersman with interest as he negotiates silently with the mutant. Lost in the dark, the primitives are their only hope of returning to civilisation.


Entry 1.2: Snowcrash

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[Gavriel and Davrus delve the Underhive]

Raising gentle puffs of marrow and pink particulate, the bonesaw whined as the surgeon worked. Hunched over the operating table, she hummed and tutted over his screams. "Hush, my darling," she cooed as he rattled his restraints. "I am remaking you, beyond pain or fear. You will be better this way - closer to your beloved corpse-regent." She laid a bloody hand on his chest, mentally reviewing the tape of his excruciation. "So many gorgeous confessions," she whispered, blood drizzling down from the gurney and seeping into her robes. With so many eyes, and now the Left Hand roving the hive, she knew she would have to accelerate her plans. But for now -absentmindedly dumping the severed limb into a crate- she settled in to the simple pleasure of building something.

[Meme Virus]
The gentle rocking of the inky water set the barge's glowlamps creaking, and twisted figures leered in windows of the shanty-town above. To their relief, the Acolytes were finally permitted to come ashore, climbing rickety wooden steps up to the gibbering crowd. The Shaman informed them that hundreds of "cut-faces", outcast lunatics even among mutants, were begin snatched by a shadowy beast whose predations now threatened the village. Dredging one such unfortunate soul out of a dank cells, they urged the powerful outsiders to use him as a lure to kill the lurking monster. Trussed to a post on the village's rotting fringe, the gagged mutant begins thrashing and gabbling in his bonds, warning of an encroaching creature. A slender figure, taller than a man and enclosed in rusted metal, looms out of the dark shortly before Gavriel's sniper bullet severs it's leg at the knee. Toppling over, it is finished off with a spurt of gunfire and wrapped in a tarpaulin for transport.

Some hours earlier, caught in his hospital gown, Thrane stared down the barrel of an Ironmonger's shotgun. Though attempting to knock the gun aside, he is winged by shot and savaged with axe-blows as he struggles with the ganger. Fending off his assailant with a blind swing of his chainsword, he found himself held again at gunpoint by officers of hospital security. Slamming the door on them, he dons his clip harness and escapes down the outer wall, but loses his grip on the insensate ganger. Leaving the man's splattered remains in the street, the reclaimator hobbles to the car, staples his wounds and receives the request for pickup from his stranded colleagues.

The city seeming ever more menacing, Gavriel is drawn to the streets to put an ear to the ground. Mixing with locals at the wharves, he learns that a babbling sickness has afflicted dozens of workers and Sanctionaries in a handful of days. Concluding that the madness is spread by word of mouth, he lands upon the awful concept of a "language-virus"; corrupted words that like scrap-code, infect and corrode the minds of those who hear them. Returning to the perfumed chambers of the Baroque Recaf House, Davrus overhears the 'dreadful plight' of several mutilated employees associated with Werner Vox-Works, a manufactory pushing for Great House status. Their suspicions narrowing rapidly, the Acolytes converge on the workshop, where Thrane has salvaged the machine-creature's auspex. Tuned to the distinctive sound of the vox-sickness, dubbed "Snowcrash", the advanced servitor is programmed to capture and gag sufferers and return them to a home location.

In need of more advanced facilities, Thrane reluctantly returns to the Underhive. He is marched by disbelieving Gangers to the throne of Ironknuckle, where he again pledged unusual tech in exchange for favour. Impressed by the offering, the cyborg calls off the bounty on the Cell, though insists that the reclaimator undergo ritual burns and scarring. So initiated, Thrane toils in the forge for two days, returning to the cordon with an exotic claw weapon and a crucial component of the Cell's new plan - a tracking implant.

Refining their earlier trick, the Acolytes inject their captive mutant with the device, staking out a tumbledown hab in an autocarriage. Taking shifts to watch the darkened windows, Gavriel is on watch when the signal suddenly lurches, and they following at a distance as it recedes. They are led to an abandoned location on the boundary of the Underhive, a police-taped warehouse marked 'Desoleum Arts & Antiquities'. Though discretely examining the grounds, they discover only a heavily barred cellar door, and attract the notice of the murderous Scalpel Kings gang. Noting the authoritative tone of a career-Arbite, they slink off at a sharp word from Gavriel, but leave lingering threats behind them. Resolving to gain forcible entry, Davrus and Gavriel go to obtain lascutters, leaving Thrane to surveil the hidden entrance.

Upon their return, the Acolytes find no sign of Thrane, and fearing that he has been captured, focus their efforts with new urgency. The heavy door is laboriously cut open, but no sooner had it groaned aside that they were peppered with a hail of gunfire. Grunting as lasbolts scorch and scour them, they are driven back, blind and deaf as flash-bangs detonate in their midst. Struggling to mount a reply, they hurl grenades of their own and scramble into scant cover. They are caught unaware when a heavy Grabber-Droid thunders down from the upper storeys, smashing Gavriel to the ground and choking him with iron pincers. Retreating as more lurching figures emerge from the tunnel, Davrus spirited back to the car with lasfire sizzling overhead. Executing crisp evasive maneuvers, servitor A55 guns the autocarriage away, bullets sparking off it's chassis, with more Grabbers in dogged pursuit. An indeterminate time later, Gavriel came blearily awake - bolted to an iron rack - the gristly, respiring remains of his comrade Thrane spread out on the table before him.

The Honoured Dead:
Thrane the Wastelander, sawed apart by Hereteks in the dungeons of Desoleum.


Entry 1.3: Needle in a Haystack

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[the Killing Smile contagion spreads]

Gallach sank back into the cockpit, staring bleakly past the palm-sized hologram of Davrus. In the dark beyond the glass, navigation lights blinked, swarming like a thousand stately fireflies around Kappex Orbital. Ten billion people, oblivious to the blow their secret protectors had suffered, carried on living their lives. Reluctantly, Gallach turned to the stony-faced projection of Wolffe.

"Alright, we need help," he said. "But I've got someone in mind."

[Pursuing 'the Surgeon']
Time crawled as Davrus waited alone in the confines of the safehouse, alternating between fitful research and agitated pacing. He watched the hours dragging by, tormented by thoughts of his comrades' suffering, while by swift mutual agreement Gallach broke cover for Kappex Orbital. Activating an Inquisitorial asset stationed there, he returned to Desloeum with an old war buddy in tow. An assault specialist from Terminus, Coldo Valentin would prove a welcome reinforcement in this moment of crisis. By the time the pair reached the smog-wreathed spaceport, just under 20 hours had passed since the capture. Though affronted by the inclusion of a psyker to his Cell, Gallach listened as Davrus outlines the beginnings of a plan. Armed with the blueprints of Desoleum Arts and Antiquities, he had identified a sewer line large enough to wade down. Entering via a pipe displaced by the hivequakes, the Cell could search and clear the lower level, while at Gallach's suggestion, a handful of local thugs would draw away any Grabber Droids. Though priority one was the recovery of Gavriel and Thrane, both Gallach and Davrus had burning questions for the architect of their capture.

Enclosed in full hazard gear, the three operatives sloshed through knee-deep sewage towards the broken entrance. Lowering themselves silently into pitch darkness, they edged into a refrigerated space, making for the guttering life-signs displayed on Elroy’s auspex. From his crows-nest far overhead, Wolffe signalled the distraction-by-ganger, and the Acolytes slapped on their stablights in unison. The temperature dropped sharply as they entered the morgue, discarded bones and rotting meat floating around their ankles as they splashed through the overflow. The mangled corpse of Thrane was hoisted on a cog above, spread-eagled to display the blasphemous alterations that had been inflicted on him. Pockmarked with dozens of needle-bruises, Gavriel was discovered insensate on a gurney, his heartbeat nothing more than a flutter. But as the Acolytes rushed to aid them, a metallic screech cut across the darkness, and Thrane’s one remaining eye burned suddenly coal-bright.

Davrus hurled himself sideways as the Thrane-thing’s chainsword came crashing down, churning gouts of cloudy water into the air. Horrified, he was unable to attack the stretched visage of his former friend, scrambling to stay out of it’s reach. As it raised a snarling claw to finish him, it was hurled sideways by the impact of Gallach’s large-calibre bullets, and it rounded on him in frustration. As it bore down on him, he too seemed to frozen by the familiar face. But under no such compulsion, Coldo calmly unloaded a rapid succession of shotgun blasts into it’s head and torso. Ducking as it’s claw sheared blindly towards him, Gallach stepped back and emptied an entire autogun clip into the body. The subject of concentrated firepower by the navy-trained warriors, the servitor was continuously knocked out of arms' reach by Octavius' powers. It's skull was finally split by a two handed blow from Coldo’s axe-bayonet, and the Cell reflected that Thrane had always been tough - but never much of a fighter.

Realising that the commotion of the ganger’s attack had also subsided, the Cell scarcely avoided the machine-gun fire that suddenly chewed through the centre of the room. Another combat servitor, perhaps a further victim of the heretek, sloshed slowly into the room, it’s fat stream of bullets sawing fountains of water into the air. Their ammo dry, Coldo and Gallach scattered under fire. But haloed by crackling power, Davrus flung out a hand and swept both them and Gavriel's gurney out of harm's way. As the chattering weapon was swivelled towards him, a flourish of telekinesis jammed the belt in its feeder. Contemplating the ineffectually rotating barrels, the servitor looked up just in time to receive a running thrust of Coldo's spear through the head. The facility was revealed to be all but empty, littered with signs of a hasty but thorough withdrawal of its inhabitants. The narrow outer corridor was a charnel house of slaughtered gangers, chewed into pulp by the slain servitor’s guns. By a stroke of luck, among the discarded medical tools and equipment, a cylinder was found containing a strange plant resembling a root vegetable. Collecting this sole clue, the Acolytes left the desolate industrial zone behind.

Gavriel was coaxed back from the precipice of death over a handful of days, as reports of the self-mutilating sickness spread. In the dingy bars and habs of the main hive, people regarded each other even more warily, as though anyone could be on the verge of madness. While fear rose like a fever over the hive, the Acolytes worked to piece together the gunslinger’s fragmented memories of his imprisonment. Privately, they worry over why Gavriel had been left alive at all. His chief tormentor he described as ‘the Biologis’, or simply “the Surgeon”, recalled overhearing the name of the supreme Scalpel Kings Boss Khrüno, as well as that of the nearby Agri World of Kalto. They decide to capture and question a Fleshcutter, and with the help of a high-class escort named Anna-Beth, lure a local chieftain into a trap. Silently executing his bodyguards, the Cell disguise the killing as a gang-hit. Interrogated by Garviel, he revealed the Kings’ complicity in the Surgeon’s plans, reaping surgical genetic enhancements in exchange for muddying evidence of the Killing Smile by mutilating their own victims.

House Werner moves ever closer to claiming Great Houses status, despite the mounting number of snowcrash cases among its workforce. The Scalpel Kings extend their territory, fuelled by the genetic gifts of the Surgeon, and all are linked by the infamous scourge of the Kalto Boneweed. Frustrated by his own lack of insight, Elroy spends his evening loitering in gang territory, hoping his sharp eyes will spot the missing link. But mulling over stale recaf one night, he found himself unexpectedly cornered by local muscle. Knowing his equipment would raise new suspicions, he could not allow himself to be searched or captured. Hurling a smoke grenade into the face of a leering ganger, he threw himself to the ground as their autopistols chattered to life. Breathing heavily through his respirator, he is corralled in the smoke, snapping off shots as the thugs spray blindly after him. One at a time, heads explode or limbs are severed by his high-gauge reply, but as the smoke clears, he is charged in a rush. The survivors are feral, frothing at the mouth as they stab their knives into him again and again. Only by the grace of the God Emperor, leaving most of his blood in the street with the corpses, does he limp away alive, gripping a hard-won clue to the larger plot.


Part 2: Priority Target

++Subject Alpha: 'The Surgeon'

  • Crimes:
  • Kidnapping of an Adeptus Arbites Officer [1 count].
  • Torture of an Adeptus Arbites Officer [1 count].
  • Tech-Heresy [3 counts]. Refer to Adeptus Mechanicus
  • Kidnapping [1 count].
  • Desecration of a Corpse [6 counts].
  • Intention to Incite Unrest [10 counts].
  • Intent to Commit Dangerous Conduct [3 counts].
  • Deception of an Arbite [5 counts].
  • Attempted Unsanctioned Murder [3 counts].
  • Suspicion of Intent to Commit Public Desecration of Building [1 count].
  • Known Alias': 'The Biologis', 'The Surgeon'.
  • Known Affiliates: Adeptus Mechanicus, Desoleum Prime "Flesh Cutter" gangs.

Entry 1.4: Miss Daisy

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[House Werner Factorum]

Gavriel's pulse raced. His torment at the hands of the Surgeon was still raw, still too fresh, and sweat beaded on his brow under the harsh lights of the safe-house's medi-bay. He had stammered to a halt in the mist of giving his report, vividly reliving the horrors of his capture. When he looked up, the others were staring at him quizzically. "What did you just say?" asked Wolffe, so he began repeating himself.

With an alarming clash of toppling stools and equipment, everyone covered their ears and bolted from the room.

[Investigating House Werner]
As Wolffe attaches a prosthetic leg to the stump where he removed Gallach's hours earlier the cell discusses the next step in their investigation. They agree that House Werner was too involved to leave out of the equation and set about making a plan to infiltrate both their factory in the main hive and their noble manor in the upper hive. As data-thief devices arrive on request from Interrogator King, Davrus goes out into the hive and acquires disguises and identity cogs for Coldo and Gallach. The next day the pair find themselves shuffling alongside the menials of House Werner into Factorum 55-B. After two days undercover the pair hear very little about the 'Killing Smile' affliction but do manage to uncover that all the newly hired workers were suggested by a strange visitor known as the "Thin Man". With Coldo causing the distraction Gallach plants a data thief and the pair return to the safehouse to compile their findings.

On the third day of Gavriel's affliction Coldo and Davrus head up-hive to meet with the representatives of House Werner. Coldo uncomfortable in the House Octavius bodyguard's attire the pair have a legal and honest meet up, Davrus using his families influence to gain access to the House Werner facilities. Meanwhile armed with a grapple and line Gallach scales the outside of the House Werner factorum, stowing away in the personal mag-rail used by the 'Thin Man' and tracking him away from the factory. The mag-rail travels for several hours with Gallach clinging to the bottom with white knuckles, eventually stopping at a station in an abandoned section of the hive. He follows the 'Thin Man' for many miles through abandoned and dusty streets, barely lit as the lighting had decayed or simply gone off over its many years lacking attention. Eventually the black suited man comes to a massive factorum bearing the cog symbol of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Easily ten times the size of Werner Factory, this is one of the vast mega-production facilities that keep the Imperium functioning. Once the man enters the building Gallach observes for a time before noting his location on the vox and returning to the safehouse, the hour now fast approaching midnight.

Meanwhile earlier that day Davrus and Coldo meet with the Werner representative Lady Saskia within the bio-fields of their manor house. A beautiful rolling green field with a synthetic sun on which the majestic glassteeds prance. Even Davrus is awed by this excessive display of wealth, and Lady Saskia is upfront about the dealings of her house within the city. They talk at length about the troubles in the city, House Werner having been made aware ahead of time that the Sanctionaries intend to perform a full cordon on the lower-hive due to the spread of the 'Killing Smile' affliction. The Arbites have been called in and the situation being publicly declared a "failure of obedience" in the lower castes. Lady Saskia also reveals her houses intention to ascend to the Consortium in the next financial year, casting down House Muska. The primary source of this new influence is Werner's production of the mega-casters used to broadcast the 'Address of Servitude' throughout the hive. After an exchange of more pleasantries Davrus ends the meeting and says farewell to House Werner, meeting an exhausted Gallach back at the safehouse.

The three remaining members of Cell Raptor confer within the safehouse, compiling their information and doing some quick research on Wolffe's hard wired cogitator. The Address of Servitude is a vox announcement at the start of the new financial year that declares who the new Consortium are and is broadcast to every vox unit in the hive, as well as in the massive cathedral in the centre of the main hive via mega-vox units. Whatever the malicious minds behind the Killing Smile virus are planning, with a vocally transmitted affliction in play the Address must be involved somehow. They also find the property listed at the address Gallach observed is an abandoned Adeptus Mechanicus factorum designated 00A5, known colloquially now as the 'Shattered Foundry'. It was abandoned decades ago when it was declared cursed after the death of a Magos within its grounds. Whatever the Werner plans with the Address were the 'Thin Man' was involved somehow, and so his facility within the Shattered Foundry must be uncovered.

The next morning the group makes their way through the long processional of abandoned hab blocks and machinery that leads up to the Shattered Foundry, footsteps throwing up heavy clouds of the dust that lines the streets. They camp across the square from the Foundry, but before they even enter the hundred metre high brass doors the creatures that call this place home find them. Thousands of swarming insectoid creatures rush towards them as they leave their hiding place, gnashing mandibles and squawking in an alien tongue. Dozens are blasted by Coldo's shotgun or bursts of psychic energy from Davrus, but more still come. Eventually the swarm engulfs the cell, pincers finding flesh as they skitter over the acolytes. The creatures are legion, but the acolytes eventually drive them back. Pierced by knives, smashed apart by reinforced stocks or imploded by precision telekinesis the creatures are squashed into oblivion until eventually their numbers are too few and they flee into the darkness of the surrounding buildings. Only then does their master come. A massive figure in rags rushes forward with inhuman speed, one hand effortlessly wielding a hulking cleaver. The creature blurs with unnatural agility and steps past bullets as he slashes deeply into Coldo and Gallach. As the two fall Davrus throws psychic blasts at the creature, barely slowing it down as it lurches towards him. Finally it shudders as with his last shell Coldo blasts cleanly through its torso. The creature falls and attaching a fire bomb to its head the group makes sure it would never rise again. Stepping inside the Foundry Gallach finds hundreds of sleeping mutants, each armed with lasguns and covered in disgusting boils and sores. Further within a voice rings out from the darkness, an oozing wound of a voice that would made him nauseous just to hear. Fleeing from pure fear Gallach leaves the strange voice and the hundreds of mutants far behind.

Back at the safehouse Wolffe sees to the many and deep wounds the cell sustained at the Shattered Foundry and Davrus compiles a report to send to King. With Gavriel still incapacitated Gallach had reluctantly ceded cell direction to Davrus, and the noble born had taken no time at all stepping into his new position. A report detailing the situation at the Shattered Foundry and within the hive is sent to King and the cell spends an anxious two days resting under Wolffe's ministrations while they wait for a reply. The reply is brief, King acknowledging their good work so far and making suggestions for their future direction. She discounts a connection between the Boneweed and the Killing Smile, having done independent research in the vast libraries of the Inquisition. She suggests the group focus on delaying the Address of Servitude and discovering the nature of the creature within the Shattered Foundry. To this end she grants them access to the Inquisitorial armoury on Desoleum and her permission to "get the job done however you need to". As they group prepares to visit the armoury and sets plans in motion for the next part of their investigation they receive an odd missive.

+++Vox Received: Source Unknown
+++Things are getting out of hand. I suggest we should meet.
+++The Surgeon


Entry 1.5: Weapons Free

Foundry.png
[Mutants defend the Shattered Foundry]

"Do you know what happens when a criminal is shown leniency? Two more join him in criminality. When a secessionist world is not put to the torch we justify the whispered heresies of every traitor. Taint does not run shallow. You cannot be half a heretic!"
Gavriel's voice rises as he finishes, his commanding tone echoing across the observation deck of the Raptor Cell hab unit on Kappex Station. Approaching from where he was finishing his amasec Gallach looks at his friend with concern. Thrane had long since left the room, eager to be anywhere but between these two in an argument about theology. One hand gripping something in his coat pocket Gavriel continues with increased fever pitch.
"There can be no compromise with the darkness Gallach. None. Not ever. There is no truce with evil."
Gallach puts his hand on Gavriel's shoulder and proffers him a glass of the amber liquid before speaking quietly.
"Peace brother, it was an idle comment. I have seen the face of chaos as well as you. I know the price of purity."
Hand still in his pocket Gavriel does not reply, looking out the window at the smog clouds of Desoleum.
A month ago, before deployment on Desoleum

[The Cell wades in]
Activated upon King's order Wolffe leads the acolytes towards the the Inquisitorial armoury hidden within Desoleum hive. Beneath the basement of a second hand store in the main hive the group inserts a series of data-chips and pass codes to pass through many layers of security. Within is a dusty collection of armour, weapons and ammo collected from all across the sector and left here for acolytes to use in case of last resort. Davrus, Gallach and Coldo quickly spread out to find what they needed, refilling their weapons and trying on suits of armour and equipment. Davrus pulls on a pair of photo-contacts and bags a bandolier of photon flash grenades. From a bust he takes a golden aquila, secretly a powerful refractor field. Gallach takes from a mannequin a suit of Inquisitorial carapace and an ivory boltgun, while beneath a tarpaulin at the back of the armoury he finds a run down but serviceable suppressor class rhino armoured vehicle. Coldo hefts a massive long-barrelled autocannon before finding in an armour case a suit of rare power armour. With servos firing he stands nearly 7ft tall in the armour, and the group takes their equipment back to the hectin to travel back to the safehouse. Fully armed and armoured the group meets with the Surgeon the following day, the red robed heretek accompanied by a dozen local gangers and a pair of combat servitors. She speaks of offering a truce with the party. She would give them the 'cure' for the Killing Smile affliction and the method by which to distribute it on the condition that she be let leave the hive. She says her "work" is done here, and offers to help heal the afflicted if the acolytes promise her amnesty. Davrus discusses the matter with her, delicately probing her for clues as to her purpose, but when she mentions infecting Gavriel on purpose Gallach snaps. Raising his new boltgun he takes aim and fires.

Shouts break out as the Surgeon staggers back from Gallach's rounds, her servitors surging forwards. Davrus manages to push back the servitors with a burst of telekinetic energy while Coldo brings his new autocannon to bear. The Surgeon is ripped to shreds by the heavy rounds as Coldo laughs, her bionics and remaining organs slushing to the ground. While the group fights off her combat servitors they do not notice the gang members retrieving the Surgeon's remains. Gallach leaves to track the gang, discovering from their tattoos that they belong to the Brass Bones clan. Returning to the safehouse with thoughts of a job well done the group are shocked to find Wolffe catatonic and the prison containing the afflicted Gavriel wide open. Rousing Wolffe Davrus reveals that Gavriel had begin to show psychic abilities, a fact he had hidden from the party. Returning later Gallach is furious, grabbing his weapons and promising to hunt down his corrupted friend and put a bullet in his brain. At the door it is Coldo who calms him down, remarking in simple terms in his heavy accent that "we hunt traitors later, we kill heretics now". Calming Gallach agrees that the mission should come first. As Wolffe puts out the call to activate his assets Gallach fetches the suppressor rhino from the armoury and the group prepares to assault the Shattered Foundry.

Wolffe puts the call out to his assets for the assault on the Shattered Foundry and a trio of warriors arrive the following morning. Silens Iras is a tall and lithe female warrior in full steel feudal plate armour. The two handed sword she carries is marked with runes of protection and upon her chest she wears the sigil of the Adeptus Soritas. Accompanying her are a grizzled looking man carrying a shock maul and buckler that have had their Arbites sigils carved off. He introduces himself simply as the 'Reinforcer' and nods to his fellow as 'The Oathbreaker'. The Oathbreaker is clearly an ex-guardsman, and carries his worn scoped-las with comfort. On his forehead is the Desoleum brand of the oathbreaker, but even when pushed by Gallach he does not explain the crime that led to his branding. Stooped over blueprints of the Foundry Coldo and Gallach plan the assault. The suppressor rhino found at the armoury would ram open the doors and go in guns blazing. With Davrus performing a psychic ritual to discover the location of the corruption the rhino would make its way through the foundry towards the corruption. Coldo would support with his newly acquired autocannon while the Oathbreaker would use his night-scope to spot and eliminate valuable targets. Silens and the Reinforcer would be on hand within the APC for close quarters support, while Gallach would man the rhino itself. A plan decided upon the group gears up, putting on armour and hefting weapons and grenades before loading into the matte-black rhino. Some hours later the massive brass doors of the Shattered Foundry are rammed open by the rhino and all hell breaks loose.

The Suppressor blasts forward through the gloom, Gallach peering through its night-vision visor and skidding through the foundry. Dodging rubble and machinery the vehicle soon comes under fire, the hundreds of mutants Gallach witnessed apparently only the tip of the iceberg as thousands of lasguns fire at the black vehicle. The acolytes return fire and dozens of the mutants are ripped to shreds by explosive bolt rounds and the spinning autocannon that Coldo brings to bear. In a trance Davrus guides the rhino towards their goal with shouted instruction while Gallach skids and slides through the hazard filled foundry. Mobs of dagger wielding mutants leap atop the rhino as it slows to turn but are quickly dispatched by Silens with expert swings of her two handed sword, the remainder falling to the Reinforcer's shock maul. Leaders or heavy weapons troops are picked off by the Oathbreaker as it becomes more and more clear this is not a massive collection of mutants but rather a well equipped army! Reaching the end of the foundry floor a massive beast lumbers forward, tentacled and easily twice the size of the rhino it bellows with a lamprey mouth of brown fangs. Bellowing back Coldo unleashes the full power of his massive smoking autocannon, the high-calibre rounds splashing off puffs of purple blood before the creature finally falls to the ground with an echoing smash. Coldo spits on the beast as the rhino burns past its remains.

Smashing through a final wall into the foundry offices the rhino skids to a halt before a freight elevator. Davrus indicates that the source of the corruption lies above. The Reinforcer and Oathbreaker remain behind, the ex-arbite manning the pintle mounted storm bolter while the guardsman slams a fresh cartridge into his modified las. Led by the long strides of Silens the small group board the elevator and ascend towards the source of the corruption in the Shattered Foundry. Moving along the gantry way at the top of the foundry Davrus soon begins to feel ill from the pure proximity to the corruption and the group continues cautiously with Gallach and Coldo checking corners with practiced precision. Slowly moving through the smokey haze the terrifying voice rings out, offering the group power beyond their imagining and eternal life. The acolytes move forward unperturbed, avoiding the white sticky web that dots the gantry. The silence is broken when from above with a scream the Necrophage leaps upon Gallach. The creature, apparently killed days earlier, leaps at him with unnatural agility, cutting deeply with its curved and rusty cleaver. Gallach stumbles back and Coldo brings his auto-cannon to bear. The Necrophage simply ceases to exist in a red smudge, entirely obliterated as rounds rip it into pieces. A scream from Davrus serves to bring the pair back to reality, their fist bump premature as they see Silens running towards where Davrus is gripped by a fearsome beast. A tank sized monster with the lower body of a disease and pox ridden spider the upper body bears passing resemblance to a grey skinned female brandishing a curved wooden rod. As her face is revealed Coldo and Gallach panic, the pure fear of her presence incapacitating them. As the creature lurches forward Davrus extends his hands and halts her in place, her abilities and movement stoppered by his pure force of will. As the creature snarls in pain Silens rushes forward, in her hand a silver stake blessed by the holy Ecclesiarchy. She pierces the creatures breast with a cry and the foul creature disintegrates into ash as the holy weapon pierces her pustulant heart.

Some days later, still recovering from the ordeal at the Shattered Foundry, the cell recoops at the safehouse. Davrus and Coldo keep their pre-arranged appointment with House Muska, Davrus looking sickly and bound to a wheel-chair after his ordeal at the Foundry, the house set to lose their position in the Consortium to House Werner. Their seneschal Arto hides it well, but it is apparent House Muska is a house in decline. Negotiations are tense but Davrus manages to give them valuable information to slow down the Address of Servitude and organise a gelt payment to his noble house. Meanwhile Gallach and Silens track the Brass Bones to a middle-hive surgery. There they find the remains of a makeshift surgery, with used bionics and litres of blood caking the poor quality operating chamber. Amongst the refuse they find a set of cerebral implants and taking them to a local tech-adept find them to have belonged to the Surgeon. From the massive stream of data Davrus can determine a set of audible meme-codes that seem to focus on influencing the language centres of the brain. Experimenting with the code the cell finds that it makes the target not only docile but highly suggestive. The acolytes discuss the implications of such an ability, with a single broadcast able to control the millions of afflicted within Desoleum Prime. With consensus that this ability was beyond their pay grades the acolytes contact King and the Interrogator suggests they take the information to the Adeptus Mechanicus contingent in the hive and attempt to have a cure made that can be distributed amongst the population. Magos Marta of the Adeptus Mechanicus contingent at the Jade Foundry is more than happy to take the cure, but promises no altruism in its dispersal. With few other options the cell returns to the Safe House and the following day the vox-casters ring out with a pre-taped warning. The Address of Servitude is beginning…


Entry 1.6: Epidemiology

Address%20of%20Servitude.png
[The Address of Servitude begins in the Upper Hive]

In the safehouse the group listens to the Address of Servitude, the pure physical and mental cost of the mission apparent on their faces. Outside the address booms over vox units installed across the hive and everyone from he lowest scum to the highest noble stops what they are doing to listen. In the lower hive the address is broadcast over the Arbites vox even as they struggle against a new wave of afflicted charging the cordon. In the safehouse Coldo's usual grin is marred by cuts and bruises all over his face, while Gallach leans heavily on his prosthetic leg with a dark look in his eyes. Davrus is the worst for wear, the mental strain of containing the daemon within the Shattered Foundry having entirely robbed him of his strength. Bound in a wheel-chair his skin is a pale grey and his breaths are broken up by wet coughs every few minutes. Gavriel is still missing in action and Thrane dead upon a heretek's table. The vox sputters to life, broadcast into every personal and public vox in the hive across a single network. It is a marvel of engineering, and the only time Desoleum is ever truly united. Raptor Cell and their assets gather around their own vox-caster to listen to the broadcast that might determine the fate of the hive…

[The Address of Servitude arrives]
The Address warning bleeps over the internal vox and with a jolt the cell realises that none of the methods they had put into place to delay the Address had worked. With their plans with the Adeptus Mechanicus and House Muska fallen through the cell sits in silence for a few minutes, racking their brains for ideas of how to delay or stop the broadcast without utterly destroying the hive. Finally Silens suggests they attempt to figure out how the broadcast works and use that to find a way to delay it. With no other options the group complies, and soon finds themselves at the nearest public broadcast point. Coldo bundles a House Werner tech operator into the back of the Hectin and under Silens watchful eyes Davrus interrogates the man, dropping him sweating and shaking back at the safehouse some half hour later. From the man's information the cell gathered that the only way to broadcast another signal would be at the 'Tower of Song', an archeotech relic which the Adeptus Mechanicus use to broadcast the Address every year. Making their way across the hive at high speeds behind the steady wheel A55, the group soon arrives at the Tower of Song. Clogged by masses of people, the walkways surrounding the tower are packed to capacity and the cell soon needs to dismount and go on foot in order to progress further. Packing weapons and armour into satchels and go-bags they weave through the crowd, led by Davrus still limping with the aid of an ornate adamantine and ivory cane.

The 'Tower of Song' itself is a vast gold and bronze building carved with runes and signs that the Adeptus Mechanics still had teams deciphering centuries after its discovery. It is heavily guarded, with Sanctionaries and red carapace armoured Skitarri keeping civilians away from its doors. Using a grapple Silens leads the group up a sheer face and in through an air vent, wriggling onwards in incredible discomfort. Muscled beyond the rest of them Coldo would simply not fit in the vent, and hefting his shotgun he declares that he will find another way in. Dropping down into the Tower proper the group finds they are not alone in infiltrating the facility, half a dozen tech-adepts and Sanctionaries laying dead with a combination of toxic stab wounds and strange shad like puncture wounds. Following the dead bodies the small group soon finds themselves in a massive room filled with bronze antique cogitators. On the floor of the room lie the piled red robed bodies of the tech-adepts who operate the facility, with each replaced with a festering pockmarked mutant wearing grey-green robes. At the central console sits the so-called 'Thin Man', the agent of the creature at the Shattered Foundry. All look up as the acolytes enter, and in the second of silence the Thin Man draws a long thin pistol and lets loose a blast of razor thin shards that shatter on a nearby wound. As the mutants draw lasguns the cell responds, drawing weapons and moving forward to engage the heretics.

A burst of bolt rounds from Gallach's bolter cut the Thin Man in two, explosive rounds ripping apart his torso and sending him flailing backwards. Silens draws her sword and rushes foward, while Davrus dodges fire and ducks behind a massive bronze pylon filled with pulsing wires and cables. Suddenly however fire blossoms from the other side of the room. A half dozen bionic laden men in gang colours rush in, the Brass Bones gang led by their boss Villiam who holds a heavy las pistol in one hand. The air is filled with las and solid projectile rounds as the Foundry Mutants and Brass Bones turn and fire on one another, the two cults apparently working for different objectives. Grateful for the capriciousness of chaos the Cell returns fire on both, Davrus bringing his powers to bear and smashing back a handful of Brass Bones in a bloody mess. Villiam's pistol tears a hole cleanly through Gallach's new prosthetic leg, and his second beam throws the pilot cleanly off his feet in a smoking pile. The room is lit up with fire, priceless archeotech monitors burned away and wires destroyed as grenades go off amongst the pylons. Both gangs trade heavy fire at close range, the pure damage dealt to bodies and machinery baffling as frenzied foes fight to the death. Villiam lays out with his heavy las, killing mutants even as their cut down his own men. The room is bafflingly bright from las fire and painfully loud, the sounds of the Address entirely cut off by men fighting and dying.

Amidst this chaos the acolytes do the Emperor's work. Men from both sides are blasted down by psychic waves or cut in twix by Silens' blade, while in one corner Gallach pops off shots with his one good hand. Finally the battle can no longer continue and at last Villiam dies with one of Gallach's throwing knives in his chest and Silens' sword taking his head from his shoulders. Davrus moves to search the bodies while Silens piles the mutants and Gallach moves to the central console. The Thin Man is now a horrible mutated mess, the magic keeping his appearance normal worn off after his death. The hellpistol and needle pistol are piled into evidence, while Davrus takes a pict recording of each combatant before Silens piles the bodies for burning. From Villiam Gallach retrieves a small hand written note, stained with his blood, and a familiar looking piece of jewelry. Finally as the mutants and hereteks burn under Silens hand-flamer Gallach uses a frag grenade to destroy the broadcasting unit and the broadcast suddenly ceases. Making their way out of the Tower of Song the group comes across half a dozen more Brass Bones, mowed down as they tried to reinforce their fellows. A puffing Coldo jogs over to them, his shotgun still smoking: "Did I miss the fun?"

++Evidence piece KS-567- Note found on the Heretek Villiam:

Amina Zaman will fall to a quartet of interlopers from off-world. Ensure they recover Zaman's Alpha-Control, then proceed with the destruction of the Jade Foundry and the Selvanus Binary Delegation party. Do not lose the diamond.

Ascension awaits you in the New Age. The Mechanicus were fools to deny your genius.

The group sneaks out through the Tower of Song, making their way past the slain adepts and Sanctionaries and out into a panicking hive. The crowds are scared, milling about in unrest and already the Sanctionaries are struggling to contain small riots. The Skitarii have tightened the cordon on the Tower, and more than one civilian is hit by a las round as they try to approach the Adeptus Mechanicus forces. Back in the Hectin the group drives straight for the Jade Foundry, eager to warn them about the threats revealed in Killiam's note. Arriving there they find it unscathed, the Brass Bones conspiracy stopped before it can do any damage to the foundry. Magos Marta recognises the name Amina Zaman, a heretek he had personally exiled from the Binary Forge some years ago. He identifies her as the woman the cell knows as "the Surgeon", and says that they have earned his gratitude for killing such a notorious heretek. With Selvanus Binary's delegation safe, the group returns to the Safehouse, eagerly sending off a missive to Interrogator King. King arrives on the surface at last to oversee the tail end of the investigation, collating data and looking over the evidence collected by the Cell. As the cell is reallocated she is turned over a stasis-box filled with items captured in the process of the mission. Last in the box is a small unassuming diamond, set into a carved obsidian chain. King quickly places this item in a seperate stasis box, not noticing the look in Gallach's eyes. Only he recognised the item, having recovered its twin on the surface of Vanth some months ago. King does not comment and with haste the Cell clears out the safehouse and departs Desoleum.

In the months following the forces of Selvanus Binary would hunt down and ritually execute the remaining Brass Bones gangers for the damage done to the Tower of Song, some raids led by or augmented by Inquisitional assets. During this time the Scalpel Kings continue to grow, augmented by the Surgeon's biological interference, and consume many of the smaller gangs in their areas. In M41.816 their leader Khrüno, now a hulking 8ft tall brute, would lead an assault on the main hive. Thousands would die on each sides, many from the cities once bustling Stranger's Quarter, before the Arbites and Sanctionaries would re-contain the gangs to the lower hive. It is two years before the next Address of Servitude can take place, and the damage financially to the hive would be felt for generations to come. For its failure to see through the broadcasting of the Address House Werner were relegated to lower hive status and soon found their factories and facilities purchased by other houses moving up the ladder rather than down it. The life of Desoleum Prime goes on, recovering as well as it can, but the effects of the 'Killing Smile' affliction are felt long after Cell Raptor has moved on to other heresies.

M41.815 In Desoleum a virus known as the 'Killing Smile' spreads. Although its source is destroyed by an Inquisitorial Cell the threat of it's spread does irreversible damage to Desoleum's commercial interests. Lady Aud Killian declares a period of martial law which shall not end until every infected is put to the torch. Desoleum increases its recruitment of Involute Cadre soldiers ten-fold and enters the Underhive in force. In the first 4 months alone more than 1 billion mutants dead and alive are stacked in pyres on the outskirts of Desoleum.

Epilogue

"Leave, Sir. I'm formally requesting for Raptor Cell to undertake some leave"
The Inquisitor barely looked up from stirring his cup of recaf.
"Yes, Miss King, I heard you the first time. Do not take my lack of response for a lack of attention"
Glancing up he fixes me with a steely gaze.
"There's no need to explain you reasoning - I can see it clearly in your mind" he quips. "You feel they have been through enough trauma to warrant a leave of absence."
Leaning back in his leather recliner, Grendel sips on the steaming cup of dark liquid.
"Our enemies do not rest. They do not tire, nor do they falter. They are immeasurably patient, Miss King. We must be nothing less than as dedicated as they. I sympathise with Raptor Cell, truly I do, but all must be forced through the crucible to be forged anew. I will accept naught but excellence from any under my employ"
I speak the words before I even know I am doing so "6 months. Davrus is confined to a wheelchair and his spirit is weakened by his encounter with malefic entities. Gallach has been closer to death's door than any I have seen before. Silens, while stoic, is still recovering from the toxins in her bloodstream. Coldo - well - Coldo needs some time away from war, or I'm afraid his mind will break."
I lean forwards and place my hands on the Inquisitor's desk, surprising even myself with such a bold show of intimidation.
"The men are hurt, tired, and drained - both physically and spiritually. Effective assets are better than damaged ones."
The Inquisitor watches me with hooded eyes, a bemused expression upon his face.
"3" he says.
"Pardon?"
"3 Months. Of Active Leave, I want them sharp."
Genuinely surprised, I stand straight again, taking a moment to find my words.
"Th-Thank you, Sir. I'm glad we could come to a compromise. I'm sure the Cell will be most grateful."
"I'm sure they will be too" says the Inquisitor through a smile. "Your loyalty to them is admirable" he continues, sliding a dataslate towards me.
Reaching for the dataslate, my hand is suddenly grabbed by the Inquisitor's.
"See that your loyalty doesn't compound your judgement, Miss King. The mission must always come first"


Appendices

Persons of Note

The Cell:

  • Interrogator King: Noblewoman who rose to prominence in the assets of Inquisitor Grendel after betraying her family's potentially heretical business dealings. Transferred to Askellon alongside Grendel as one of his only Interrogators.
  • Thrane: Mechanicus-trained Reclaimator with expertise in stealth and exotic artefacts. Recruited from Rhodin IV after experience fighting rival scav-gangs.
  • Gavriel Zane: A gunslinger from the frontier world of Plutarch, has proven himself able with his investigative capabilities but is strangely quiet on his reasons for leaving.
  • Davrus Octavius: Born to a noble house of divining information brokers, Davrus and his family have been under scrutiny by the Inquisition for decades making his candidacy as an Acolyte an obvious choice.
  • Lt. Gallach: Ex-Imperial Navy pilot who returned to Askellon after the loss of his wing in the Koronus Expanse. A skilled pilot and soldier, he is passionate about the removal of chaos corruption from Imperial space.
  • Coldo: Former Naval Spetznaz from wartorn Terminus, specialises in brutal close-quarter tactics and understated humour.
  • Silens Iras: From the feudal world of Hrax, Silens was once under the tutelage of the Adeptus Soritas before falling in with the Inquisition. A null, she still wears the plate armour of her homeworld and wields her sanctified sword with prestigious skill.

Imperial Authorities:

  • Inquisitor Grendel: The Inquisitor in charge of Cell Raptor, a mysterious and powerful man who has only recently arrived in the Askellon Sector. No-one in Cell Raptor has ever seen or spoken to Grendel, doing most of his work through his Agent Interrogator King.
  • Intelligencer Adrian Wolffe: [Covert Inquisitorial Asset and Primary Contact] Wolffe has served the Imperium loyally for over two decades as both an Arbites and an Inquisitorial asset. A native of Desoleum and Desoleum Primus, Wolffe is at the disposal of Acolyte Cells operating on-world.
  • Judge Bowers: Head of the Adeptus Arbites presence within Desoleum Primus hive. Despite the limitations to his authority by the Consortium, Bowers does what he can to ensure Imperial Law is held above all others within the hive.
  • Activated Assets: In emergency situations certain assets that live on Desoleum are able to be activated by Inquisitorial agents.
    • The Oathbreaker: Once a member of the Desoleum Involute Cadre Imperial Guard regiment the man known as the 'Oathbreaker' is a trusted mercenary ally of Agent Wolffes. Guarded about his past, none can question his skill with the worn scoped lasgun he carries.
    • The Reinforcer: An ex-Arbite who was cast out for excessive brutality towards suspects, the 'Reinforcer' is known for only turning up when the pay is good and the situation dire. He wields a power maul and suppression shield taken from his Arbite days.

Hive Persona:

  • Iron-Knuckle: Head of the Ironmonger gang, he is heavily augmented and utterly deadly, having killed his way to the top.
  • Vivi: Horrendously mutated hiver living in the Dark - a bloated mess of a man with no mouth and bulbous eyes who can speak into the minds of others.
  • Johan Werner: Patriarch of House Werner, a moderately sized house which oversees interests in vox manufacturing.
  • The Surgeon: Adeptus Mechanicus tech adept involved in the 'Killing Smile' murders. Torturer and suspected Heretek.
  • Khrüno: Gang leader of the 'Scalpel Kings' and a source of fear for even hardened gang members.
  • Belethor: Manager of a general and second hand goods store in the middle hive. Gavriel's contact in Desoleum Primus.
  • Anna-Beth: Professional pleasure girl often hired by Wolffe for her skills at convincing and manipulating men.
  • Saskia Werner: Cousin of House Werner head Johan and seneschal for many of her cousins dealings.
  • Arto of House Muska: Seneschal of House Muska and dealer in secrets and lies.
  • Villiam: The head of the Brass Bones gang of tech-gangers.
  • Biologis Marta: Chief magos of the EP117 delegation party.

Organisations

  • Ironmongers: Underhive gang obsessed with bionic modification. Rituals often involve liquid metal and gang members revel in taking the Oath-Cogs of their fallen foes.
  • The Servants of the Surgeon: A collection of biologically and bionically enhanced servitors and fighters who protect and serve the mysterious figure known as the Surgeon.
  • The Scalpel Kings: A lower-hive gang and part of the "flesh-cutter" movement. They use their flensing knives to ritually scalp themselves before joining the gang and brutalise their enemies with chainblades in public displays of violence.
  • House Werner: A lower noble house currently positioning for a place in the Consortium in the New Financial Year. Their factorum in the main hive has been a primary source of the 'Killing Smile' anomaly.
  • House Muska: A food production house currently on the lower end of the consortium.
  • Brass Bones: A lower hive gang that focuses on surgery and bionic modification. Enemies of the Ironmongers.
  • Selvanus Binary Delegation Epsilon-Omega-One-One-Seven: A delegation party from a far-off forge world who are visiting the Jade Foundry for undetermined reasons.

Locations

  • Kappex Orbital: The systems main spaceport and source of much of its underhanded dealings and smuggling. It is a massive space station that sits in geostationary anchor above Desoleum Primus.
  • Desoleum Primus: The largest and most prosperous hive on the world of Desoleum is governed by Lady Aud Killian and is home to a collection of powerful trading houses known as the Consortium who oversee all levels of production and enterprise.
    • Apex
      • The Spine: A reportedly indestructible material reaching several kilometres into the void above Desoleum and penetrating deep into the planet's core.
      • Noble Houses: The most powerful families of Desoleum reside in palatial residences beyond the clouds.
      • Ministorum Shrine: Ancient and rotting cathedral that has served the elite of Desoleum Primus for centuries.
    • Upper Hive [The Pinions]
      • The Consortium: The Great Houses which operate the majority of industry within the hive.
      • House Werner: On the very edge of the upper hive House Werner is considered by many to be main hive material. Their manor includes a massive solarium with synthetic biological visuals and glassteeds.
    • Main Hive [Desoleum City]
      • The Safe House: Manned by Agent Wolffe, the safe house contains the assets and evidence pertaining to the investigation, notably the Hectin Autocarriage and murder-victims. [Level 746]
      • Industry: Almost all of Desoleum's production occurs within the Main Hive - from the Ignaius lenses to the Irokian protein rations.
      • Mass Coolers: Gigantic refrigeration units run around the clock to keep the fires of industry from boiling those who live within the hive.
      • Consortium Patronage: Gangs which have been given patronage by a house of the Consortium are able to traverse the Main Hive with relative freedom.
      • Desoleum Arts & Antiquities: A location wherein the Subdual Servitors took the bodies of the victims.
      • House Werner Factorum: Interested in the production of vox units. Point of interest in 'Killing Smile' deaths.
      • 'The Shattered Foundry': Originally Adeptus Mechanicus factorum 00A5 it was abandoned after a series of fatal accidents led to it be declared cursed.
      • The Jade Foundry: A producer of auspex lenses using the fabled living-glass of Desoleum, the foundry is owned by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
    • Under Hive
      • Lawless: The Sanctionaries and Enforcers of Desoleum rarely travel into the Under Hive, resulting in many Unbonded seeking refuge among the wasted and flooded floors. Gangs dominate all facets of trade, survival and living in the Under Hive.
    • The Dark [Gorges, Red Drippings, Cascades, Cold Reaches]
      • Hivequakes: Emanating seemingly without warning or scientific reason, hivequakes rumble up from the Dark causing chaos and destruction to any who call Desoleum home.
      • Cache: Rumours abound of hidden archeotech buried beneath centuries upon centuries of refuse and lies. Masses of unrecorded inhabitants live in absolute squalor, spared death only by their numerous mutations which protect them from the worst of the environmental effects.
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