Emperor Preserve

Investigation in District XIII, the Celestine Wharf
Undertow hideout in a fish factory?

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From: Intios, Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

Biologis Adept Talanis’s medical report confirmed what we discovered earlier. The unidentified body was deceased for three days and wounds were postmortem. The exam did discover small carvings on the skin that formed a small sigil. The exam could not confirm any xenos DNA within this body.

We went over our leads and decided to use public information to take a closer look at the list of victims.

  • Mam’sel Zamura Rolart. Rolart’s body was discovered torn apart in her dressing room. There is information that shows Rolart was connected with Nida Sasser and a woman named Etsuko Lobue. Lobue’s family is a minor nobel family but well positioned and the same level as Rolart. Nida Sasser may have had issues with the Seculo family due to a bad business transaction.
  • Legate Senh-Ar Dole was an offworld trader and moneylender. He disappeared and his entire family was found dismembered. His estate now seems to be in trouble.
  • Viscount Hiram Sur’Seculo murder is what triggered Arbitrator Adjutant Constantine Fihad to send the astropathic message for the Inquisition’s aid. We came upon a photo of Sur’Seculo shaking hands with Ar Dole. This photo also shows Judiciary Evandus Idrani in the background. Idrani is the head of the Quarum and planetary governor.
  • Related to these nobels, we find the name Eugenio Rolart, who seems to be the front person of the family. We also find the name, Carmelos Seculo, who is the viscount’s brother and possible next in line in the family.
  • Callisto was a Rag King that was murdered. Other known Undertow rag king/queen are Hesul and Scorn. Callisto’s body was destroyed before the murder pattern was discovered.
  • In an attempt to learn more about Haarlock’s Folly, we discovered this structure was built by Erasmus Haarlock. He disappeared after his own family was killed and exacted his revenge.

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We were told by one of the Arbitrators that the Administratum Adept in the Folly was the local historian. We were directed to sub-level two where we met Scrivener Anneliese Courtois. She was surrounded by paperwork and the distinct pattern of her candlelight was clearly of prescribed Administratum protocol. After her initial surprise to see our group in her working area but also in sub-level two at all, she greeted us openly after introductions. She was able to speak of many rumors of the Folly involving xenos artefacts. She distinctly mentioned the Statue of Thiry, which was said to bestow blessings. She also mentioned a mirror that may have been used to see the future.

We asked Constantine for an audience with the Arbites Marshal. We were able to meet the Precinct Marshal Colchis Skarmen. Skarmen’s office on the third floor was playing tricks on my auspex. Seems to be some sort of electrical jamming that I am not getting anywhere else in the Folly. Skarmen told us that he took over recently after his predecessor Precinct Marshal Denarus Broad was killed during the Empty Men incident. Skarmen did give us the name of PDF Commander Georga Gottay. He said the Arbites would be glad to setup an introduction for a possible meeting.

With our equipment checked out and Carrus Nazal released into our custody, we were ready to set off in search of Juvinal Priator. Nazal stated that he did not know Priator directly but knew that he worked out of a fish factory in Celestine Wharf within district XIII. Since we were to travel by waterway, we called on Ardite once again to pilot our skiff.

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The trip took roughly five hours when Ardite told us we were at our destination. We then set off on foot to find this factory. Nazal directed us to one of the larger intact buildings within the area. After going through the gate and into the front door, the distinct smell of rotten fish hit us immediately. Near the center of a large room, we discover three dead bodies lying near a barrel that looked like it was used for a pit fire. A few seconds later, we hear a voice saying, “You’re surrounded, what business do you have here?” We simply replied that we were looking to speak with Priator. The voice told us to drop our weapons and to step outside. My auspex confirmed that there were at least 7 life signs in the area.

We dropped our weapons and were met by 5 ganger types. Barabbas confirmed that they were probably Undertow. We were briefly searched and could see two gangers go into the warehouse with large sacks to gather up our equipment. I saw one of the gangers start to search Barabbas and then quickly stops once Barabbas whispers something to him in a low voice. It was at this moment that purple embers exploded into the air around Barabbas and everyone in the vicinity starts to catch fire.

I took some initial damage from the fire but was able to roll onto the ground and put it out. I looked up to see some of my fellow acolytes still on fire. I helped Kaunitzer put himself out and then we helped Barabbas. While all of our cell were finally extinguished and standing, some of the gangers did not fare so well. The gangers all seemed a bit stunned. Maybe even surprised that we did not run away. Hopefully the Undertow will not look at this incident with too much apprehension.

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Murder in District XIII
Scisitatio turned crime scene investigators

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From: Intios, Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

After finally finding Barabbas and leaving the Denita Corp building, we started our way toward District I. We could see a large fire of sorts coming from the near center of Sinophia Prime. It was at this point that Arion returned to the spot of the mysterious glyph in the wall. He told us to proceed but he would have to stay at least a day to perform a personal errand. He disappeared into a high rise hab across the street from the glyph. The rest of us decided that we would hole up for the night about a block away. About the same time we found a place to rest was when Barabbas went off on his own. Maybe curiosity got the best of him and he wanted to be near Arion. I wouldn’t know for sure because I didn’t bother asking when the two of them returned the next day.

With a simple inquisitive look towards Arion, his response was, “Let’s proceed and go back towards the city center.” As we got closer to District I, I tuned my microbead to the frequency given to me by the Aribites driver that dropped us off. There was chatter about another crime scene, this time in District XIII. I was able to use the microbead to call out for Arbites assistance. We radioed in that we needed an extraction point. Within an hour or so, we were picked up on the edge of District I. The driver said that he was given instructions by Arbitrator Constantine to take us directly to a new crime scene in District XIII.

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Upon arrival, we spot an armored Arbites vehicle in front of a non-descript hab block. One of the investigators on scene tells us that there is a dead body upstairs. When we entered the room, there were a couple more Arbites officers guarding a body on the floor. We noticed forced entry on the door and a pool of blood had formed a halo around the body. We could clearly see blunt trauma blows to the head and chest and one of his limbs was torn off. There were dog tags with the name of Bal Grey on it. The contents of the room looked like there may have been a hasty search. We told the officer to prepare to take the body back to Haarlock’s Folly for further examination. We were then told that there was another body spotted in the alleyway next to this hab block.

The body in the alleyway had multiple shotgun wounds in him. There was a greenish tinge to his skin and the body seemed to have started bloating. At this moment, it was Barabbas who said he spotted someone on the roof wearing a large black brimmed rain hat and seemed to be watching us. Arion and Karpath immediately took off into the building across the street. I followed their lead and told Kaunitizer and Barabbas to stay with the bodies.

We all ran up the stairs towards the top of the building where Barabbas says he saw the black brimmed hat. Karpath was first to get to the top of the building. He spotted a large cable running across the rooftops. He decided that he would forgo equipment and traversed the cable hand over hand. When I got to the roof, I see Karpath on the opposite building already and Arion preparing his grapnel and hook. I follow his lead and pull out my harness. Arion and I make it across to the first building without incident. Karpath tells us that he spotted a closing door on another building across the one we are on.

Karpath has made it to the third building while both Arion and I had some issues traversing this second cable. Upon getting to the third building, Karpath says he is running towards the ground floor. I pull out my auspex and find life readings on the fourth floor but am unsuccessful finding readings for the third floor. I see Arion waiting for me on the second floor and tell him that there are life readings in one room and a non-human form in another. Upon discovering that the non-human life form is some sort of native four legged creature, we decide to join Karpath on the first floor.

Asking brief questions of the inhabitants in the lobby and just outside the door, it does not seem the locals are very friendly towards strangers. Not being able discover where the black brimmed hat person fled to, we decided to go back to the crime scene and take the bodies back to Haarlock’s Folly for further examination. On the way back to the Folly, we were told that an Administratum building was set on fire near Prime in a possible retaliation to Bal Grey’s death.

Bal Grey was local muscle to the undertow prior to his death and also former PDF. It took a bit more time for the bodies to arrive but we were eager to get started with an autopsy. Constantine told us to meet with Biologis Adept Lecto Talanis on the 3rd floor of the cellar. The third floor cellar was a cold and dark open space that had been transformed to their morgue and medical examination facility.

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The examination of Bal Grey seemed consistent with what we saw at the crime scene. Blunt force trauma and limbs torn off just a day ago. Examining the second body was a bit more peculiar. We discovered that the body had been dead for three days and the shotgun wounds were created post-mortem. There were splinter and bloodless scars all over his arms and something that we did not notice at the crime scene. An entry wound in his chest that was stitched back up. We removed the stitches to find that the cause of death was probably a sharp blade of some sort to his chest. But why would someone stitch him back up and put shotgun blasts into his body?

We returned to Constantine to ask if he knew of any current associates of Bal Grey. He told us just by chance, the Arbites at the request of the Enforcers had recently picked up a Carrus Nazal. Constantine told us that Nazal is known to have been connected to Grey in the past. The Enforcers wanted Nazal picked up for possible Lho stick bootlegging. We expressed our desire to question Nazal and to also have the Arbites send a skilled interrogator to aid us.

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We went to the first floor of the cellar and were directed to the cell of Carrus Nazal. An Arbite by the name of Myrn Mordi introduced himself and said that he would help conduct the interrogation. Nazal was resistant at first but Mordi’s less than deft touch had him singing in no time. The use of stimm on the detainee seemed to help as well.

Under questioning, Nazal gave us the name of Juvinal Priator. In the end, he also blamed Xiabius Khan, Enforcer General for most of the troubles between the Undertow and Quarum. At this point, Karpath reminded us of the Empty Men that Inquisitor Karkalla debriefed us about. These Empty Men were transformed by the tech heretics, the Logicians, by adding xenos DNA into humans. This made me go back to Tech Adept Talanis to run a DNA test on the second subject.

We had dropped off some of our equipment to the Arbites tech priest for repair or examination. Those of us that had equipment suffer water damage may need repairs and those of us that suffered the high explosive wanted routine maintenance. Barabbas, after tinkering with his data slate for hours, told us that he just saw the dark wide-brimmed hat figure enter the main Enforcer precinct. So either the Enforcers had something to do with the crime scene or maybe we are simply being followed. I believe it is inevitable that we will have to meet with Enforcer General Khan in the near future. Now if we can only get the DNA results and our equipment back.

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Barabbas Found At Last
Find ruddy faced juvenile & mandate his membership to dream job - CHECK

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The Acolytes learned from Louvenia, who runs the boarding house they were staying in, that the structure under the bridge was the headquarters of Dravland . It was an organization that sounded essentially to be a mercenary organization that specialized in bounty hunting.

Acolyte Arion went in the front door to determine whether this group could be retained to locate the elusive Barabbas. They reasoned that this whole area was Dravland’s neighborhood, would have connections with the various regional gangs and specialized in finding people. The discussion to hire them was going well, but when Arion provided information about this Barabbas whom they sought, things took a different turn. Members of Those Left Behind were already there & were just about to identify and take custody of this same young ganger.
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The Cell escorted Barabbas’ robed TLB escorts back to the gang’s headquarters, which they were becoming quite familiar with. However, as Acolyte Intios was taking the opportunity of the lengthy walk to question the juvenile they’d sought for so long, a sudden howling gale wind erupted around the group, driving a number to the ground. The robes of a couple of the TLB members became dislodged revealing obvious mutations, including the absence of a mouth with one. Barabbas unsuccessfully tried to slip away in the confusion and, after the minor whirlwind ended as suddenly as it began, the Acolytes considered Barabbas’ responsibility for it.

The party arrived without further incident at the TLB headquarters below the Denita Corp. building, and their headaches, nosebleeds & general discomfort in Urok’s reception chamber renewed. They convinced Those Left Behind to release Barabbas into Sciscitatio’s custody, asserting that it was important to their investigation into who had desecrated Apker Cathedral. In return they agreed to share anything they found out with Urok, ogryn leader of the gang. They set out towards District I.

First though, they located the address they’d found on the corpse of Thal Varus, who seemed to have been proselytizing with those still in District II. In searching the premises, they found pious artwork, an extensive collection of mostly religious books & a lock box – the existence of which had been suggested in the Ecclesiarchal office they’d searched previously. Inside they found various ornate pieces. During this time in the late Varus’ domicile Barabbas & Karpath got into a tussle, suggesting it might take some time for Sciscitatio to adjust to its new member.

While continuing on their way to Prime, Arion had them stop at the location of a glyph on a wall he’d taken great interest in during the Cell’s initial journey into District II. In reexamining the drawing, he discovered that it was covered in some kind of clear oily substance. He told his fellow Acolytes they were free to proceed on without him, but he needed to stay there at least for the night. The blade-wielding assassin went off looking for a high-story dwelling where he could keep a vigil over the etching. Not understanding the purpose, the rest of the Cell nonetheless searched for their own deserted domicile to wait on the conclusion of this mysterious “errand”.

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From Those Left Behind to The Path of the Setting Sun...and back again
Finding a Barabbas in a haystack

Apker_s_Square.jpgThe explosion of the night before, combined with burning bodies on the morn in Apker Square, had the attention of what local denizens remained. The Acolytes of Sciscitatio approached a small group of eyes peering around corners from one of the Square’s edges. While most scattered, B’ahb remained…his hunger exceeding his fear. However, the Inquisitorial agents had not brought any provisions with them into District II and so had none to barter with. Arion lost patience with the doomed negotiation and took a harder line. B’ahb fled into a building and the Cell gave chase. Eventually running him to ground, he confessed that he knew little of the newly arrived cult members, but a local that went by “Balasus” might. He provided directions to Balasus’ hab, pleading that they not reveal his complicity.

As described, it was an unusual free-standing large hab dwelling several blocks off Apker’s Square. Behind a shotgun through a gun-hole in his front door, Balasus was open to trading information for llo-sticks, though Acolyte Karpath only had a small fraction of the agreed amount in the bundle he tossed against the door. The local had only basic information about the relative newcomers that obviously were living in Taahammie Hall. However, he did confirm that there was one who appeared to be of a particularly young age that would match the Barabbas they were looking for.

The Cell then departed for what seemed to be the headquarters of the local gang they encountered a day earlier, Those Left Behind. Less than two hours later they had hoofed it to that notable building that split the main street, and noticed that it said “Denita Corp.” on the side. Next to the slightly rusted lettering was an icon that consisted of a collage of building tools. They were once again taken underground to Urok’s receiving chamber, returning for the duel they’d agreed to, which was partial payment for permission to traverse the gang’s territory.
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Urok had already learned of their discovery in Apker’s Cathedral and was now far more interested in who had committed this act against the local population in his territory. (The Cell’s protection payment from the day before was therefore substantially refunded.) His men had found two of the cult’s members heading to Apker’s Square and had captured one of them. The other had been quite lucky and managed to slip away from the ambush. The hulking Ogryn wanted the Cell to question the one he had in captivity.

Revivalist Jakusch was tied to a chair in a cell and it was quite obvious that his brief captivity had already not been kind. The Cell was not able to intimidate him into revealing anything more than his name, getting the impression that Jakusch felt his near-term destiny was already written. They decided against applying coercive methods to forcibly extract the information they sought.

Egressing what appeared to be a confinement floor with quite a few doors, they noticed one other door being guarded, as Jakusch’s was. They questioned the guard regarding who it was, and briefly entertained pursuing it before heading back to the reception chamber.

Urok made clear he now wanted them to find out all they could about what happened in the Cathedral and report back to him. They agreed and, upon request, were told where the ambush of the cult members had taken place earlier that day.
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After a couple of hours hike they arrived in the described location, a run down neighborhood that was clearly not that attractive even before it had been abandoned. They were surveying for tracks and any other leads when, from a vantage point, Intios spotted a group moving South. Using optics it could be seen that there were three figures bound & wearing odd headgear along with nine escorts. The Cell tracked them for quite a distance, finally watching them approach what their map told them was Sabbatine Bridge. This suspension bridge spanned a river, but there was a building structure built into the underside of one end of it – and it was this that the group disappeared into. Kaunitzer spotted what appeared to be sentries above the structure on the outside girdings of the bridge. Sciscitatio traversed the bridge’s length unmolested and continued a couple of kilometers down the road to a small settlement. They secured lodging for the night at the Louvenia bordering house.

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Sinophia Magna, District II
We didn't ask if they were lying?

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From: Intios, Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

During our time at the Wet Stool, we discovered there was a person by the name of Lesha Colasamte who was being held by the local enforcers. We were told that Lesha may know the whereabouts of Barabbas. We made an arrangement with the Arbites to contact the enforcers to have Lesha released. Upon release, Lesha told our team that Barabbas could be found in district II, near Apker’s cathedral.

We had an Arbites driver take us through district I and to the outskirts of district II because we needed to make the rest of the way by foot. Upon walking into district II, we could see this area and beyond start to look more dilapidated. With Magna Prime behind us, we walked into a promenade that had a distinct but broken fountain in the middle.

We soon discover a dead body in promenade. We found an ID that belonged to Thal Varus. Printed on the ID was 246 10th Line. Also an inscription, “May the Emperor’s gaze be always on me.” The body had an Imperial guard associated tattoo on his arm. Nearby, we found and broke into an Ecclesiarchy office. Reading the paperwork in the office, we found mention of the initials: TLB. Also mention of a lock box.

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The walk to Apker’s cathedral would take approximately 5 hours. Further in district II, we found a glyph in the wall but could not discern its meaning. By this time, it was clear that we were being followed as we walked deeper into district II.

Arion took a slight detour and conversed with a man in a shed. Arion asked if he knew anything about the hooded figures we were seeing. The man in the shed stated that we are in their territory and they are everywhere. We were approached by hooded figures who asked for us to pay a toll. A total of 400 thrones to pass through their territory for the next couple of days. Our team was escorted into a basement of a large building. Inside, we met an ogryn named Urok, who is the leader of Those Left Behind. I have not encountered an ogryn and have only read about these abhumans. Karpath said they he served with a few in his former regiment but Urok was particularly large. Urok wanted us to not only pay the toll but also show our prowess in battle. We agreed to come back the next day. I was glad to be away from that basement because I felt incredibly claustrophobic and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. The oppressive feeling went away as soon as we stepped outside. This is one of those moments I wished we had our resident psyker around.

We finally made it to what appeared to be Apker’s cathedral. We had explored the Narthex of the cathedral a bit, but couldn’t get through the locked doors into the Nave. So we left and entered the large hab block that the cathedral is attached to. We entered the lobby and then searched the next two floors above, finding empty habs. Then after searching the 3rd floor, we were in its stair lobby. Arion stopped and began talking to a male standing in the stair lobby of the floor directly above. Arion had a conversation with him, asking him about Barabbas. Arion started up the stairs; the rest of the team followed and down came two grenades. Arion was able to run past the intended blast zone and up to confront the cultists. Karpath and I were not as lucky and took hits from both grenades. Lucky for us our flak armor did its job. Kaunitzer was not as lucky and he was pushed backwards from the blasts.

Arion quickly ran up the stairs and disposed on the first cultist. I followed up the stairs and was able to take down a second cultist with my longlas. Karpath standing on the base of the lobby stairs fired his lasgun towards one of the grenadiers. After engaging the third cultist in melee combat, Arion was able to dispose of him quickly. There was a fourth cultist that escaped into the hab door toward the east.

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We quickly checked the bodies of the dead cultists and found mention of a cult called the Path of the Setting Sun. We entered a hab door and found the last cultist in a 6m x 4m open room. He was hugging a humming mechanical device and totally ignoring us. Karpath hit him in the head and I grabbed the device. Not being able to figure out the device we stepped away but not before the mechanical humming stopped. At the moment the sound stopped the device exploded and blew me and Karpath back. My ears were ringing as I layed on the floor. All the while shaking my head and thinking how did I allow myself to fall for this trap? The only one not affected by the blast was Kaunitzer because he was pilfering the autogun I told him to grab from the first cultist. I realized that I could not put weight on my left leg and discovered that it must be fractured. I put together a quick splint with a broken piece of wood and told the others that I will need to be off my feet for the night.

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We needed a place to rest undisturbed and thought about an empty hab room. We decided to settle in at the cathedral where we would rest for 10 hours. Each of us taking 2.5 hour shifts for guard duty. With the use of our advanced med kit and Arion’s help, I was able to medicae the rest of our team back to good health. My wounds were a bit more egregious but I took the chance and healed myself. Someone tried to get in at night but Arion told him to go away.

By 10AM the next morning, we opened the double doors of the cathedral and discovered dead bodies all around. Some of them impaled onto the large statues within. We pulled the bodies outside and created a pyre to burn them. We know that the burning pyre will attract attention but hope that our search for Barabbas this deep into district II is not in vain.

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Sinophia - The Turning Hand
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WRITEUP IN PROGRESS

Like the fizzle of a melta gun blast deflected off the hull of a Leman Russ, a shaft of light from the doorway struggled and failed to illuminate the Breath of the Emperor as the inquisitorial cell filed in. Thick incense filled anterior chamber, leaving the air suffused with a rich, heavy smell and obscuring the drinking hall’s furnishings and inhabitants with a thick pall of smoke. While overbearing in most circumstances, in this case the smoke worked in everyone’s favor, as it masked the stench of the polluted waterway which clung to Kaunitzer’s robes and armor.


SUMMARY——

The team has learned the following facts:

  • The Breath of the Emperor is a high class establishment in the Turning Hand which panders to offworlders, but clientele is now few and far between.
  • Doketh is the name of the local coinage. Thrones are worth more than Doketh, but exchange rate is as yet unknown.
  • “13 Doketh” is a reference to a notorious tax that the nobility has implemented per crate of lho sticks. There is a statement that often follows mentioning of this by individuals who are against the tax, but no one caught the phrase
  • there is one major player in the Quorum approved lho stick trade, and their packs are marked with a stylized “M”
  • The stylized “M” is the symbol for the noble family Maywroth
  • The underworld of Sinophia is ruled by sinister parody of the nobility, and the Rag Kings and Rag Queens that make up the seedy underbelly of the world are known collectively as the Undertow
  • There are workers putting up a large Aquila icon on Haarlock’s Folly
  • There seems to be a section of Haarlock’s folly where someone or something is being kept, as there are guards looking IN (as opposed to facing out to prevent people from getting in)
  • Saint’s Mouth is the name of the Bay
  • Vicious murders which may or may not be connected have nonetheless inflamed both the nobility and the undertow, and have set them against each others. The murdered:
    – Castillo, Rag King, dismembered while in transit
    – Mam’sel Zamura Rolart, ripped apart in her dressing room
    – Legate Senh-Ar Dole, offworld trader and undertow moneylender, disappeared and entire household dismembered
    – Viscount ??, killed at manse, security system inexplicably stopped working during attack but resumed after, killed by severe beating
  • One red herring clue leads to a boy that looks like the contact they are looking for, but isn’t. Luckily he has in the past been mistaken for this youth. The actual contact’s name is Barabbas and he seems to have joined a cult near Apker’s Cathedral.
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Asset replenishment at the Turning Hand
Making the family proud

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From: Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

When the firefight at the barge was over, both Karpath and Kaunitzer were down. I rushed to where our skiff had docked. The skiff had taken multiple hits from shotgun and heavy weapon’s fire. Kaunitzer’s motionless body was barely afloat with his arm caught on the remaining floating portion of the battered skiff. My eyes then immediately caught sight of the hover cart floating on its side in the canal about 7-8 meters from the edge.

Was it Kaunitzer’s voice in my head that told me to pull him out of the water? I quickly dismissed that voice as I pulled out my grapnel and hook to try to retrieve the hover cart. I couldn’t get it to hook on. As I stared at the cart, I wondered if I should use the gantry crane to pull it out of the water or should I just drop my backpack and dive into the canal. A few moments later, I see Arion with the help of one of the local dock workers driving the small gunboat towards me. As Arion gets near, it is obvious that his micro-bead is not working so I start to frantically point at the hover cart so that he picks it up first.

With the hover cart taken care of, we put both Karpath and Kaunitzer’s bodies onto the gunboat. We make it to Haarlock’s Folly by waterway. Upon arriving at the tower that is Haarlock’s Folly, we finally meet Adjutant Fihad Constantine. We told him that our cell is in need of immediate medical attention. Constantine directed one of the Arbites officers to drive us to the Commercia district, where the best med-lab was. We also ask where we may be able to get resupplied. We are told that the Turning Hand, at the edge of the Commercia district would be best.

My wounds seem to heal much faster this time around. Now with some quiet time on my hands, I reflect upon being in Sinophia. I know that Sinophia was once a world of pivotal destiny and economic power, but now is little more than a forlorn and forgotten relic of the past. This frontier world is situated on the furthest reaches of the Ixaniad Sector. My family, prior to the Inquisition, would have nothing to do with it, for fear of tarnishing its reputation.

Now that I’m on my feet, Arion seems eager to salvage what equipment he lost in the canal battle. I am also eager to see if we can find anything that was originally on the hover cart. We needed to get underwater gear so we had an Arbites driver take us to the Turning Hand. While in transit on the Fortune’s Path, I was able to do some research on Sinophia and its capital Sinophia Magna.

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The Turning Hand is equivalent to an ancient meeting house – a very fancy one that has seen better days. It’s the oldest meeting house on Sinophia, said to have existed for more than a millennia and has succumbed by inches to the Sinophian malaise. During the centuries of prosperity, merchants, traders, information gleaners and other fortune-seekers would meet in the Turning Hand’s golden halls to exchange information, eat, drink and mingle in the incense-fogged atmosphere. People still come to trade and deal in whispers, but the bustle of the place is long gone. The alcove tables are not filled & one does not need to make reservations for private dining. The Hand has now become the ill-lit haunt of what few off-worlders come to Sinophia. Here, one is likely to find agents of foreign cartels, far travelers and silent strangers sipping spiced amasec and muttering discussions amid the empty spaces and echoing salons. The Hand’s great central chamber, is a richly decorated (but long-faded) domed room dominated by seven great pillars, each ten times the height of a man and glittering with tarnished golden fume pipes pumping incense into the air. Meanwhile, faces of cards from the Emperor’s Tarot – enameled on brass sheets – rotate on chains dangling from the painted ceiling. Designed to hold hundreds, the chamber seems now oppressively silent and ill-lit, it’s high stained-glass windows shrouded in grime and rainwater. A circular bar fills the center of the crimson carpeted floor and decrepit-looking servitors see to patrons’ needs under the watchful eye of the plump elderly owner.

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We approach one of the alcoves and discover a trader by the name of Mateo Pinto. We ask for underwater gear and he said that he should be able to get one within a day. As we exit the Turning Hand, I realize that it has not stopped raining since we landed on Sinophia. A day later, while the others are still healing, Arion and I return to pick up what Mateo Pinto refers to as a survival suit. On our way out, Mateo says to stop by anytime. With a simple wink, I tell him that we will surely see him soon.

Back at the canal where our firefight took place, Arion donned the survival suit and jumped into the murky water. He was able find his pack and some of the items on the hover cart. Unfortunately, most of the electronic equipment was not operational and any clothing was unusable. We waited for the rest of the cell to recuperate before making another stop at the Turning Hand.

I warmly greeted Pinto by saying, “Master Mateo, I know that you are the one that can help me and my associates resupply. Here is a long list of what we are looking for.” Pinto seemed eager to trade. Sciscitatio was able to get a majority of the items we were looking for. I thanked him for his help and he said, “It looks like I will need to resupply before we meet again.”

Before leaving, Karpath asked Mateo if the image or phrase “a pack of Lho sticks with 13 doketh” meant anything. Mateo said that it sounded familiar but being an off worlder, he wasn’t sure. It seems the search for our new Inquisitorial acolyte has begun in earnest.

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Sinophia Magna's Waterways Were Cleared, But Not Without Cost
NOW, where's this teenager with a bad complexion we crossed the sector to find....

The Acolytes of the Inquisitorial Cell Sciscitatio continued to battle the raiders who had attacked the armored barge on the waterways of Sinophia Magna on the frontier planet of Sinophia. Two of their number had fallen, Tilusch Kaunitzer & Karpath Rommulus.

Intios maintained the sniper position he’d found high up on a gantry, but quickly ran out of viable targets from his perch. Arion, having dispatched the two raiders he’d found on the back of the barge, made brief contact with the crew he found there. The assassin then proceeded to cut & hew his way through all the tattooed disheveled foe he found and worked his way forward, creating a crimson path.
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A couple of dockworkers, knowing the sounds meant that a merchant barge was under attack, grabbed what weapons they had & sprinted towards the las bolts & shotgun blasts. Ardite & Skarky made their way aboard the stricken barge, but found their foes already in retreat.

The raiders apparently didn’t like the way the battle had turned & were now turning tail, belly-crawling towards the boats tied to the front of the barge while hurling firebombs to cover their retreat. Intios, having adjusted his position to the ground, picked off a couple before they reached the skiff with the mounted heavy weapon. He managed to also fatally hit one of the other skiff’s drivers. One craft of raiders did successfully speed away, as did a couple more attackers who slithered into the murky waters of the canal.
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Shortly thereafter, a substantial force of Sanctum Enforcers arrived aboard skiffs and began questioning the crew, as well as tending to the wounded. The Acolytes identified themselves as Inquisition, and gave a statement as to what had occurred. A medic examined the fallen Inquisitorial soldier to the sound of the Enforcers promptly executing wounded raiders. The Acolytes’ wounds being beyond the abilities of field treatment, the Cell hurried off on one of the raider’s skiffs, using the dockworker Ardite as a guide.

They reached the beach near Haarlock’s Folly and were met by a couple of Adeptus Arbites, who’d been alerted by the Sanctum Enforcers. The Arbites drove Sciscitatio to the imposing tower, which had been recently repurposed to an Arbites Precinct. There they finally made first contact with Adjutant Fihad Constantine, who had sent the communique’ asking for Inquisitorial involvement in the first place. An Arbites officer was ordered to drive the Cell to the Commercia District, which they were told had the best medical facilities in Sinophia Magna. The city’s Surginarium had closed some years ago, and the PDF’s medical facilities had been destroyed in the action that hopefully cleansed the planet of Logician’s earlier that year. So a medical supply house in the Commercia had been repurposed to a med-lab and a Mechanicus Biologis with other duties had been pressed into service.
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Acolyte Kaunitzer struggled to overcome his grave injuries, but within 5-6 days the entire Cell had miraculously bounced back from injuries that included two near death. Two of the Emperor’s servants first strove to recover equipment lost in the dirty canal water. After renting a suit for water salvage from a willing merchant, they managed to find most of what was lost…though not all in working order.

With that, they headed back to The Turning Hand, on the border of the Commerica District, to see what goods they could acquire. Acolyte Intios rolled up his sleeves & worked Mateo Pinto pretty good, one of the merchants he was able to find in the mostly empty cavernous halls there, who had provided the survival suit earlier.

In their limited travels around Sinophia Magna so far, the Cell got their first taste of observing distrustfulness of the population. Obviously, the Cell is a group of grim looking, armored & heavily armed strangers. However, even beyond the Acolytes sticking out, citizens distrust & fear of strangers could not be missed. The other feature of Sinophia Magna that was not possible to overlook was the nearly ever present precipitation. It had let-up briefly after their battle for the barge, but had not truly stopped raining since their arrival.

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Wet with Water & Blood
That didn't take long - we hadn't even reached town

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Karpath Rommulus, Ordo Xenos; Sinophia System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate

After running into the building and escaping the fire from the snipers and the heavy machine gun we decided that it would be best if we ran to the roof to return fire. We met Arion on the stairway up to the roof where he killed one of the snipers and handed off the rifle I asked for to me. He continued down the stairs and outside the building to take out some of the other snipers. Intios and I continued upward to the roof of the four story building and moved to the edge.
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Intios and I set up on the roof and started firing upon the other snipers. I took out a sniper from a building across the canal after trading some hits with him and I also took out one of the snipers on the building adjacent to the building we were on. The other sniper on that building was quickly taken out by Arion.
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During this time Kaunitzer was still on the boat trying to lay suppressive fire on. Unfortunately with us running into the building the enemies lost targets to shoot at and all fired at Kaunitzer. He was doing ok until the heavy machinegun began firing into him. The machine gun took him and the boat out.

From the roof we spotted some men trying to sneak up on us from the crane but Intios and I quickly dispatched the two before they were able to get an advantageous position on us.

After taking out the second sniper on the roof Arion went off to take out some more men and from there I lost visual on him.

Running out of targets to fire at I decided to run down the roof and run to the building where the two snipers were at. After shattering a window and jumping through, a dock worker armed with a laspistol aimed at me and told me to stop and identify myself. I blew him off and told him I don’t have time for this and continued to make a move towards the building. Unfortunately for me I thought the heavy machine gun was focused elsewhere and would not be able to fire upon me. Through fire from the heavy machine gun and the sniper fire from before I fell clutching onto life. It appears that the emperor isn’t done with me just yet.Ongoing_Waterway_Battle_1.jpg

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Solomon to Sinophia via the Warp
Who said traveling through the Warp was easy?

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate

My wounds from Three Stakes’ Rest did not heal as fast as the others. I was able to see the Inquisitorial Memorandum that was put together after receiving the clues that our cell found. At the bottom was a note from Inquisitor Karkalla stating that we will be meeting once we are all healed up.

Within seven days our cell was summoned to the offices of Hyplion Trading at the base of Endecott Spire in the upper hive. Inquisitor Karkalla was seated and to our surprise, so were Salucci and Kaunitzer. I give my debriefing to Karkalla and he tells us that he is in system for a couple of reasons. He is here to personally meet with Inquisitor Silas Marr to try to get his support for the Sciscitatio task force. Karkalla also states that he received an Astropathic message from our Inquisitor Globus Vaarak. Varaak’s message spoke of the planet of Sinophia and specifically a young bandana wearing male with grimy skin and a pack of Lho sticks with 13 doketh. Karkalla states that this vision of Vaarak’s is fairly strong and both Inquisitors believe that may be the next recruit into the Inquisition.

Karkalla then says, “Since Sciscitatio cannot be in multiple places at once, I am temporarily dividing this cell. Salucci and Kaunitzer having survived Three Stake’s Rest and being exposed to the Warp have now been seconded into the Inquisition, under my command. Odessa will be the prime of one group and have Salucci’s help in further investigating the cold trade here on Solomon. The rest of you will take Kaunitzer and head to Sinophia to look into Vaarak’s vision as well as this most recent communique I received from the Adeptus Arbites on the planet.” He hands us the data slate with a message from Arbitrator Constantine.

As we all sit in shock of the recent split of the team, we have no choice but to proceed. I hear Karpath shrug and say under his breath, “We got the whinny one?!” Arion is making some sort of claim about getting badges signaling that we are with the Inquisition. By this point, it is clear that Karkalla is not paying attention to any of our objections so I just say thank you and we will make do with the resources he has provided. Karkalla tells us that the void ship Fortune’s Path will be leaving in a matter of days to take us to Sinophia.

With a long trip ahead of us, we decide to meet the trader Aexel Essing one more time to stock up on any equipment we may have lost. Upon re-stocking our equipment, we were ready to board the Fortune’s Path. The ship was captained by Joyhall Bizzerat. We were asked to join the captain at his table for dinner the first night on board. He told us his Astropath, Ga Samarase, has estimated a 138 day trip in the Void. We still needed about a week to get to the proper jump point. The captain did mention that it was unusual for ships to travel to Sinophia. Not only is Sinophia suffering a slow decay, the Periphery subsector has seen a buildup of Imperial forces in the nearby system of Kulth. While information is scarce, there are possible rumors of Orks, Sessionists or something even more sinister.

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On the eighth day, the Fortune’s Path was ready for translation into the Warp. All of the crew members were on deck in anticipation of their translation ritual. With a loud hum that filled the corridors and a barely noticeable lurch, the crew members all standup and run back to their original stations. I realized this was the moment of translation into the Warp because I saw a vision of my old Administratum superior, Frangeeso. A strange and disturbing sight. I found out later that both Karpath and Kaunitzer had visions of their own. Visions that were very specific to each of them.

While attending dinner at the captain’s table, I thanked him again for taking us on our journey. I was able to pick up on conversations with the other passengers about the nature of the ship’s journey. Crew and passengers openly wondered why we were traveling to Sinophia. It offers no Warp Routes & takes us into the Imperium-forsaken Periphery. We’re chancing luck & just might end up between the forces of Lord General Ghanzorik and Warlord Ghenghiz Grimtoof. With Kulth being buried in war for decades, why would the Fortune’s Path be traveling so close to these hotspots?

While most of my downtime is spent on my study materials, the others have taken on different activities of their own. Arion has spent most of his time mapping out the ship, while Karpath has taken it upon himself to whip our new acolyte, Kaunitzer, into shape. Everyday sessions of PT for Kaunitzer has led him to avoid Karpath at all other times of the day. I tried my own hand at Karpath’s PT but an hour later, my still recovering wounds made me stop.

As I was taking part in PT with Karpath andKaunitzer, I started to notice what looked like a growth on Kaunitzer’s side. Not knowing what it was, I told Karpath to keep a look out while training. Karpath said that he didn’t notice anything odd. By the third day, the growth looked pronounced to me so I confronted Kaunitzer forced him to agree to a physical. It should be noted that the force came from Karpath, who was happy to oblige my request. When Medical Officer Leena Bodelson did not find anything wrong with Kaunitzer, I immediately told her to examine me as well. She found no ailments on either of us.

Nearly at wits end and ready to shoot Kaunitzer on site, I calledArion to explain the situation. Arion came into the med bay and simply said, “Disrobe now, and that’s not a request.” Kaunitzer wide eyed did not have any recourse and simply complied. Arion took the flat part of his knife and pressed against the protrusion I saw on Kaunitzer. When his knife disappeared when pressed against the outgrowth, Arion said that there was nothing there. Various thoughts ran through my mind. I stepped back and told the medical officer that the Warp travel must be affecting my mind. She said she understood and prescribed some sedatives. I give both Arion and Karpath a disheartened nod and said, “I will be in my room.” I then pointed in the direction of Kaunitzer and said, “I will be staying away from him.”

The next day or so were uneventful. Arion never seemed to be in his room and was always around and about the ship. Karpath keep insisting that Kaunitzer continue with his PT regimen. Then one morning I was abruptly awoken by an alarm in the corridor. Half awake, I reached for my micro-bead and asked Arion and Karpath, “Is it just me or do you guys hear an alarm?” Karpath quickly responded, “I hear it too.” I told him I would meet him outside once my gear was on. Karpath was waiting outside and Arion soon quickly joined us. Kaunitzer was nowhere in sight. I asked a crewman what the alarm was for and he stated that there was a fire in the kitchen.

When we arrived at the kitchen, we saw the remnants of some burned out equipment. Kaunitzer said he was prepping some food with Dessert Chef Sergio Lamartina. After leaving, the kitchen caught on fire and Lamartina perished in the flames. Kaunitzer was the first one on the scene. The crew told us the fire may have been worse if he didn’t arrive on the scene so quickly. I shook my head and said to the others, “A real fraking hero we have here.”

By day 24 of the ships calendar, the journey was going smoothly until all of a sudden, the entire ship turned sideways. Everyone on board was thrown around but there did not seem to be any major injuries. Captain Bizzerat told us that the ship had hit a Warp rift. There didn’t seem to be much concern on the captain’s face when he informed us of this occurrence. By day 29, the ship reset itself and everything was back to normal operations.

On day 32 at the captain’s dinner, Bizzerat informed us that we were coming out of the warp but close to the Zater III system. It will take about 2 ½ weeks intra system to get to Sinophia. On day 33, we were out of the Warp.

As the Fortune’s Path approached Sinophia, our cell packed up our equipment and thanked the captain for getting us here before schedule. We boarded a shuttle that took us towards Orbital Zega platform. We could see one other orbital platform teaming with Imperial Navy activity. Zega on the other hand was quite sparse and seemed like a half functional way station. As we headed towards the terminal that would take us planet side, it was odd to see that the disassembled shuttles don’t seem to have enough parts to make up a whole shuttle.

There was only one pilot, Epifano, who was flying down to Flavius Starport, near Sinophia Magnus. The shuttle flight down was anything but smooth but we did make it in one piece. At the landing pad, a scribe by the name of Charon greets us in the pouring rain and said that he did not expect any visitors today. We told him we could clarify things inside. My Fenksworld cover did not seem to hold up so I showed the Administratum clerk our Inquisitorial Sciscitatio letter. We told the clerk not to mention this to anyone and then asked for directions to Haarlock’s Folly in Sinophia Magnus. We were told that since the major bridge into town was down and impassable, the easiest way would be by waterway. The clerk gave us a map and directed us to a small pier, where we were able to make use of one of the skiffs.
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The water ride was to take no more than 30 minutes. Approximately 10 minutes into the trip, we began to pass a working manufactorum. This active factory was producing enough sound and billowing smoke to drown out activity for blocks. As we passed the factory, we began to near sounds of gun shots from both solid projectile and las fire. As we got further along the waterway, we could clearly see a large barge being blocked by a downed crane in the water. There were at least three small boats surrounding the front of the barge.

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We hear the sounds of a heavy solid projectile weapon. I see on one of the small boats, a mounted weapon. I ask Karpath, “Is that what I think it is?” His simple nod and response was, “Yes, possibly a modified heavy stubber.” We can see on the large barge, various people running about wearing blue vests. The others on the small boats are not uniformed and in various disheveled dress. Kaunitzer is asking if we can go around in a different direction. The shortest way to Sinophia Magna was being blocked by the barge. As we get closer, I see the heavy mounted weapon start to point in our direction. Kaunitzer yells out, “We can’t go that way, that weapon has range on us.” At this moment, my longlas was already in hand and I say, “They don’t have range on me.” As soon as I saw the heavy weapon stop rotating and pointed directly at us, I called out, “I’m taking the shot!”

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With the pull of the trigger, the gunman’s right arm disappears. Karpath starts to speed up the skiff towards to barge. We start to take fire from the small boats. Karpath then makes evasive maneuvers and almost loses control but was able to rein things back in. A second gunman takes up the position of the heavy gun pointed at us. Another pull of the trigger and his left arm disappears. By this time, our skiff begins to travel underneath a gantry crane approximately 40 meters high. I see Arion look up and knew exactly what was coming next. He shoots his grapnel and line at the gantry. Once it connects, he swings up and out towards the bank of the canal all the while barking something to the effect, “I’m getting off of this death trap.” Arion swings to the left bank and starts sprinting towards the nearest building.

Karpath realizes that the skiff is not made to take more hits. He quickly steers left toward the bank. As soon as the skiff touches solid land, Karpath and I are on our feet and running off. Unfortunately, Kaunitzer takes a hit that momentarily disables his arm. Knowing that he cannot easily disembark, Kaunitzer stays on the skiff and continues to shoot suppressive fire towards the barge and heavy weapon boat.

Karpath and I start running towards the same building Arion entered. With gunfire all around us and from the rooftops, we are both hit but Karpath is able to remain on his feet. I am hit in the leg with what I believe to be a hunting rifle bullet. Unable to stay upright, I fall forward and become momentarily dazed. The next moment I’m on Karpath’s shoulder as he’s running towards the building. I tap him and quickly say that I’m ok. He drops me on my feet in front of the building and then he dives into the doorway.

Now it’s time to get to the roof in order to get a higher vantage point and return fire.

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