Annals

Encrypted Noospheric Memorandum 877 –A, delivered - [812 M41] via Astropathic Choir [Romulus], Administrative Quarter, Hive Tarsus, Scintilla, Drusus Marches, Calixis Sector.

Conductors Note;this document has been altered in accordance with Security Protocols for high-priority Imperial Documents. Thank you for your cooperation. Ave Imperator.

From; the Offices of Dr Dante Cyprus, Old Quarter

To; [CLASSIFIED], [CLASSIFIED],[CLASSIFIED],

Dearest Associates,

I have been afforded the great pleasure of inviting you away from your current distractions on behalf of our Master [CLASSIFIED][CLASSIFIED]. In the fullness of time, you will each receive a formal Writ of Summons from the [CLASSIFIED][CLASSIFIED], as developments here in the Capital require your attention. Being aware however, that some of you prefer to spend your leave-time in complete obscurity, I must regretfully instruct that awaiting this more proper summons will render the distance quite obstructive to our schedule. Rest assured that in deference to your various circumstances, I have arranged for this message to be sent some weeks prior to the final resolution of the Conclave concerned with this matter. It is my recommendation that you make travel arrangements for tomorrow; by my estimation you should arrive within 24 hours of the Conclave having deciding to summon you.

To the matter at hand. I am confident that in their diligence, the Lords of our Holy Ordos will shortly decide to renew their interest in the Haarlock Affair. I have conveyed reports to our Masters which suggest that the resolution of our recent investigation of the matter were less permanent that we’d like. In view of our shared experience in this field, it is likely that our Cell will be assigned to the case when it is reopened. I therefore consider it prudent, in light of our varying degrees of acquaintance with the Affair as it stands, to refresh your recollection of the facts;

• Solomon Haarlock, deceased, Rogue Trader who first discovered the Calix Expanse 3,500 years ago. Extremely prosperous line, having nominal governorship and proprietary rights to several established colonies and planets.

• During the ‘Succession Wars ’the family inheritance fell into question. 14 brothers and sisters engaged in vicious conflict over the family fortune. 3 eldest slain.

• Erasmus Haarlock, 19th in line for the fortune, was mistakenly ambushed aboard his Cruiser the “Spear of Destiny”. Family agents slaughtered his wife (for whom he bore a famous love) and his infant daughter. Enraged, Haarlock hunted his every relative to extinction. It is likely that his vast experience with malign and alien artifacts were turned upon his family during this period.

• Upon the final extinction of his line, Erasmus Haarlock disappeared into the Koronus Expanse and is presumed dead. He has not been seen for 200 years.

THE HAARLOCK AFFAIROur involvement

Upon the extinguishment of his estate, the Courts of Solomon determined that Haarlock’s possessions would be auctioned off. It was thought that the auction of his family’s many bizarre and arcane possessions would attract the worst villains of the Sector; as you know, a Cell of experienced Acolytes were dispatched to observe the event. At the House of Dust and Ash (former Haarlock Holding) several facts came to light.

• The cult “Pilgrims of Hayte” the most abhorred Cult of Chaos in the Sector, were deeply interested in acquiring several mysterious effects of Haarlocks. Most notably, a book filled with gibberish, a clock with thirteen hours, a strange leather mask.

• A death-cult called the Mourners, convinced that Haarlock would return from death and destroy the Sector, committed a mass-suicide (taking a substantial number of local nobility with them) rather than face his return.

• One of Haarlock’s possessions, a clockwork replica of his wife*, proved to be a device of prophecy. Its proclamations sent the crowd into a frenzy, with half the guests murdering the other. It escaped- *Gilded Widow, possibly indestructible.

• An abominable Slaugth, hated xenos fiend, attended the auction, but was slain before its purpose was understood.

• An empty portrait frame conveyed to the auction at the last minute proved to be a malign artifact. When viewed by a young nobleman, the painting suddenly produced his perfect likness, as his body shriveled to a hideous husk. Observing the picture now inspires madness. I have hypothesized that this device was intended to eliminate any of Haarlock’s lineage yet remaining. The identity of the young man remains a mystery

The World of Quaddis is governed by the Haarlocks. Since the disappearance of Erasmus, the planet has had no governor. During the centenary celebration, whereby the sun (and the Astronomican) is eclipsed by the moon, several things occurred.

• Several individuals, including Inquisitorial personnel, were kidnapped by the Beast House. These individuals shared no trait other than their involvement, however distant, in Haarlock’s affairs. Most were butchered by Saw-fangs in a bloodsport pit, some escaped.

• The Pilgrims of Hayte were once again present, led by a renowned villain the Heron Mask. This figure is responsible for the torture and murder of Inquisitor Karkalla and his retinue, who were discovered on the scene. During their stay on Quaddis, they also murdered roughly 200 clergymen of the Emperor’s Church.
• Warp veil seriously thinned during a period thought relevant to the Haarlock family, the “Thirteenth Hour”. Cell of Acolytes faced substantial Daemonic manifestation in State Library, including 30 foot “Warp Dragon” or “Dybuck”.

• During the Eclipse, a celebration was held called the “Moon Dance”. During this event, the notorious phenomenon of Komus, the Tyrant Star was summoned by the Heron Mask. The Star caused a particular bird-like mutation to take hold in perhaps 30% of the population. The Heron Mask was slain by a figure of local myth, “the Widower”, thought to be a servant of Haarlock. Described as “a nightmarish shape made of dead limbs and smoke”, this creature was apparently driven mad by its own immortality and the imminent return of Haarlock. It’s heart, held in a vast clockwork device, was smashed by an Acolyte, enabling it to be destroyed.

MOST IMPORTANTLY – It is clear that Haarlock’s legacy carries the power to command the most horrific xeno breeds, dreadful sorceries, and mysterious phenomenon. The various artifices he left behind - the least of his trappings - have caused mayhem on a considerable scale, and we must be cautious in pursuing our investigation forthwith. I look forward to hearing your hypotheses friends, though I will leave the briefing itself to our capable friend[CLASSIFIED][CLASSIFIED].

Affectionately yours,

Dante Cyprus

CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE:5301-813.M41
SUBJECT: Ref: Mission Transcript #1
++My loyal Acolytes,

++I understand your displeasure at my choice to reveal your prescence to the Adeptus Arbitae, however you must understand that this investigation is official in every sense of the word. I need not explain my actions to you, you must only obey my orders and have faith in my judgement. In any case, had I thought you unable to perform this task, I would of sent another team in your place.
++Now, in regards to your mission transcript, it is good to hear that this Fihad Constantine is of sound character, if albiet, a little naive. It would serve you well to keep him informed to a certain degree of your actions. Remember, that even tho you bear the most holy of offices, Sinophia Magna is under the watchful eye of the Adeptus Arbitae. No good will come of starting a monumental dick-waving contest.

++The murder of Bal Grey is the freshest case you have to work with. I would recommend searching for known associates and hang-outs. Even tho the citizenry fear authority, a few thrones in the right hands could lead you to the answers you seek.
++The Logicians are a possible, if unlikely, suspect in this, especially in regards to the corpse you found at the most recent crime scene. Even tho the body had no trace of transhuman modifications, I would advise that you pursue this avenue further. The last thing we need is another incident involving the Empty Men.

++Your plan to stake out this Weeping Guild is a sound one, and you have my full support.

++These attacks by the gang wearing the fanged-skull patch cause me much concern however. They appear to be well-organised and equipped, they even managed to get the drop on you, Dante. Be wary wandering The Sinks after night-fall, I feel they will be watching your every move very closely for another oppertunity. And this Rag King "Tiber", we must learn what his position is in all this. He evidently believes you to be bought from off-world by the Enforcers and General Khan; it may be worth attempting a meet, to clear the muddied waters of confusion. After all, allies can be found in the darkest of alleys…

++Gideon, your safe house being compromised is a grave error on your behalf, I have come to expect better of you. Never under-estimate the enemy, that is one of the fundemental things we have taught you. With that in mind, I share this transmission, intercepted while the Tarsus' Pride was still in orbit -

*static* …
" My King,

The reconnaissance mission has returned results, yet I fear they bode ill. The following is a decryption of a file subvocalised to an autoquill device. The dictation was made by one of the offworlders, evidently some kind of forensic expert.

“Our work begins even earlier than expected T-5 … I have of course read the official dossier on the local criminal factions, but it is always best to come to one’s own conclusions on such matters … shall we begin?

Subject is Sinophian criminal substratum, casualty of GSW from high-powered rifle.

Build is broad but wiry, lacking gunman’s calluses, track-marked right arm, teeth chipped from grinding, ash+blood under fingernails – older than current (fatal) injuries. Moved in an unusual slumped crouch - pale complexion, faded gang-insignia tattoo, 6 bullets in the tube, large denomination coins in pocket.

Conclusion “Undertow” likely crime-family, has access to large destitute populations of untrained but desperate semi-civilians. Drug addiction a common means of ensuring compliance from irregulars, particularly when coupled with the offer of meat - of such local rarity that it warrant smoking and salting immediately after slaughter. Posture suggests joint-pain – Early onset Osteoporosis a common product of both malnutrition – deficiency of D vitamins and calcium, possibly accelerated by excessive ‘Spur’ usage - confirming earlier hypothesis. All the assailants were likely single and without family, else they would have been possessed of trusted companions with whom they could leave their considerable cash payments. Neither were many expected to survive the assault, afforded no spare ammunition other than what was present in the spout. Sinophian UV average very low – unlikely to have caused such substantial degradation of subdermal image in less than 20 year– the insignia was therefore impressed at a young age, tending to indicate a degree of indoctrination, sometimes presaging fanatical devotion to a leader or ideal. Summary concluded. Bundle that with standard encryption codes and forward it to my wireless, if you’d be so kind.”

This seems to confirm my worry Master – these hypotheses were produced from the most cursory observation of Agrus’ corpse. I believe the Nobility have brought in an expert team from the Capital to bring about your death – little else could explain the presence of such individuals in the Sinks at that hour. I can have a kill-cell assembled within a day – any longer would risk their discovering your current location. I do not care to expose you to the killers in that Cadre – I mark a religious berserker and deadly sniper aside the more traditional mercenary muscle. I advise; Engage at night, from afar, with your best men. Take no chances Lord, for this may be the Nobles’ gambit move."
*static*

Perhaps you should repay this intrusion of your privacy in kind?

++Continue your investigations under these advisements.
++May the Light of Holy Terra shine upon you all.
++Wrex Golspire


CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE:5301-813.M41
SUBJECT: Mission Progress Report #2

My dear Golspire,

I fear you ought to have sent an army. Though the investigative experience of this Cell has been decisive in the mission so far, at this juncture the declaration of martial law and a deployment of Imperial Guardsmen might serve your purposes better. Unfortunately, the Judiciary is dead. But allow me to elucidate - You will recall that we have been hot on the trail of a supernatural killer. Though I find it bad practice to theorise before being fully furnished with data, in deference to your requests I have been keeping notes. You will forgive their somewhat unstructured character; though something of a grammatical swamp, this account is nevertheless succinct, contrary to my usual inclination.

Overnight stay at the Folly reveals good degree of data-theft occurring between Magistratum and Adeptus Arbite. May explain the rampant knowledge of our presence. Success! A stolen case file is instructive – Juvenal Praitor is known associate of Baal Grey. I resolve to search the financials of the Legate’s (moneylender) for connections to either one, (or other victims). We visit his office to find crime-scene intact. Recovered – Legate’s cogitator, and hard copies of his financials from the Evidence deep-freeze. Currently decrypting and digitalising (respectively). Judas and Drake have some luck in ferreting out the Rag-King Tiber. We acquiesce to an invitation to a ‘Rag-Court,’ passed through intermediaries. Escorted from meet-point by 40 armed gangers – they seem to have taken notice of my comrades’ combat aptitude. Farcical ‘trial’ laid aside quickly for more serious discussions.

Tiber – Cyber-gladiator gone to pasture, something of an idiot, holds post only as result of predecessor’s (Calisto’s) death. Low rent muscle ring, drug ring– fanged skull emblem.

Scorn – Probable “First Among Equals” – a decrepit mechaphile, though evidently intelligent and deeply invested in Sinophia’s financial status quo. Cooperative – seems to harbour quite realistic fears of greater “Imperial” interest in his city. Lightning/Eye Emblem. (ref. sorcerous connection?)

Hesul; Evidently an intelligence racketeer, one-time assassin and likely Undertow enforcer. Troubling – some familiarity of daemonology! She defers to Skorn, but reveals the most secrets. Her followers are well equipped, yet not so skilful as to be capable of avoiding my or Gideon’s notice. She may have surveilled us personally. Dripping dagger emblem.

FACTS

1) The Court is aware that the items pursued by the killer/s are “truth-glasses” which reveal the future. (haarlock connection? – obsession with clockwork and the manipulation of time – the items were looted from his accursed tower). Each victim probably possessed one.

2) – There are two unreported murders - (Aha! Juvenal Praitor!) and an unknown at the “Worm’s End” – conform to our killer’s MO.

3) We are dogged by spies; some from the Mandato and also by another party -our mysterious left-handed hat-wearer! Private Interests? Or something more sinister?

4) The Undertow forswears their involvement in the murders, convinced it is the work of the Nobles/Enforcers/ Arbite/Us. More reason to capture our elusive friend – the only rogue element in this troublesome mix.

Judas promises Arbite and Enforcer intelligence in exchange for this data. The Rag Court promises to not shoot at us anymore.

Praitor – The Fish-Gutting Plant
We review more of our killer’s handiwork – 3 bodies (3 days dead), Praitor (particularly mutilated), 2 empty cages, evidence of forceful entry. The trio cohabited for several months, shared a drug habit, sorcerous inclinations, slaver’s trade. Party of 3 accompany our killer (pos. handlers? Ref. Archo-flagellants), no search conducted –Praitor carried a truth-glass on his person. Judas utilizes his Inquisitorial discretion – burns the place. No evidence for our hat-wearer or the Mandato, no dangerous material lying about to harm inquisitive civilians.

Sokken – The Worm’s End
Another visit by our killer – 5 bodies, 5 days’ decomposition. Killer/s? perfunctorily dispatch witnesses, hunt out ‘Socken’ and once again comprehensively pulverise him – another carrier of truth glass. One witness in secured – a deranged gypsy. Though insane, convinced of the following; Three assailants (!)Not handlers then, but multiple killers. Targeted Socken for his possession. Socken was apparently known for his mad dreams of “travellers returning from the dark, to turn the sun black” Significant! Refer Wrex to the Xanthite legend of the ‘Seven Devils of Calix’ – ref ‘dark traveller, kinslayer,’ as the Apocalyptic Harbinger – see ‘Bray Lexicon’. Dreams of the Hereticus Tenebrae phenomenon – of grave concern! – so often presages manifestation.

Note to self – What is the connection between the Star and Haarlock!?

At our lodgings – a surprise is waiting. Victus, an old classmate of mine – protégé of the infamous Ruarc Stone. Just as I reflect the patronage of an incomparable detective, so does he reflect Stone’s notorious skill as a criminal. His great talent is evading capture and invading privacy – he no doubt thinks himself terribly clever by wrong-footing me – in truth, I ought to have been set to hunt him, if a worthy contest of skill were his object. He reveals a shard of mirror, apparently a sample of truth glass. It has a soporific, hypnotic effect. He evades our notice as the effect takes hold –Gideon’s automated security measures intercept his parting transmission.

“Hellus. They know too much. We move now. They must be destroyed. Joanas! Ready your weapons – blood calls.
Yes. And the Temple shall answer it. –static-”

We quit our apartments presently – during the flight we spotted at least 3 assailant moving to intercept.

a) –athletic male, jet-black robes, shining silver mask + “Temple” = Templar Psykana Calix – ref (Cylon, Marr’s missing Acolyte Primus?)

b) vat-muscled male, customised carapace/boltgun, compensatory gait tending to suggest high-gravity birth/youth. Employed flanking pattern, small-unit tactics common to veteran Imperial Guard outfits – ref Maccabian Janissaries? His training was familiar…

c) long limbed, graceful female – armoured bodyglove, streamlined compact bolter variant, faint purplish tinge to skin – Voidborn/Astral Knives? Wore oxy-cleanser –unused to polluted local air. Head dipped, elbows retracted unnecessarily -wide corridor –habit common to voidvessel boarding-action veterans.

d) the leftie! Solid built, 6”3, unusual hat. Modified Carapace armor, high-collared coat, plasma pistol (!) and powersword (!) – finally, a worthy clue – powersword was of Longtooth pattern, crafted on Mordia and arriving in Calixis only by way of Forge Khayer-Addin distributors on Scintilla. Customised hilt and guard, yet no tongue-weld to suggest a new handgrip. Therefore likely heirloom item, suggesting great wealth, compounded by the matching ivory inlay on the bar of the plasma pistol – a pair of heirloom items! Martial tradition then, obvious military bearing – pos. officer? - yet strangely not with the Navy – they prefer curved, Orthlack variety blades. More data needed. Unfortunate that the only glimpse I caught was through Gideon’s blur-field.

We avoid direct combat with these better-armed aggressors and are retrieved by the Arbite in armoured column. Suspicion aroused by Skarmen’s absenteeism, Gideon sneaks into the Marshall’s offices. Significant security. Nothing of interest is discovered – I’ll leave it to him to explain. I confess an interest in visiting the office myself, - to stand where Haarlock stood! I should revel in the chance to better understand our quarry. Yet duty summons us to the Quorum. CALAMITY! Judiciary, family and Cabinet murdered by impostors! Encountered our killers – animated bodies, not unlike the Animae of Sarcosa – immense strength, immense resilience, immunity to most small arms. Entire Cell grievously wounded in battle with Undead in the corridors of the Clockwork Court. Judas and Drake are of significant utility. I commend you for assigning them here. Judiciary, family and Cabinet found shot at close range with single fatal las-round each.

Have sent warnings to the Rag Court – Law Enforcement will go berserk in the wake of this – expect crack-downs and raids of every known Undertow holding – must avert outright war! Have requested audience with Commander Khan of the Mandato. Have begun review of Legate’s records. Have reviewed all sorcerous animation methods delineated in the Madragoran Codex. Have mapped the balefire symbols I observed on our attackers. Have placed a flag and detain order on “Hellus” “Joanas” and “Victus” – wasted effort probably. Have requisitioned additional security for acting Judiciary.

++to Wrex – Several shards of a mirror – each having divinitive qualities – were stolen from Haarlock’s Folly during the Empty Man Raids. They have been sought out, to the cost in life and limb to current owners, by a sorcerer of some talent, and his Undead minions. When combined, these shards will doubtless produce “truths” – though it is my experience that such artefacts often drive the wielder mad before they can make use of their new wisdom. Victus remains at large, and has more knowledge on this matter than is acceptable. He is either a Haarlock worshipper, collecting the shards to ask after the return of his master, or a merely another dangerous heretic seeking to put Haarlock’s castaways to other dark purposes.

CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE:5301-813.M41
SUBJECT:Ref: Mission Progress Report #2

++My Loyal Acolytes

++The Judiciary's death causes me much concern. I do not place blame upon you for what happened, it is of my opinion that you performed your duties to the fullest extent. I shall sign the official report excusing you from any charges that the Quorum may seek to serve you with. The circumstances of the Judiciary's death however, plays upon my mind. To date, the nature of the killings have been brutalisation and mass trauma, not calculated executions with a ballistic weapon. This can only mean that there is a greater intelligence behind these "Risen" beasts you encountered. I doubt it is the work of some petty warp dabbler, only a skilled practitioner of the malefic arts could perform such an advanced ritual as to raise and enhance a once-dead corpse. Either that or, Emperor forbid, they were given assistance by a darker force.

++The murders continue to mount, despite your efforts. Now we know, or at the least are aware, that the Mirror Fragments play a large part in this, I hope you can take the offensive in this case. Who else would have access to such items, I wonder. The Quorum? The Rag-Kings? It would certainly explain the murder of the prominent members of both classes. Perhaps asking the Arbites or the Enforcers to send out a public service announcement, offering rewards for information pertaining to the Fragments. On the other hand, that may cause those who own them to go into hiding to avoid revealing themselves… We walk a fine edge in this.

++Dante, the visit from your old associate comes as a surprise. I took the liberty of running the data you provided through the Tricorn Heretics Database. It appears Victus Cromwell was once wanted by the Ordo Hereticus for crimes against the Imperium. The report goes on to detail his arrest some 12 years ago, by an Inquisitor Zabusa of the Ordo Calix. Unfortunately, the documents regarding his whereabouts proceeding the arrest have been either lost, damaged or heavily doctored. His dossier paints a worrisome picture Dante, he managed to evade the capture of 4 highly trained assassins of the Sons of Dispater, as well as incapacitate or kill more than a dozen Inquisitorial Storm Troopers before he was finally taken down. Strangely enough, the report goes on to detail that he was greviously wounded during the raid, the medicae's notes detail severe bodily trauma, loss of lower limbs, a partially caved skull and almost complete destruction of the right arm. To be active now I can only assume he has been through an inhuman amount of modifcation, almost rivalling my own extensive transhuman work. I shall perform further investigations here and report my findings to you.

++The presence of the "Kill-Team" is yet another speed hump in your investigations. I am currently running their details through our known Heretics Database. They appear to be well armed, organised, and single-minded in their focus to stop you. I would strongly advise avoiding conflict with them at all costs. Travel with extra protection if need be, petition the Arbites or the Enforcers (feel free to use the mission sump fund for bribery and/or purchase of muscle) for armoured transports or armed details when moving about the city proper.

++I think its high time that the good Marshall Skarmen makes some time in his oh so busy schedule to meet with you. Use the power granted by the Rosette with my blessings if you have to. I agree to your proposition of a meeting with the Enforcer General Khan, the purpose of course would be advise caution against all-out conflict with the Undertow. We could sorely use the assistance of the Enforcers at this point, their local knowledge is insurmountable. Sinophia can little afford another inter-class war.

++Continue your investigations under these advisements.
++May the Light of Holy Terra shine upon you all.
++Wrex Golspire

CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE:5301-813.M41
SUBJECT: Mission Progress Report #3

For the attention of Wrex Golspire - a further sampling of events distilled;

Gideon and Drake prepare an unpleasant surprise for our hat-wearer and his comrades – a building rented under a known alias, rigged to explode when encountering snoopers. No telltale rumblings as yet, but we have made some progress on this account. Details later -

We meet with the Enforcer General – he agrees with us in all particulars except one. He refuses to relent in his persecution of the Undertow. Stability a greater priority than law enforcement currently. yet EG seems particularly pleased with the death of the Judiciary, describing it as “an opportunity too good to miss.” I share a case file with him detailing the MO of our killers – it is doctored to omit supernatural material. Gesture wasted apparently, as he has knowledge of all particulars. I do not think he is involved, but he should certainly be removed from office and tried for treasonous sentiment as soon as circumstances permit.

Another obstacle - the Magos Biologis gravely oversteps his authority. He denies Inquisitorial Authority outright, claiming protection of the Mechanicus. In the eyes of Imperial Law - empowered by Wrex's authority -I have claim to any evidence, however peripheral to my investigation - whether i want a bloodstained sheet or the Governor General's own ivory-inlaid toothbrush, whether I return it, destroy it or wear it on an earring. Inquisitorial Authority permits. Yet he flatly refuses to stand aside as we try to collect Enforcer cadavers. Several members of the Cell swear to kill him. Judas swears to torture then kill him. Yet nevertheless we are roadblocked. As he is the only mortician in the city performing the kind of autopsies we saw on the one-time Animae, and now attempts to conceal evidence from us, I now have no doubt of his implication. Yet he is indispensable to the Arbite - i could lock him up under Inquisitorial authority without proof or even charge - but they would shortly set him free again. I will

Another death fitting the MO. Floater in the swamps.

Obs - Gaunt face, brawny build, lank hair, lacerated lip –secondary, serial tattoo, threadbare streetware, poncho. Multiple blunt traumas - face, torso, hands, knees, one shoulder. Pockets turned out.

Conc - offworlder – skin pale from several months on Sinophia, yet tan line still perceptible at wrists. Former Penal detainee – 3 years judging by collar-scars. Short sentence – 5-6 years, tattoo still fresh. Down on his luck – streetware originally of good quality, yet ill maintained. At one time treated with wax, later merely covered with a moth-eaten rain cover. Injuries suggest personal crime, as opposed to theft – blow to the head inflicted several minutes after the first injuries. Dim green discoloration of two digits on right hand –common byproduct of bitter Iocanthan lho-leaf variants – often the preference ‘Loss’ campaign veterans due to mildly hallucinogenic effect. A chain smoker, yet no lighter or smokes? Odd- no reason for our killers to take them. Layer of cement dust beneath muddy layer on boots –victim came here from the city by boat, jumped straight into the mire before being accosted.

Matchbook recovered from a local Hermit leads to "Turning Hand" - Gambling Den in commercia. We set up a meeting with a notorious card shark called Chrome - last to see the victim alive. We receive another visit from Victus Cromwell - he cannot be persuaded to reveal his employer, yet denies any affiliation with Hellus, Joanas etc. He reveals some critical knowledge however;

1) The hat wearer and his companions are an Inquisitorial Kill-Cell sent with the express purpose of killing us before our investigation bears fruit

2) They are members of a faction called the Tenebrae Collegium - to my understanding a largely scholarly organization concerned with the translation of prophecies and dreams. It seems there is more to it.

3) A woman known as the Keeper of Rolls has knowledge of the artifacts - we arrange to meet her.

Needless to say I am gravely concerned by the implications that Inquisitorial forces are supporting a malefic plot. Wrex - I urge you to give deep thought to this matter, and do what you can to disrupt the efforts of our foes - or perhaps their directors. Victus leaves unobstructed - Based on your advice, I will need to perfect my beserker thorn replica before we attempt to confront him physically.

The Keeper
a young woman with extensive servo-digital and ocular augmentation. her office has been ransacked - apparently during the incident of the Animae. She reveals that her grandfather possessed a shard, but that it had been stolen. She has no knowledge that we had not already deduced, but confirmed our fears that the shards were once a single artifact controlled by Haarlock, and were known to be in the hands of the Judiciary and the Viscount. I urged her to search the records in her office and report her findings to me.

Chrome
We meet with this charlatan, in the hope that he will speak freely while plying his craft. Alas, he is a cheater and a lock-jaw. Affronted by his un-gentlemanly behavior, I demand information, but the idiot starts a firefight. We were no less surprised than Chrome's protectors, when Judas casually offloaded 5 firebombs into the crowded establishment. In the ensuing chaos, the Hand burned to the ground and we slaughtered the cheat and his cronies - but not before he revealed that he had been the one to kill our floater. Another dead-end. Yet there is nothing more engaging than a case where everything goes against you.

Our next objective is to kill or capture Hellus, Joanas, their lady friend and the pet psyker. If they are not the culprits, they may know who is. I hesitate to employ the services of the Arbite when a villain lurks unchecked in their basement - we will try to continue in an independant capacity. Yet it is of paramount importance that the following facts are now known - the Tyrant Star has affiliations with the House of Haarlock. The Collegium confirm it with their actions. Marr must be told, and of their involvement - if anyone can help us solve this tangle, it is him.


++Message Intercepted…
Decrypting….

++Complete – Ecryption Key-Grade C22
Recording…

Inquisitor Golspire,

When I first wrote to you, I harboured only the most indistinct of suspicions; I fear that the fullness of time has proven me far more prescient than we either would have hoped. I write now to report the deaths of three of your acolytes primus. To die in the pursuit of one’s duty is the highest honour a servant of the throne can hope for. Accordingly, I can give no truer praise to your servants than to acknowledge the nobility of their sacrifice. On behalf of Arbites Precinct 4628 and it’s commander, Marshall Scarman, I offer condolences and the assurance that we share your sadness. The last remaining member of your team has refused the aid of our company physicians, preferring private treatment. We do not currently have the resources to locate him and obtain a mission update. I have forwarded a set of notes recovered from the body of the Legate Senioris in the hope that it will aid you in your ongoing investigation.

The Keeper of Scrolls had taken the day off sick rather than continuing the work she pledged to do for us. Judas is mightily unimpressed. He and Gideon pursue a line of inquiry amid the Undertow, yet return no new information. Arrested Biologis Talanis for suspected involvement, turned him over to the Adeptus Mechanicus for summary disassembly.

I meet with Enforcer General – convince him to run as interim Judiciary empowered by emergency measures and the declaration of martial law. Garnered the support of Cal Sir-Mayroth (majority powerholder in noble Quaroum) –a madman – should not be accorded any more power!!! – and Lieutenant-Commander Slake of the Sinophian PDF. Addressed a joint sitting of the House of Quorum to press the issue. Invited information on the truth-shards to be passed in. Some progress evident.

Gideon meets with Cromwell, beseeches him to allow us the use of his shard as a means to locate others. He is reluctant, and refers the matter to his mysterious master. We await his return.

A stroke of luck led us to the doorway of a dealer in outworld esoteria. He provides us with a list of noble houses known to have dealt with artefacts like the shards in the last century. Comparing it against the known favourites of the Judiciary, and the known victims leads us to the House of Amorite. We are fired upon by the Tenebrae Cell en-route – thankfully the Arbite APC withstands the barrage. We escape. To my great sorrow, Gideon is conflagrated as he surveils the Amorite Mansion, latest victim to the hateful Risen. His final valiant act led us in the path of his tracker-coin into the Sinks district – we will shortly begin our search for the critical clue that may conclude this investigation. Finally I must record my dreadful suspicion; only one other person knew that the Amorite House concealed a further shard of seeing-glass - the recalcitrant [EXPURGATED ] [EXPURGATED].

I pray that you understand, but current circumstances do not permit me much time to press the matter myself. I fear that the Haarlock Affair must be laid aside for the time being; the concerns of greater Sinophia Magna beckon upon my attention.

Your faithfully,
Fihad Constantine

CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE: 5301-813.M41
SUBJECT: Termination of Acolyte Team 198

++Acolyte Judas Refaire, Adjutant Fihad Constantine,

++It saddens me to learn of the loss of Gideon, Drake and Dante. They were stalwart servants of the Emperor through all endevours, and their names shall be recorded in the Tricorn Halls of Memory.
++But we must not dwell on what cannot be changed. As of now, Acolyte Team 198 is no more. Judas, you are to be re-assigned to a new team that should be arriving in system shortly. I expect you and Adjutant Constantine to bring them up to speed. A dossier on the new team is attached to this communicae.
++It appears the time for investigation is nearing its end. By all accounts, Sinophia Magna is on the verge of cival collapse, a crisis that must be avoided at all costs. It is up to the both of you, and the new team to accomplish this.

++May the Light of Holy Terra shine upon you all.
++Wrex Golspire


CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE: 5301822.M41
SUBJECT: CELL ISCARIOT; PERSONEL DOSSIER

AGENT: Secutor Dragos, Mechanicus Secutor
CHARACTER EVALUATION: Direct, Arrogant, Impatient, Zealous
THREAT RATING: Proficient in Xeno-Based ranged weaponry; heavy augmentations relating to excavation and combat (reinforced thorax, muscle density enhancers, cerebral conditioning, ballistic impulse unit, cartographic data banking)

AGENT: Ishmael Venris, Penal Legionnaire (released into the care of Inquisitor Wrex Golspire)
CHARACTER EVALUATION: Unnerving, Unpredictable, Bilious, Bold
THREAT RATING: Highly capable assasin, torturer and sabotuer. Performed several high-profile murders for various malefic organisations before capture and repurposement in the AV series trial. Proficient in Kabuta Kata Form, Mal'weth Combat Art, IGMAP:P(Imperial Guard Martial Arts Program: Penal). Pariah Gene - immunity to psychic effects, scanners, and divinitive powers. Subject is somehow 'forgettable" - despite his ununsual appearence - likely byproduct of 'Null' effect.

AGENT: Templar Secundus Thetius , Temple Grammaticus of the Scholastica Psykana
CHARACTER EVALUATION: ERROR -
THREAT RATING: ERROR -


++Activation Encryption++
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
++Encryption Confirmed++
Cell Designation "ISCARIOT" Activated for Service
Iscariot enroute to Sinophia, Sinophia Magna
May The Emperor Forgive Us Our Trespasses

CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE:5301-813.M41
SUBJECT: Mission Briefing, ref. Sinophia Magna, Murder of the Viscount Hiram Sur'Seculo
++Iscariot. You have been recalled from assignment -CLASSIFIED- to attend an active investigation on the blighted world of Sinophia, in the decaying city of Sinophia Magna. Recent events have resulted in the murder of several high and low profile individuals. The nature of the murders required the investigative skills of a team of Acolytes specializing in the esoteric and the unusual. Unfortunately, we under-estimated the resolve and ingenuity of the heretical mastermind behind the killings, resulting in the deaths of three members of Acolyte Cell 198. You are to rendevous with the surviving member, one Judas Refaire. He will bring you up to speed on the investigation and the situation at large.

++Do what must be done, in the Emperors name, let none pass without judgement.

++Death in service to the Emperor is its own reward. Life in failure to Him is its own condemnation.
++Wrex Golspire

CLASSIFICATION: DARK OMEGA
DATE: 5301822.M41
Only for the eyes of Inquisitor Wrex Golspire

Master,

This is Myrmidon Secutor Unit Designation; Dragos. In accordance with your instructions I have made contact with your surviving agent on Sinophia Magna. The Sigil he recovered from Dr Cyprus emits a locator signal, which our orbit breakers easily followed. Our arrival interrupted a gunfight between Agent Refaire and a small unit of well-equipped operatives taking place in a public square. We interceded on behalf of your Acolyte, killing two and driving off another pair. We have since earned that these individuals were acting on behalf of the Tenebrae Collegium - a faction that warrants further c=scrutiny in my opinion. Regretfully, I must report that our experiment in Ishmael Venris has ended prematurely. Though he succeeded in wounding one mercenary and killing another, these enemies were found to activate self-incendiary devices upon death – the Null was killed in the blast.

The Arbite arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, accompanied by a Warden of the Divisio Immoralis. This individual, Malus Kain, has proven helpful in the pursuit of our mission; having spent some weeks in the City, he has local knowledge and contacts, which were useful in confirming or substantiating a number of our suspicions. I also note that he bears the insignia of a Mortiurge of the Scintillan Church; though he declined to inform us of this notorious rank, it is an endorsement of the further skills he might offer our Cell. He has cooperated with us fully and has been subsumed into the investigation as a de facto member. Nevertheless I was eager to verify his story and requisitioned the following data from his personal cogitator – if you ultimately decide to fully integrate this useful individual, he will need to be offered more comprehensive security software.

See –att: Inquisitorial Dossier [Divisio Immoralis Mortiurge – Kain, Malus .]

The weeks of frustration seem to have paid off. The operatives I met today are empowered with the authority necessary to pursue this investigation properly. The jurisdictional obstacles I have faced are nothing to the Agents of Terra, and in two short days they have greatly accelerated the matter, and graciously shared their information. Our two mandates are the same, though theirs is far more specific; I now feel that I can best serve my mission – to identify and destroy the principal source of corruption in the Capital – by aiding the Acolytes in their hunt.

The following facts are currently unsubstantiated, but play most heavily on my mind;

  • Supernatural murderers have been constructed through the use of sorcery. These murderers have plied their craft in the pursuit of a number of sorcerous artefacts called “truth shards”.
  • The Shards are part of a larger artefacts once possessed by Erasmus Haarlock, (infamous heretic), and looted from his Folly during the Empty Man Raids. They passed into the possession of people at every strata of society. Every person known to possess one is now murdered.
  • The Mandato were employed to assassinate the Throne Agents. Only Agent Refaire survived the hit.
  • Upon the most recent discovery of a shard, the Acolytes departed to intercept it. Only the Marshal, Junior Marshal (deceased), and the Acolytes themselves knew of the target’s location. Yet they were met there by the Risen creatures.

The facts tend to cast suspicion most sharply upon the Marshal and the Enforcer General. Recently, their organizations have been seen to openly clash on the streets of the city. We discovered the site of two separate ambushes in which Enforcers were murdered by forces bearing Arbite arms and equipment, and employing Arbite Tactics. Junior Marshal Constantine was killed by a booby-trapped corpse left on the scene. We also received unconfirmed reports that Khan had been slain in the attacks. Requisitioning a number of APCs we returned to the Precinct. En route we were ambushed by the surviving Tenebrae Collegium initiates and a pair of slaved Archo-Flagellants – God Emperor knows where they found those on a world like this!

At any rate, we turned the heavy weapons upon them, and stored their unconscious bodies in a Chimera cargo compartment. They were examined for hidden weapons and cyanide. I commented upon Judas’ particular thoroughness in completing this task, to which he said he was taking no further chances. Apparently, since arrival, he has been ambushed by a) Thugs of a local crime lord b) a strange individual named Victus Cromwell (several times) c) the Mandato (losing two team members), and the Tenebrae Collegium, running away on one occasion, escaping in a Rhino at another, killing two more recently, and then on this fourth and most recent occasion. My investigations have been comparatively mundane!

At any rate, we now know our quarry. Upon return to the Folly, the Precinct was barred and shots were fired upon our friendly vehicles. The armoured plas-glass of their searchlights was too thick to shoot out, so we withdrew to gather more support.
Those Arbite not party to their Marshall’s heresy, any Enforcers we can round up, and the forces of the Underworld will aid us in what must, at the last, be an all out assault. You have your answer, Arch-Cardinal; the source of corruption is Skarman, and I will fulfil my duty.

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